Tomorrow, the Scottish Government will be launching its latest campaign, the ‘Nice Way Code’ and we have to say we’re disappointed. Research shows that the most effective means to reduce road deaths are changes to the road environment and lower speeds. Education campaigns, especially where not backed up by visible enforcement, do very little. Spending nearly £500,000 asking drivers, cyclists and pedestrians all to be nicer to one another offers poor value for money on its own. Coming on top of the Scottish government’s last education campaign ‘Give me Cycle Space’, which did little to reassure parents that their children would be safe on Scotland’s roads, this “words rather than actions” approach demonstrates the government’s lack of commitment to saving the lives of cyclists and other vulnerable road users. It is particularly urgent in light of five years of rising cycling deaths, with nine cyclists already killed in 2013; the same total as the whole of 2012 with five months of the year still to go. In 2009 the total was just four.
Sally Hinchcliffe, one of the organisers of POP, commented
While we don’t disagree that behaviour needs to improve between road users, simply asking us all to be nice to one another without backing it up with real changes and enforcement is a waste of taxpayers’ money. Most drivers don’t set out to harm anyone, whether they’re cyclists or not. It’s the way our roads are designed and policed that put drivers and people on bikes into conflict. We’d rather see that money spent on cutting speeds, or improving known accident black spots. It’s a drop in the ocean, but it would be a start.’
David Brennan, another of the POP organisers added, ‘
The government is keen to encourage more people on their bikes, and yet they are putting no effort into making the roads safer for these prospective new cyclists. I know of no country in the world where cycling has become safer and more common place through advertising alone. There are however, many examples of countries with excellent road safety records for all road users where they have invested in cycling infrastructure. With the government pushing on with a number of very expensive road projects with billion pound price tags, is it too much to ask for £100m a year to be spent on saving cyclists lives and on investing in a healthier more environmentally friendly Scotland?’