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Convenience not weather keeping Scots in their cars says cycling commissioner

‘It's the people from more affluent areas that are more dependent on the car’...

Scotland’s Active Nation Commissioner says it’s a myth that the nation’s weather deters people from cycling. Former pro mountain biker Lee Craigie says that most people in Scotland continue to get in their cars purely because it remains the most convenient option.

In an interview with, Craigie said her first year in the role had taught her that many things people assume are barriers to cycling actually aren't.

Describing Scots as a "hardy bunch," she said convenience was a far more significant influence on behaviour than the weather.

She bemoaned cycling conditions on many A-roads and said parents were obliged to go “squirrelling about” to find safe cycling routes for children.

"I would not let a child that I loved ride on many of our Scottish roads, and yet I'm desperate for the children that I love to be out there, experiencing emancipation by bike.

"That autonomy, adventure and creativity that can come from getting around on your own on a bike is a gift, we need to be offering that to our kids. But is it safe? No, not really."

Speaking about what it was like to ride on the roads, she said: "I ride my bike every day and I get close passed every day, by not bad people but by people who just don't understand.

"I get shouted at on a daily basis by car drivers, because there's mutual fear. I'll shout back, because of the mutual fear. And I hate that, I hate the person I become because I'm so afraid."

Craigie has been in talks with Transport Scotland about piloting new road signs reminding drivers of the safe passing distance.

She said there was a need for not just more segregated cycle lanes but also, “a big cultural change that needs to come with how our roads are perceived, who owns our roads."

Elaborating on this, she said: "We're all just people trying to use these roads to get on."

She also sees a divide between rich and poor areas when it came to walking and cycling.

"What's been most stark to me is the difference between socio-economic areas,” she said. “The people in our more deprived areas are dependent on our public transport; they walk and cycle more.

"It's the people from our more affluent areas that can afford to that are more dependent on the car. That's harsh isn't it – 'the rich people are the problem' – but that's the reality of our world."

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