Pedal on Parliament congratulates Sir Chris Hoy and the rest of the British cycling team for their astounding success both in the velodrome and on the road (and not just because he supported Pedal on Parliament). British cyclists now dominate the world when it comes to racing and as a nation we’ve proved we can produce world class cyclists in almost every discipline.
We have no doubt that this will be an enormous boost for cycling across the nation and we have no doubt that when Sir Chris returns to Scotland every politician will want to be seen congratulating him on his success. But we hope that he – and every other cyclist in Scotland – gets more than just congratulations. Let’s see a real golden legacy for cycling in this country – not just a golden post box. We’d like to see the Sir Chris Hoy Cycle Highway Network – built, of course, to a Gold Standard – springing up around Scotland. And we know two places where it should start, and start soon.
In Edinburgh – Chris Hoy’s home town – there’s a huge opportunity to revamp Leith Walk with safe, separated cycle lanes as part of the work to restore the road (considered one of Britain’s worst to cycle on) after the trams work. When residents were consulted about what they’d like to see happen on Leith Walk, segregated cycle tracks came top of the list – but it appears that City of Edinburgh Council won’t even consider this as an option. Putting in this infrastructure would be the most fitting tribute we could think of to honour Sir Chris, and to encourage future Sir Chris’s to get on two wheels and follow his example.
And then there’s Glasgow – future host of the Commonwealth Games, and home of course of the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. Yet away from the shiny new track, Glasgow’s roads are some of the most hostile to cyclists in Scotland, with two riders killed in hit and runs this winter – and a total of 57 cyclists killed or seriously injured in Strathclyde last year. Building a safe network of routes to and around the Velodrome – and the other games venues – would do a vast amount to encourage Scottish cycling, as well as easing Glasgow’s traffic woes. And yet the council have shown no will to build such a network, unless it’s part funded by Sustrans. Instead cyclists have been warned not to publicise the poor facilities in their city lest that put people off cycling and hence lead to even less being spent on cycling in the future. That really is no way to build a legacy.
As Sir Chris shakes the hands of those politicians anxious to congratulate him and see a bit of his gold dust rub off on them, we hope they plan more than just photo opportunities. We hope they sieze the moment to create a real legacy in honour of our Olympians. The time is now. Let’s make Scotland a truly golden cycle-friendly nation.