These last few weeks, it’s suddenly turned into one of those summers, the kind we’ve all been longing for, the kind when there is no greater pleasure than to get out in the sunshine and ride a bike. But the news recently has been enough to take some of the shine off the weather. Yesterday a 14-year-old boy was killed on his bike, out riding with his friends in Aberdeenshire. A few days earlier, a 79-year-old man succumbed to his injuries after being crushed by a tipper truck in West Lothian. In fact eight people – from 8 to almost 80 – have died riding their bikes on Scotland’s roads already this year, and it’s only just halfway over.
Last year, nine people died cycling in Scotland. The year before, the total was seven. Each death is one too many, the politicians tell us, but what are they doing to prevent them? It seems to us they’re doing nothing.
The Scottish government is spending £3bn to dual the A9, justifying the cost partially on the grounds that it will make that one road safer for drivers. Yet when we pedalled on Parliament this year to ask for just £100 million a year to make Scotland safer for everyone to cycle, we were told there wasn’t the money. It seems no sum is too large to make the roads safer – but only if you’re in a car. If you’re on a bike, then even the measliest amount is too much.
The sad truth is that the way our roads are designed and our laws are enforced, the more people who cycle, the more people will die or be injured. A long hot summer could mean an even higher toll on our roads.
In London on Tuesday, 2500 people turned out to protest at the last two deaths this week in the capital. They no longer want fine words, they want action and they want it now. They want space for cycling. We want space for cycling too.
We can no longer wait. And for eight people – and eight families – it is already too late
- Alastair Dudgeon, 51, Kincardine (A985) 6th January
- Alistair MacBean, 74, Inverness (A82) 22nd January
- Charles Aimer, 42, Errol (A90) 17th March
- Craig Tetshill, 21, Gorthleck (unclassified road) 16th May
- Kyle Allen, 8, Aberdeen (Great Northern Road) 21st May
- David Wallace, 52, Perth (West Mains Avenue) 12th June
- Douglas Brown, 79, West Lothian (B9080), 11th July
- Connor Shields, 14, Ellon (A975), 17th July