SNP’s Nice Way Code made me nasty

The SNP tells me that doctors, lawyers, teachers, bin men and all the other people who are “the cyclists” are misbehaving. It’s made me nastier.

This morning I was not nice… just like everyone else

I won’t tell you what I’ve done, but safe to say it would upset people who are prejudiced against cycling and probably a few people who cycle themselves.

With the Nice Way Code, the Government is telling us (with our own taxes) that cyclists are a dodgy minority out-group who can be expected to misbehave.

The question that plagued my morning commute was this: has the Nice Way Code, ironically, made it easier for people cycling (including me) to bend or break the rules?

On the whole I like to consider myself more or less a model rider, and I’ve always put down attitudes like “cyclists jump red lights!” “don’t pay taxes!” “ride on pavements!” “get off the road!” to the frothing of old Tories desperately trying to be relevant or just the ignoramuses you’ll find in any cross-section of society. The same people who said women didn’t have the capacity to vote, or black people couldn’t sit on the bus, or immigrants had stolen all our jobs.

With cycling deaths in Scotland soaring to a ten year high, it wasn’t too surprising that the SNP wanted to launch some kind of road safety campaign.

What did come as a shock was the discovery that a huge chunk of the active travel budget has been spent on the embarrassing, counter-productive and frankly anti-cycling / anti-pedestrian material that makes up the Nice Way Code.

Screen shot 2013-08-21 at 22.19.41

Yes, the Scottish Government has told me either that it too is populated by prejudiced fools and ignoramuses, or that the behaviour of my growing number of fellow cyclists is actually much “worse” than I’d realised. Almost nothing in the Nice Way Code is remotely relevant to me and the dangers I face or pose as a motorist, pedestrian or cycling about town.

Am I ‘disadvantaging’ myself (in the strict sense of the word) by being excessively nice relative to my peers?

People who cycle represent a fairly broad cross-section of society: politicians, finance chiefs, police and emergency services, military, teachers, doctors, bin men, students. Even some immigrants 😉

When the government tells me that these people are all at it, that definitely damages my resolve not to misbehave. After all, I now realise that a substantial proportion of people in my “group” are behaving in a different way to me. I’m an outlier of an out-group, and I can get back to the mainstream with a bit of nastiness.

This isn’t dissimilar to a change I think I’ve noticed when I ride off road.

Sustrans have harped on and on about people racing along these paths to the point where I feel if I want to put on a squirt of extra speed it doesn’t matter, because so many other people are doing the same. What I previously would have considered inconsiderate (but not dangerous) now seems temptingly like “what everyone else does”. Just how fast can I take the speed bumps and chicane gates on the canal?

Am I going crazy, or is this a natural reaction?

Nicewaycode to inspire child abuse campaign?

Rapists and paedophiles don’t like to be singled out. “We need them to listen, so we’ll be targeting the actions of victims as well,” said a fictitious government source.

Children will be told to ‘cover up’ and ‘respect elders’ in ads against paedophilia

“See child, think nun!”, abusers to be told

It’s been an interesting month for families in Scotland as the SNP’s flagship initiative on road safety, the Nice Way Code, has finally hit the streets.

Screen shot 2013-08-21 at 22.27.27
credit: kenjonbro

With the number of Scots killed on their bikes soaring to a ten year high, Transport Minister Keith Brown clearly felt the need to take the bull by the horns and has invested almost half a million of Scotland’s slender £20m active travel budget on a hard hitting ad campaign.

Based on official police data suggesting that motorists are responsible for over 70% of serious collisions north of the border, agency Newhaven have produced a road safety campaign that has been hailed as “startling in its originality”, targeting dangerous drivers with exciting reverse-psychology advertising that focuses on criticism of pedestrians and cyclists.

One ad mocks cyclists who have been intimidated into riding on the pavement, while another admonishes those knocked off their bikes not to make any kind of rude gesture, lest they offend the motorists who are casually putting their lives in jeopardy.

Targeted messages directed at the motorists who are doing all the killing and maiming are almost wholly absent, but this is just part of the campaign’s subtle brilliance, organisers claim.

Screen shot 2013-08-21 at 22.19.41

Approach to be mirrored in bold new paedophilia campaign

Sources close to the government failed to deny allegations that the Nice Way Code strategy could be rolled out on other issues such as rape, paedophilia and sectarian violence.

“We‘re not saying all behaviours are equal,” said one fictitious source, who asked not to be named, “but based on our unpublished research, keeping the tone light and having messages for parents, children and paedophiles alike is the only way to get people to consider changing their own behaviour.”

In response to the suggestion that it just isn’t appropriate to criticise victims as well as their perpetrators, let alone with money from very limited victim support budgets, they said: “Rapists and paedophiles are obviously a hugely important part of this, but all of our testing showed if you single them out, they will not listen. We need them to listen, so we’ll be targeting the actions of victims as well.”

Strangely, justice and victim support groups have not rushed to embrace these new campaigns as readily as the CTC, Sustrans, the IAM and AA have moved to stamp their seal of approval on the Nice Way Code.

Perhaps they have more integrity – or just more backbone?

Pedal on Parliament: Sunday May 19th

The biggest ever demonstration to take place in the public arena outside the Scottish Parliament is back – Pedal on Parliament 2013

This is the biggest thing you can do in 2013. Be there!

