Members of the Scottish Parliament yesterday approved a variety of measures designed to improve the safety of cyclists in the country, including free cycle training for every child and more 20mph zones. The news comes a month ahead of the Pedal on Parliament ride to be held in Edinburgh on Saturday 28 April.
According to The Scotsman, the proposals, which were made by the Green Party and adopted by MSPs without a vote, come at a time when cycling across the country, and in the capital in particular, is booming.
Four deaths of cyclists in Edinburgh in the past 12 months, two of them since the start of 2012, have highlighted that more needs to be done to ensure the safety of bike riders.
The newspaper adds, however, that figures from the City of Edinburgh Council that reveal that the number of cyclists killed or seriously injured in the capital have shown little change between 2001 and 2011 – 31 and 30, respectively – while the level of cycling in the city has roughly doubled.
Edinburgh City Council transport convener Gordon Mackenzie said that the figures were evidence that “the underlying message is that cycling in Edinburgh is growing rapidly and becoming safer.”
Bikeability training is currently provided to around one in three of Scotland’s schoolchildren, but the aim is for all of them to benefit from it within the next three years, as well as making cycle training more readily available to adults.
Meanwhile, following the launch of the country’s first pilot of a 20mph last week in Central South Edinburgh, more are likely to follow after yesterday’s debate, which had been proposed by Lothian MSP Alison Johnstone of the Green Party.
“Today’s debate has pushed the need for greater cycling investment and training to the top of the agenda, where it now needs to stay,” she maintained, adding that 20mph could help cut injuries by 60 per cent and child casualties by 40 per cent.
“We need to move to a situation where 20mph is the norm in residential areas,” she continued. “We must do all we can to build more mutual respect and tolerance on our roads.
“Education and awareness-raising is essential. I urge the government to develop more resources for cycle awareness training for all professional drivers, for fleet drivers.”
Referring to plans to make Bikeability available to all Scottish schoolchildren within three years, Cycling Scotland’s chief executive, Ian Aitken, said: “We support the calls made by MSPs today to provide better infrastructure for cyclists, more speed restrictions and 20mph zones and increased delivery of Bikeability Scotland cycle training for young people, delivered on-road.”
Transport Minister Keith Brown added: “We welcomed this morning’s debate and look forward to working on ways to ensure cycling is a safe and enjoyable option for all.”
Meanwhile, Edinburgh City Council has confirmed that work has begun on its ‘Quality Bike Corridor’ scheme, running south east from The Mound in the city centre to the University of Edinburgh’s King’s Buildings campus in Liberton.
The route, which connects with Sustrans National Cycle Route 1, will incorporate new or expanded cycle lanes, while changes to parking and loading restrictions will also be implemented to address the issue of parked vehicles blocking cyclists’ way.
Marshall Poulton, the council’s Head of Transport, commeted: "As a signatory to the Charter of Brussels, the City of Edinburgh Council is committed to helping encourage residents to find healthy and environmentally friendly ways of getting around the city, as demonstrated by the Council's consistent record of investment in promoting cycling.
“It's an exciting time as work begins on this important new Bike Corridor in south Edinburgh, especially as figures show this area of the city is home to a very sizeable proportion of people who choose to commute by bike."
Phase 1 of the scheme should be completed within 12 weeks, with a second phase due to be worked upon over the summer.
The council, which has committed to spend 5 per cent of its 2012/13 transport budget on cycling, a 70 per cent increase on last year, said that 75 per cent of respondents to a public consultation either supported or strongly supported the scheme.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.