Cycle safety campaign ‘a waste of taxpayers’ cash’

Campaigners want to see better safety menasures for cyclists. Picture: Danny Lawson
Campaigners want to see better safety menasures for cyclists. Picture: Danny Lawson
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A NEW Scottish Government road safety campaign has been criticised as showing “a lack of commitment” to saving lives on Scotland’s roads.

The Nice Way Code, launched by transport minister Keith Brown, asks people to make small changes to increase road safety and improve the experience of driving, cycling or walking for everyone.

The initiative asks drivers to give cyclists more space, overtake them with care and to look carefully for pedestrians crossing, while cyclists are asked to obey red lights and not cycle on pavements. Pedestrians are included, with messages about not trying to cross the road while looking at a mobile phone.

But cycling campaign group Pedal on Parliament (Pop) said: “Research shows that the most effective means to reduce road deaths are changes to the road environment and lower speeds.

“Education campaigns, especially where not backed up by visible enforcement, do very little. Spending nearly £500,000 asking drivers, cyclists and pedestrians all to be nicer to one another offers poor value for money on its own.”

The group also criticised the government’s 2012 campaign, Give Me Cycle Space, as doing little to reassure parents that children would be safe on bikes.

“This ‘words rather than actions’ approach demonstrates the government’s lack of commitment to saving the lives of cyclists and other vulnerable road users,” the Pop statement read. “It is particularly urgent in light of five years of rising cycling deaths, with nine cyclists already killed in 2013 – the same as the whole of 2012 with five months of the year still to go. In 2009, the total was just four.”

The campaign, funded by Transport Scotland and initiated by Cycling Scotland, will use television adverts.

Mr Brown said: “The Nice Way Code campaign seeks to build a culture of tolerance and patience between cyclists, motorists, pedestrians and all other road users across Scotland. While the numbers of road casualties in Scotland are at their lowest ever level, there is still simply no room for complacency.

“I believe this campaign will play its part in making Scotland’s roads safer for all users in the future.”

Superintendent Iain Murray, head of road policing for Police Scotland, said: “We have seen in recent weeks the tragic consequences of cyclists and pedestrians being involved in road traffic crashes and incidents and there is a responsibility on all road users to be prepared, act responsibly and be aware of others around them at all times.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Road safety is everyone’s responsibility and we make no apology for raising awareness of this issue or for seeking to improve behaviour.

“In terms of funding, an average of £3.80 per head is currently spent on cycling in Scotland – more than double the amount being spent in England outside of London. Promoting cycling needs to be a partnership endeavour and we are working across ministerial portfolios to identify opportunities to enhance funding where possible.”