THERE is more than a touch of smoke-and-mirrors emerging in transport minister Derek Mackay’s recent reply to Green MSP Alison Johnstone’s query on bikes on the Borders Railway.
Mr Mackay stated that space allocation is “always challenging” due to competing needs for the likes of seating, cycle racks, toilets, luggage space, facilities for disabled passengers and people with prams.
Curiously, and possibly more than by coincidence, his reply matches almost word-for-word the response from First ScotRail managing director Steve Montgomery in a letter from him to me in May last year about bikes on trains.
I suggest Mr Mackay has simply been fed a line from the First ScotRail book of clichés when he talks of space being “challenging”. Translated, this means that there isn’t any.
I write from a background of touring by bike over 176,000 miles, and in every continent bar Antarctica. First ScotRail provides the poorest bike transport anywhere. Repeat: anywhere.
As for the suggestion of a cyclist hiring a bike at one station to leave it at another, to which cyclist would this apply? Not to anyone I know.
The Borders Railway is to be served by outdated and inferior 158s, antiques of the present boasting a mere two bike spaces maximum.
The cycling industry in the Borders is valuable and thriving, not just in sport (mountain biking) but in touring and leisure cycling. By a policy of restricted bike access to trains, the Scottish Government and First ScotRail (or its successors Abellio) play their parts in strangling the industry.
In two parliamentary answers, Mr Mackay said the train company had confirmed there would be “at least” two cycle spaces per train. We’ll be lucky if there are two. Take my word for it.
BRENDA Mitchell brings in emotive examples of death and injury to substantiate her desire for “presumed liability” in civil law so that the motor vehicle driver is immediately deemed responsible for accidents involving cyclists unless he/she can prove otherwise (Letters, 18 March)
She signs her letter as founder, Road Share and Cycle Law Scotland but as she is also an experienced compensation lawyer specialising in personal injury, motor cycle and bicycle accident claims, she has a vested interest in her quest to apportion blame to the motorist.
What would be her verdict when a cyclist is injured on the road when they were not using the cycle path provided?
She, however, ignores the points I made about a compulsory identification number and law-breaking cyclists having points put on their driving licence.
I am sure that responsible cyclists would agree that the rogue cyclist tarnishes them. Will Brenda Mitchell support these ideas or is the cyclist always right?
Linlinthgow, West Lothian