a strategic and properly funded programme of road user training, to eliminate the risk of HGVs to cyclists and pedestrians
Much is made of developing training for cyclists in the CAPS yet Bikeability is not fully funded, and Cycling Scotland is dependent on volunteers to carry out vital training in schools. But training should not be confined to children – nor even just to cyclists. All Scottish residents should have access to affordable cycle training, whether children, adult returning cyclists, and those in later life. Further, HGV drivers, bus drivers and other professional drivers should be required to take an on-bike qualification (or a theoretical module if physically unable to cycle) as part of their licensing requirement and be made aware of the needs of both pedestrians and cyclists, and the Scottish government should press the UK government to introduce these measures .
Linked to the previous point, and for the same reasons - education, you can't beat it.
solid research and statistics on cycling
We can only improve decision-making and policy development with solid research. The information that records how many people are cycling is very poor at the national level and inconsistent at the local level. This makes it difficult to monitor what is happening and which interventions have greatest impact. At a minimum counts should be carried out twice a year using standardised protocols for data collection and handling, taking into account cyclists using off-road facilities as well as those on the public highway. Where possible electronic counters with public displays should be used, as in Copenhagen and other cities, which count the number of cyclists passing through certain areas as these can provide both feedback and encouragement. These would become a talking point and a public reminder to cyclists that they are part of a growing band taking control of their health – and their freedom.
Working out what is right and wrong when it comes to cycling is difficult without data, and trust us, we put together the Numbers Game every month and cycling data is hard to come by. Let's stop guessing. Let's stop putting things in place on a hunch, and then not monitoring whether it was a success or not. In short, let's just be sensible about it, and not leave anything to chance.
There is all to play for and so little to lose. Proper investment in cycling is not a zero-sum game. It will bring so much more than the expenditure put in, benefits which will gradually be reflected in a changing, healthier population. We all know our natural resources are not infinite and we would irresponsible not to think of ways of making them last, but cycling is hardly a hair-shirt option. Rather it is a joyous way to get about – but one that has become confined to a hardy few because of the conditions on our roads. From Kirkpatrick MacMillan onwards, Scotland has a long history of popular cycling which has been all but forgotten. We believe these times can come again and Scotland can once more be a beacon for the world.
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Work as if you are in the early days of a better nation – Alistair Gray