Pedal on Parliament 2017

On the 22nd April mums, dads, sons, daughters, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, and friends will be cycling in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Inverness (Glasgow on the 23rd April) to urge our politicians to improve cycling infrastructure all over Scotland. That’s this coming Saturday! Tomorrow! We need as many people as possible to have the greatest impact so please join us.

The benefits of ditching the car in favour of the bike are so far-reaching we cannot let our politicians ignore them. A study published in the British Medical Journal yesterday found,

Cycle commuters had a 52% lower risk of dying from heart disease and a 40% lower risk of dying from cancer. They also had 46% lower risk of developing heart disease and a 45% lower risk of developing cancer at all.

Source: https://theconversation.com/cycling-to-work-major-new-study-suggests-health-benefits-are-staggering-76292

Cycling also makes you feel good, it reduces pollution and traffic congestion, it reduces our greenhouse gas emissions, it helps people to lose weight, and it’s fun. However very few people cycle to work, school, or the shops in Scotland because there’s nowhere to cycle unless they are prepared to brave the roads alongside cars, trucks and buses. We have to start allocating road space for cyclists and make our cities more pedestrian- and cycle-friendly. The only way this will happen is with pressure on politicians from us, the general public.

Spending money on cycling infrastructure returns more in benefits to the community than it costs to build. A study commissioned by the city of Sydney found that for each $1 that was spent on cycling infrastructure, $3.88 was returned to the community through improvements to health, pollution, and congestion.

A University of Auckland study found the benefits of spending on cycling infrastructure were 10-25 times greater than the costs.

A recent Finnish study also found benefits outweighed costs even in the worst case scenario.

If you want to participate you can find out when everyone is meeting and where at the following links:

Pedal on Parliament 
POP Edinburgh 
POP Glasgow 
POP Aberdeen
POP Inverness 

Should cyclists be allowed to run red lights?

People like to complain about cyclists: “They don’t obey the law,” “They run red lights,” etc. I’ve seen cyclists go through red lights before but I don’t object when they do it. Why not? I’ll try to explain using a situation I found myself in today. I was on my bike with kids inside at an intersection similar to the one below but minus the cycle paths:

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I wanted to turn right but there was a long flow of traffic coming from the opposite direction and I had to give way (we drive on the left side of the road here). However I couldn’t wait in the middle of the intersection because it wasn’t exactly square like this one; the traffic going straight through was slightly to my left and it would have been too dangerous for a bike to sit out in the very middle of a busy intersection. So I was stopped behind the line but on the right side of my lane waiting to turn right.

At one point the pedestrian crossing went green and all traffic was stopped so pedestrians could go diagonally across the intersection. This would have been the best time for me to cross, however I know how riled up people get when cyclists go through red lights and so I didn’t do it. Instead I had to wait until my own light went from green to orange and try to get across as quickly as possible before it changed to red. This is because the stream of traffic coming from straight ahead was non-stop until the lights changed. But I’m so slow – I’m on a cargo bike with an 80kg load not including my own weight – that I can’t dash across the intersection very quickly and so my light went from orange to red before I made it through and then the next cycle of traffic coming from my left and right started again which put me in a terrible situation. Does this make sense?

With the exception of those in the Netherlands and Denmark, most roads around the world are designed for motor vehicles. I don’t think it could possibly be any harder for cyclists than it is currently. Cyclists take up less room on the road, we don’t emit any greenhouse gas emissions, we cost the national health service less, we don’t produce pollution, and yet our town planners have for decades and decades gone out of their way to make life as hard as possible for us. As thanks for this we get abuse from people for trying to avoid getting hit by a bus by running a red light. Next time you see a cyclist run a red light, instead of abusing them, thank them for doing their bit to keep the air you breathe cleaner.

Does this sound like a bit of a rant? It’s because it is. We cycled from the city to the beach today. This should be a lovely cycle route because the beach is touristy and it makes sense to connect one touristy part to another. They’re also very close and walkable. However it was really stressful. I was surrounded by buses at one point and although the bus drivers were all really considerate, what if they hadn’t seen me? I’m not worried about a bus ramming me from behind like the truck in Terminator 2, I’m worried about the bus driver who doesn’t see me. And there were roundabouts which are terrible places for cyclists and intersections like the one above with not a single bike lane in sight. Sometimes I think the city councillors want us all to go out and buy several cars each because that’s who they’re catering for.

On a different topic I’m loving my Nuu Muu dress and wear it practically every day now. It’s probably getting a bit stinky but the fabric is almost like a pair of bathers and doesn’t show any sweat and dries really quickly. Elizabeth has one, too. Here we are, with me feeling and looking a bit knackered after our bike ride:

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True safety lies with design

I enjoyed the photos in this post of cyclists in the Netherlands. Note the absence of helmets, lights, and hi-viz clothing. They’re just normal people cycling in normal clothes to get to work, school, and shops. This is how cycling should be.

As Easy As Riding A Bike

I shared some pictures the other day, in an attempt to convey a fairly simple message – that the safety record of the Netherlands for cycling is almost entirely attributable to the physical environment people cycle in, and that it isn’t down to exemplary behaviour (either of people cycling, or of people driving), or down to clothing, or safety equipment, or special lighting, or any other kind of gimmick.

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Admittedly it isn’t particularly obvious from the photographs, but these pictures were taken at two large, busy junctions in Utrecht – the first is at the Westplein, a major junction just to the west of the train station, the second is the junction of Vleutensweg and Thomas a Kempisweg. The people in the pictures are able to negotiate these junctions in total safety, despite doing what they are doing, and wearing what they are wearing, and riding battered bikes, because they are completely…

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