Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Re-posting: Pedal on Parliament

Ghost bikes for fallen cyclists planned

Angered and shocked by the deaths of two people on bikes in the space of a week, a group of Edinburgh cyclists are taking action on behalf of all cyclists in Scotland to draw attention to the latest tragedies. Two 'ghost bikes' - white-painted bikes which represent a fallen bike rider - will be left outside the Scottish Parliament on Monday morning, representing not just the two latest deaths, but the eight people, two of them children, killed on bikes already this year in Scotland. A memorial to all the fallen in the last five years is also being created. The family of Douglas Brown, who succumbed to his injuries after being knocked off his bike by a tipper truck in West Lothian last week, also hope to be in attendance.

Last month, figures were released showing that the number of cyclists killed on Scotland's roads last year had risen, from seven in 2011 to nine in 2012 and, shockingly, looks set to rise again even more in 2013. This year, there have already been eight deaths, including 14-year-old Connor Shields and 79-year-old Douglas Brown. The Scottish Government has rejected calls made by Pedal on Parliament, public health experts and MSPs to increase the amount spent on cycling infrastructure, including safe, separated cycle tracks, to £20 per head. The recent Cycling Action Plan for Scotland also rejected calls for the implementation of 'strict liability' laws in civil cases where vulnerable road users are injured, claiming that, as road casualty figures were falling overall, there was no case to be made for it.

Ghost bikes have been used around the world to mark places where a fatal accident occurred, acting as both a memorial and a warning. Andy Arthur, who was one of the cyclists involved explained why theses ones were being installed at Holyrood instead, "the bikes are being brought to Parliament because we feel that the blame for these avoidable deaths must lie as much with the inaction of the Scottish government as with the drivers concerned. It is the political leadership in Holyrood who have the power and the budgets to do something about the safety of cycling, yet they seem to lack political will. By leaving the memorial in full view of Parliament we hope it will stir some our elected representatives to action, or else shame them for their inaction. It emerged spontaneously out of the real anger and hurt we felt at the news of yet another death this week - coming on top of the loss of two members of the Edinburgh Triathletes club in separate crashes this year". 

Sara Dorman, one of the organisers of Pedal on Parliament, said "Only two months ago 4,000 people pedalled on the Scottish Parliament to ask for just £100 million a year to make Scotland's roads safer for everyone - from 8 to 80 - to cycle. Sadly, this year we've seen the death of an eight-year-old and someone who's almost 80. Unfortunately, the state of our roads means that deaths are inevitable as bikes are regularly brought into conflict with fast-moving traffic. Despite the government finding £3bn to dual the A9 - supposedly on safety grounds - they've told us there's no money to increase investment into safer cycling and all they've suggested is an information campaign urging mutual respect, the sort of campaign which has failed over and over in the past. It seems that there's no sum too large to make the roads safer for driving, but when it comes to the safety of people on bikes, even children, then even the smallest sum is begrudged. We hope that Scotland's politicians will see these memorials and show real leadership in making cycling safer for everyone." 

The bike(s) and monument will be installed on Monday at 8am, by a delegation of Edinburgh's cyclists outside the Parliament building. 

The 8 cyclists who have died this year are

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

This does not include Edinburgh cyclist and triathlete Andrew McMenigal, 47, who was killed on the 2nd July in Cornwall at the start of a Land's End to John O'Groats ride for charity.

Photographers and crews are welcome and photographs will also be available after the event - contact Andy Arthur

For more details contact Andy Arthur 07717537084 or Sara Dorman 07747 394994 

Sara Dorman on behalf of Pedal on Parliament

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