Yesterday the issues of cycling and active travel were once again raised in the Scottish Parliament, proving that the subjects are rising up the political agenda. Three members of the Holyrood Cross Party Cycling group, Claudia Beamish (Lab), Alison Johnstone (Green) and Jim Eadie (SNP) put questions to Keith Brown, the Minister for Transport and Veterans.
The questions and responses can be viewed here.
One response from Mr Brown was particularly interesting. When asked if he would commit to spending more money on cycling infrastructure to improve safety, in his reply Mr Brown said:
“We are not starting from the same position as the Dutch authorities“.
Indeed we are not.
Our Dutch counterparts had to work out how to convert from car focused to bike focused infrastructure by themselves. They had no-one else to learn from. There were no examples of cities reclaiming the streets for cyclists. We, on the other hand, have the benefits of 40 years of Dutch expertise, so there is no need for us to reinvent the wheel. We just need to crack on…
Oh wait, that’s not quite what he meant.
It would appear that Mr Brown was suggesting that the Dutch always had a deep cycling culture in their cities and that it was easier for them to convert than it would be for us. However, this was not the case at all. In fact, it took years of demonstrations by Dutch cyclists to convince their government and councils to invest in cycling.
Demonstrations like Pedal on Parliament.
So Mr Brown, the truth is that we are actually in an excellent position to make safer cycling in Scotland a reality. We only need a culture change. A culture change in Holyrood. Such a shame that you were not able to be a the ‘Love Cycling, Go Dutch’ Edinburgh Conference on Cycling to hear the Dutch Ambassador’s comments on your video presentation.