rooo 82 Books 84 BIKES 79 [RAVEL so
Spokesmen for regeneration
From potholes to protein bars, the next five pages present a look at life in the cycle lane. To push off, Sue Wilson champions the achievements of Central Scotland’s ground-breaking two-wheeled pressure groups.
When Scotland on Sunday broke the news that Scotrail had banned bicycles on the 158 Express services linking Scotland’s cities, the response filled one of the largest postbags the newspaper had ever received on a single issue. With cycling’s popularity steadily increasing, fuelled by the health boom, environmental concerns and the new-found glamour of mountain bikes, two-wheeled travellers are becoming ever more assertive in their demands to be taken into account in planning and transport policy.
The Glasgow Cycle Campaign had lain dormant for some time before the Scotrail ban provided the impetus for its recent resurrection. It mounted a demonstration outside Queen Street station, adding to the flood of protest from outraged cyclists around Scotland, and within a few days was celebrating its first (partial) victory when rail bosses announced that bikes would be carried after all — with a £3 reservation charge. The group now plans to campaign for improvements in other areas.
‘Our first aim is to assess the issues
which most concern cyclists,’ says GCC member Helen Vecht. ‘We’re finding that the main problems are drivers’ behaviour — a lot of people
1 ‘ . 2' : I V ’
' . g y 0 l I
are scared of the traffic- and, probably most of all, lack ofsecure parking— there’s a big theft problem in Glasgow, and ifyour bike’s likely to get stolen when you use it, it’s a big disincentive. More generally, we want to get local councils to recognise cyclists’ needs — a lot of the problems we face now are because we’ve been left out in planning of roads, building developments and so on in the past.’
Local authorities are coming to recognise the need to cater for cyclists — Strathclyde appointed a Cycle Officer and Deputy last year, and Lothian’s three-strong Cycle Project Team has been operating for some time. The latter is due in large
The Edinburgh—St Andrew’s cycle rioe
part to pressure from the Lothian cycle campaign, Spokes, which lobbied persistently for a cycle team to be established, and now works with councils planning new facilities and providing information about the impact of road or building developments on cyclists.
‘We have achieved a far higher awareness of cyclists’ needs, so we’re fighting a little bit more from the inside now,’ says Spokes’ Ian Maxwell. ‘In many ways Lothian is now leading the UK in terms of cycling provision, but there’s still a lot to be done, like monitoring all the new developments happening around Lothian. and ofcourse the whole problem of congestion is
of smug gits zapping
reaction to the multitudes "
getting steadily worse. We're also working on the Lothian Cycle 2000 scheme with the Regional Council — the aim is to have a strategic cycle route network by the year 2000, with much safer walking and cycling conditions in all residential areas.’ Considerable progress towards these goals has been made already, with many disused railway lines being converted into cycleways, often with the help of Sustrans, a UK-wide charity which builds safe routes for walkers and disabled people as well as cyclists.
Increased cycle use would not only benefit riders, but everyone affected by pollution and traffic congestion. Cycling is the ideal way to get around in a city, and with a properly integrated public transport system, which cycle campaigns are pressing for, bikes could be carried on trains over long distances, thus cutting traffic on urban and trunk roads. After all, cycling is far from a minority interest, as Sandy Scotland of Spokes points out. ‘In the UK as a whole there are more bicycles than cars; sales of bikes are higher than of cars, but people don’t use their bikes to get to work, or school or whatever because they see it as too dangerous, and because there aren’t enough facilities.’ The work oforganisations like Glasgow Cycle Campaign, Spokes and Sustrans, together with positive action from local authorities, might yet free us from the tyranny of the car and allow this hidden majority ofcyclists to take to the roads without fear.
I Glasgow Cycle Campaign and Sustrans Scotland 53 Cochrane Street, Glasgow, 552 8241.
I Spokes Lothian Cycle Campaign St Martin’s Church, 232 Dalry Road, Edinburgh, 313 2114.
1/ handlebars are offering infinitely more
them into the face of oncoming traffic, and
Tyred of them all
Tom Lappin lets out air about his two-wheeled brethren.
Make ofthis what you will, but I never had a bike when I was a kid. While my friends whizzed off to the park on their Choppers, l languished at home gluing my Subbuteo teams back together.
Perhaps psychologists will find this an obvious deep-seated reason for my antipathy towards the two-wheeled abominations. Maybe, but I prefer to think it a reasoned and logical
around our highways in ludicrous dayglo outfits.
Why do cyclists wear those outlandish garments that make harlequins look like a funeral party? The males are intent on donning trousers so clinging you can make out every crease and wrinkle of skin in their groin. ‘Cuts down wind resistance,‘ they say airily, ignoring the fact that the eight
plastic bags of Lucozade Sport hanging offthe
resistance than a couple of inches of
*‘slack in the gusset.
Have you ever tried driving down a narrow country road behind a couple of cyclists? They’ve just come back from an Istanbul—Fort William Road Race or some such ridiculous event and are wobbling all over the shop, forcing you to attempt to overtake
cursing you blind ifyou happen to come within three yards ofthem. In cities of course, they don’t confine themselves to the roads. When traffic getsa tad slow. they just shunt themselves onto the pavements and cruise along knocking aside pensioners. toddlers and blind people alike. After all, they‘re environment- friendly aren’t they?
ON FOLLOWING PAGES: SAFETY HELMETS O GROUP CYCLING O PROTEIN BARS O MOUNTAIN BIKES
The List 28June- 11 July 1991 79