I organised my first ever protest yesterday and it went really well. The protest was to call on the Aberdeen City Council for a protected, segregated bike path on Union St. I don’t want to say it was a success just yet because there is still no commitment from the City Council for a protected bike path on Union St or indeed anywhere else for that matter and no politicians showed up to give their support. But I have performed my civic duty and I have sufficient signatures now to submit the petition.
Daniel and Elizabeth stole the show at the protest. They were both active little demonstrators – holding signs, chanting, asking passers-by to sign our petition. Elizabeth even did some highland dancing. It was also heartwarming to get support from so many community organisations in Aberdeen and the UK. The protest was supported by Aberdeen Climate Action, Aberdeen Cycle Forum, Grampian Cycle Touring Club, Cycling UK, Friends of the Earth, We Walk-We Cycle-We Vote, as well as Foodstory and Bonobo cafes. I don’t know how many people turned up overall, probably about 30, but we got more than 250 signatures so a lot of people came just to sign our petition. That’s more than 4 signatures per minute. I only need 100 so I have more than enough now and can submit it to the city council. However I’m still collecting signatures and if anyone would like to sign but couldn’t make it on Saturday then there are copies at Foodstory and Bonobo Cafes. The more signatures we get the greater the weight our petition will have.
The protest was about more than just a protected bike path for Union St. The campaign is really about children and giving them safe places to ride their bikes. As anyone on the roads at 8:30am and 3pm can attest, they are chock full of parents driving their kids to and from school. I don’t blame the parents. The roads are not safe for children. I wouldn’t let my children cycle to school here and the majority of parents feel the same way. It’s outrageous to expect children to cycle next to trucks and buses.
The Dutch got their cycle paths by focusing on safety for children and I think that’s what we have to do here. Cars made the roads treacherous there in the same way they are here but in the 1970s, after 450 children were killed on the roads, the Dutch began a “Stop de kindermoord” (Stop the child murder) campaign which is how they got their cycle paths. This is exactly what we need to do. No one can argue against children’s safety. I’ll keep fighting the good fight for as long as it takes.