On Monday a column in the Scotsman argued that when it comes to the construction of pop-up cycle lanes, cyclists somehow need to “do something in return”. Responding to the piece, Cycling UK has asked why people on bikes should need to meet special criteria before they are kept safe.
Scotland has pledged £10m for ‘pop-up’ cycle lanes and widened footways to help people maintain a safe physical distance during the coronavirus lockdown.
In her column, Helen Martin said she thought this was a good idea. However, she then laid out conditions she felt should apply to that investment.
“What matters is that lanes are used, and not pavements or pedestrian paths; cyclists have lights and luminous jackets (not wearing black) at night; and they obey traffic lights where they apply.
“Failure of any of those could involve a small fine just to make sure they adhere to the investment.”
She added: “To get the support of everyone for this investment it would be only fair to have cyclists comply with reasonable rules.”
In a letter to the newspaper, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns, Duncan Dollimore, asked why those who ride bikes should need to meet special criteria to be kept safe. He also highlighted how these kinds of road improvements bring benefits to those who choose not to cycle.
“It’s worth pointing out (because it wasn’t mentioned) that these facilities are to allow people to get around and take exercise whilst maintaining social distancing guidelines,” he wrote. “They are to keep people safe in the time of coronavirus.
“They’re not just for cyclists either. Temporary measures like wider pavements, new cycle lanes and road closures will create more space for everyone sharing the open air. People walking, kids on scooters, wheelchair users, parents pushing prams and yes, people riding bikes. We all need to keep two metres apart, and there isn’t currently enough space to do that everywhere.
“Your columnist rightly acknowledges that these facilities will bring other benefits too, like reducing toxic emissions, promoting cheaper and healthier ways to get around and preventing accidents. Sounds like a no-brainer then?
“Not according to Helen, who argues that cyclists should prove themselves to be worthy of such safe infrastructure. Let’s remember that cyclists are just people riding bikes. Whether we are on foot, riding a bike, taking the bus or driving a car, we’re all people trying to get from A to B.
“Why should people on bikes meet special criteria before they are kept safe? We don’t group people who use other methods of transport together in the same way. If we decided that all motorists must stop speeding before any more money is spent on them, our road builders could pack up for good.
“I’m sure we can all agree that measures to keep people safe, to enable key workers get to their jobs and to help us all take our much-needed daily exercise are positive. So let’s get behind these pop-up facilities – they’re for everyone.”