memoriam lane

When I started doing this seven years ago I'd not long resumed cycling after a brief bikeless hiatus in between skidding off sideways going down Bank Street and getting a new bike after a month packed with overtime. Around that time it was still normal to have a bus deliberately attempt to kill you at least once per journey, often by attempting to scrape you off against some railings, though the removal thereof had begun, particularly noticeable on Princes Street. Today, Lothian Buses' drivers are renowned around Edinburgh for having noticeably benefited from decent driver training including cyclist-awareness, whilst in comparison companies like FirstBus sport the same vicious and inconsiderate arsewit drivers and smoke-billowing vehicles we had to deal with seven years ago. Through a little concerted effort, a little leadership, a little investment and training a bus operator has become noticeably tolerant of cyclists; though they're still not perfect and still attract complaint they have been known to attract nods of appreciation through their website's contact form.

In comparison, despite signing the Charter of Brussels in 2009 (and claiming to aim for 15% of 2020's trips to be by bicycle) the council has stuck a few coloured chippings down in a few gutters, ballsed up a few junctions and is currently trying to sneak through a few retrograde alterations to the plans to make Leith Walk less of a pedestrian-hating cyclist-threatening fuckup than it currently is, claiming insufficient funding to effect a decent repair job on an imperilled street after giving away a huge pile of money to some people who can't lay tram tracks without getting the concrete at the wrong level, gouging water mains open and unnecessarily destroying several pleasingly large trees in order to find somewhere to keep their plant and supplies whilst the place they should have kept their plant and supplies in was acting as a car park.

Similarly, the government, occasionally cited as the reason why the council have no funds to do anything nice for pedestrians and cyclists, are going ahead with their massively expensive whopping great new bridge, on which there is no provision for pedestrians and cyclists, somewhat fucking up people's chances of commuting actively to and from Fife when maintenance-funding for the existing path-equipped bridge is diverted towards more road-building dries up. They might also find a bit of spare money somewhere for adding a few more bits of extra lane onto existing roads so that people can shave a few minutes off their journey times to and from Inverness. If they wanted to dual something to Inverness so that people and freight can get there quickly and safely, putting an extra track beside the existing railway would be more sensible.

In the past seven years a number of people have been killed by motor vehicles whilst cycling. The recent flurry in the past few weeks including two in Scotland drove a local cycling campaigner to organise a ghost-bike installation at Holyrood, horribly-timed to coincide with another death this morning, of a woman near Drumnadrochit. The tally on the tombstone has already been suitably incremented; with five months left to go this year the total cyclist deaths for 2013 is already equal to that of 2012.

It should not take deaths to encourage action by the people who are charged with oversight of our care, but even with the incentive of being able to prevent direct deaths from reduced motor-vehicle interaction and indirect death-reduction through improved health from greater physical activity and cleaner air, nothing is done.

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