Last year at the end of April, Scotland was rocked when up to three thousand people shut down central Edinburgh, riding between the Meadows and Parliament to ask the Scottish Government to get serious about cycling.

Just a couple of hundred were expected to attend, but it turned out to be the “biggest ever demonstration on any subject to take place in the public arena outside the Scottish Parliament”!

pop2012_5

This year, Pedal on Parliament will take place on closed roads and organisers expect to see an even greater number of families participating after several Edinburgh schools agreed to promote the event.

Formal feeder rides have been established to help get you to the event without hassle, and these are coming from as far away as Glasgow and Kirkaldy if you want to make a big day of it – otherwise there are plenty from different parts of the capital. So you don’t even need to worry about getting to the Meadows!

pop-2012_9
Plenty of families in 2012 – more this year…
by Paul Morris, on Flickr

Taking part in the first Pedal on Parliament was a formative experience for me, one of the greatest things I’ve done in the twelve years I’ve been living in Edinburgh.

Fun, friendly, socially significant – and you’ll never see central Edinburgh in quite this way again.

Spread the word – Sunday May 19th. It’s a must for your diary.

Please see the official Pedal on Parliament website too.

YesScotland: not for cyclists

Why the 7% of us getting about by bike must vote ‘no’ to the SNP and Scottish independence

The SNP has shown the 7% on bikes must vote ‘no’

In 2007 I voted SNP, hoping that they would offer an alternative to the ‘business as usual’ of Labour and the LibDems. I won’t say that Scottish independence was really on my agenda at the time – but it wasn’t a simple protest vote either.

I really hoped that a party purporting to have Scotland’s best interests at heart might be a successful choice.

While in some ways the SNP have distinguished themselves, often it hasn’t been in the way I would have liked (such as removing the tolls over the Forth Bridge then putting me on the hook for the best part of a billion pounds to subsidise a replacement crossing. Nice one guys!)

spending

More large infrastructure projects have followed, but the SNP have steadfastly refused to support active travel. Just look at the infogram above: frankly embarrassing.

Not only have they failed to flood this key area with investment, they actually tried to slash it (leading to much protest, largely led by Spokes). Their policies were even attacked as ‘perverse’.

Salmond: cyclists are “pushing on an open door”. Yes, and it leads us back to LibLab coalition, Alex.

The SNP have failed to show the leadership that I believe is required to build a pleasant Scotland where I want to live, work, and play, and raise my children. They sometimes make nice noises but there is still no major capital fund that can be bid for (unless you want to dual a road).

Ironically, the person showing up the SNP most badly is London Mayor Boris Johnson – the Conservative last week announced sweeping investment in improving the city for residents, businesses, cyclists and pedestrians with a massive investment in active travel.

Can it really be that I helped install a government that is worse at governing Scotland than a well-to-heel Tory would be running it from a London office? It seems so.

City of Edinburgh Council is leading the way (even against London) when it comes to active travel investment in the UK, making a 300% larger commitment than Boris (in relative terms). Unfortunately a significant proportion of a small pot of cash still doesn’t go far.

spending2

I wrote recently to highlight the plight of the Leith Walk redesign. We could have an international-standard boulevard here that is a pleasant place to be, or we could reinstate the existing seven lanes -worth of racing motors and nasty pavements lined with dying businesses.

The Council have already committed five times the annual cycling budget to Leith Walk (albiet paid for from the obscene trams budget, a drop in that ocean). Still not enough, so funding is needed from elsewhere.

We desperately need the SNP to get behind active travel with a massive investment of funds so that projects like this can be done properly. I’ve now come to the conclusion that it isn’t going to happen – SNP have demonstrated they are not fit to deliver the governance and urban change that Scotland requires.

7% of people heading to work in Edinburgh are going by bike. Numbers are growing elsewhere. We want 5% of Scotland’s transport budget, not a fraction of 1%.

We’re all voters. It’s long past time that we exercised the power that comes along with this vote to send a clear message that we will not accept the slow drip feed that the SNP is offering us.

A few people have made the point that independence (in theory) doesn’t necessarily mean a prolonged ride on the SNP bandwagon – we could all vote for their flagship policy then turn around and reject them at the ballot box at the following elections. This is true, but I feel very unlikely – how popular would the unionist vote be if it came with the caveat that Scotland would be ruled by Thatcher again (but maybe only for a while)?

Alex Salmond and John Swinney could convince us otherwise any time they like – but I know they won’t.

I’ll be voting no. Boris is showing us the way to go, and it doesn’t involve the SNP or an independent Scotland.

 

What do you think? Is there any real choice in Scottish politics at all? Drop me a comment with your thoughts…

Pedal on Parliament TRIUMPH!

“A credit to yourselves, a credit to this city” as Scotland’s cyclists storm Parliament… a historic day for cycle advocacy in Scotland, one it’s a privilege even to write about.

“A credit to yourselves, a credit to this city” as Scotland’s cyclists storm Parliament

Huge numbers shut down central Edinburgh as ordinary people from all walks of life demand radical change

pop2012_5

The afternoon of April 28th saw carnage in Edinburgh as a horde of cyclists, officially estimated at two to three thousand strong, rode from the Meadows to Parliament – demanding that the Scottish government implement a raft of measures to address the challenges facing cyclists and the country.

Continue reading “Pedal on Parliament TRIUMPH!”