I’ve been meaning to write about the “Cycling Action Plan for Scotland” (CAPS) for a while, since the new version came out. Magnatom has already suggested putting an “r” in the acronym… I’m going to change it a bit and call it the Cycling Inaction Plan for Scotland. Because that’s what it is. It has lots of nice words about how more people should cycle because that would be A Good Thing, but not a lot about how we are going to enable more people to cycle, and what there is is mostly wordy stuff about training and enabling and encouraging and not a lot about how all the training and enabling and encouraging in the world won’t help you when you get mown down by some bloke in a lorry who wasn’t paying attention.
Why do politicians do stuff like this? I assume that it is all about being seen to do “something” rather than actually making decisions that others might not like. Maybe even doing things that will be unpopular in the short term but benefit us all in the long term? Anyway, what we seem to be getting is the Nice Way Code which suggests that roads would be fine if we were all just a bit nicer to one another. You know, there have been times when other road users have been unhappy with the way I’ve used the road. And quite rightly too, because I got something wrong. Not because I wasn’t trying to be nice, but because I misjudged something or was perhaps going a bit faster than I should have been or perhaps not slowed down as much as I should have done. And no amount of advertising is going to change the fact that sometimes we make mistakes.
And then, this evening, I got overtaken very, very close, twice within a minute. All those two people needed to do was just be a little more patient, a little more thoughtful. I don’t think they intended to scare me (maybe white van man did…). It is hard to explain to people who don’t cycle just how scary a close pass is – and of course it is also the sort of thing that puts people off cycling. Are we getting adverts to tell us that? I’d like to think so, but I doubt it…
Yesterday I read an email exchange about putting contraflow bike lanes in on one-way streets in Edinburgh – something that you would have thought would be a fairly straightforward way of showing that Edinburgh encourages cycling and wants to make it easier – and it would appear that due to “resource pressures” the planned date of doing this has gone from 2014 to 2015 – 2017. Great. They can afford to put together some rubbish adverts, but they can’t afford to put in a few cycle contraflows. (Someone might point out that these are two different “pots” of money. Well, yes, but if the Scottish Government really wanted to encourage cycling they could assign money to the local authority saying that it must be used for cycling projects such as these. And it shows that disinterest in even not very complicated cycling projects extends from national to local level.)
It is all about priorities, and I don’t think local or national government has its priorities right