Finally I decided to contact my MP and complain about the way cyclists are treated by other road users, the Government policy on greener transport with their corresponding lack of protection for cyclists, and the poor respose of the Police in my reported crime.
I decided to use the excellent site Writetothem.com, and start from the bottom up, mainly because I had no idea who to contact. First was my local Councillor.
I was surprised at how quickly he contacted me after my email and also that he asked for my number to call and chat. That though was where the good impression ended.
Firstly let me paint the background for you. You can read about my bike accident and below you can see a copy of the email sent through Writetothem.
I am writing to you regarding the Government policy for greener transport and the issues faced by those attempting to follow those guidelines.
I live in this place, and work in another place. Those means a double bus journey totalling ninety minutes, which takes me into the centre of town and then out to another place.
With that in mind, and the move to greener transport solutions, I have left the car at home and started cycling to and from work. This has meant my car mileage has totalled around three thousand miles a year, something Mr Prescott should be envious of.
However cycling on Edinburgh roads is no easy task. Currently, after only six months of cycling, I have been knocked off my bicycle twice. Now I don’t mean by accident, both drivers blatantly veered direction towards me, and both drivers were perfectly aware of my presence. For more details you can read about the incidents on my website at the links below.
This latter incident clearly shows that I reported the incident to the Police who have yet to contact me some three months later. Other cyclists at my work have mentioned that they have reported incidents themselves and either heard nothing or been told there is nothing to be done.
Let me be clear that I do observe all road laws as any other vehicle would. Not because I am some grumpy old man, but because if something were to happen to me any insurance compensation would be compromised if I did not, and this is looking more and more likely.
I stop at red lights and junctions and even obey pedestrian crossings. I also cycle a third of the way across my lane to retain a defensive road position and ensure other vehicles notice me, wear reflective clothing and use legal cycle lights, yet none of this helps.
Every day there are multiple incidents of cars speeding by me within inches of my arm, pulling right in front of me, blasting their horns from behind, etc. and the more serious “almost accident” occurs at least once a week.
Another story from my site shows an example of the daily incident that occurs when cycling on the roads.
It has now come to the point where I am giving up cycling to work and actually returning to driving, against the greener transport ideal.
There are multiple questions that arise from these issues:
1. Does the Scottish Executive want more people to take to cycling?
2. What actual steps are going to be done to make the roads safer for cyclists?
3. How can I be persuaded not to take to my car for commuting?
4. Why are the Police not reacted to reported crimes such as this?
5. Why are the Police more interested in educating cyclists in the Road Traffic Act than they are in actually protecting them?
I would be interested to hear your views on the above and answers to these questions.
So there I was talking to my Councillor and thinking that something positive might actually come out of it. I was soon put right as I was told that he had nothing to do with the Police, despite a charming story of having dinner with a senior officer who complained how stretched they were. He was responsible for the roads and could help out with any problems there, but not with the Police.
He had no idea what the Scottish Executive thought about the Green policy, nor did he know what the Government thought. Of course they would like more people cycling and he understood how dangerous it was, but just the other day a kid pulled out in front of him through red lights!
However, it wasn’t him I needed to speak to, if it was roads he could help me, after all he was fixing a fence up my way.
Great, was there anyone he could direct me to who could help me? He didn’t know who could help, and after all they probably wouldn’t listen.
So with that his allocated time was up, and having felt he had feigned listening to me enough he was off. I was surprised at his lack of information of who I could contact, and despite him clinging on to his role for looking after the roads, he never commented on making them safer for cyclists. Frankly I think he has a cheek claiming responsibility for them considering the amount of potholes and botched half hearted repairs on the streets I cycle on.
Next step it’s my MP.