And Again

Yesterday I was at the Cycling Scotland ‘Go Dutch’ conference. I’ll write about it at more length elsewhere, but suffice it to say it was a mixture of encouraging and sobering. Encouraging because there were actual politicians and council officers there, hopefully having their minds opened and their horizons expanded – and sobering because of the enormous gap between the possibilities suggested by the Dutch and the paucity of what’s going on in Scotland at the moment. The conference was opened by the Scottish Transport Minister – sorry, what am I saying. No, the minister was at a High Speed Rail conference in Glasgow instead because, after all, trains are real transport, but he did take a moment to record a video announcing how seriously he took cycling, intercut with inspiring footage of cyclists squeezing into narrow bike lanes alongside vans. I think this was intended to showcase the brilliant facilities provided for bikes in Edinburgh, the nation’s foremost cycling city, but as the next (Dutch) speaker pointed out, they were exactly the sort of narrow painted-on lanes that they don’t even bother with as they create the illusion of safety without providing any actual safety. The Dutch, bless them, seem to be brilliant at most things, but they really don’t do tact.

In short, six months after we did this, very little has actually changed and, despite a miniscule increase in spending on cycling in the budget, very little looks likely to change in the future either. So after the conference we, and some like minded others, repaired to the pub where we resolved to Pedal on Parliament all over again. Only this time, it will have to be bigger and better than ever.

Stand by.


10 Responses to And Again

  1. Bob says:

    “..they don’t really do tact”. Ha! How true! We lived in the Netherlands for just over a year, and my wife can indeed vouch for that assertion.
    Um, they’re also somewhat challenged at keeping secrets too, it seems, but that’s a completely different matrix.

  2. disgruntled says:

    I was at school with a couple of Dutch kids. If you ever wanted to know how bad that spot on your nose made you look, they were the ones to go to (no need to ask, they’d volunteer the information)

  3. Just for the record the Dutch speaker who commented on the narrow cycle lanes, had just been shown pictures of the “Quality Bike Corridor”, which has the widest cycle lanes in the City. As for tact, well lets just say just mention that Laetitia van den Assum is not one of the Traffic Engineers or other cycle experts, not her full job title is Her Excellency Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Court of St. James’s, so she is possibly one of the most tactful people to have come from the Netherlands.

    I will let you guess what the Traffic Engineers had to say about the “Quality Bike Corridor”.

  4. As for Keith Brown MSP playing with trains, it could have been worst, he could have been cutting the first sod on the widening of the A9.

  5. Jos Helmer says:

    dear townmouse,
    a few things spring to mind: how much is achieved with tact in 25 plus years of cycling campaigning ????
    and don’t forget the speaker is an expert in road design (and not diplomacy) reacting in a foreign language …
    and the Dutch have a saying like: gentle healers make stinking wounds.
    and to the gentleman who lived in the netherlands, I’m almost certain about the language you used abroad, communicating with the locals. was that tactful ?
    kind regards,
    josef in sweden

  6. disgruntled says:

    Josef – thanks, I do actually appreciate the Dutch lack of tact, sometimes directness is needed. I just found it quite amusing at the time…

  7. Michae Brix says:

    Hallo Jos,
    ik zoek Jos Helmer die het laatse ker met mij in kontakt was als hij nog in Alkmaar gewoont hadde.
    Bent U die die naar Sweden met Gunilla verhuist ist jaren geleden..?
    Dann meld Dich mal, meine Lieber…!
    Wanner niet dan wens ik een goede weekend.

    Hartelijke groeten uit Duitsland, Dresden
    Michael Brix
    Mobile +491774235013

  8. […] seem to remember they weren’t all that impressed by Edinburgh […]

  9. […] bother to turn up but post in a video presentation because there’s a much more important meeting about trains they want to be at […]

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