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.