Jul 262013

Shocked and angered by the deaths of two people on bikes in the space of a week, a group of Edinburgh cyclists has taken action on behalf of all cyclists in Scotland in drawing attention to the latest tragedies. With thanks to Sara Dorman.

Two white-painted ghost bikes were left outside the Scottish Parliament on Monday 22 July to commemorate all eight cyclists including two children already killed in Scotland in 2013.

The number of cyclists killed on Scotland’s roads in 2012 rose to nine from 2011’s seven.
This looks set to rise again in 2013.

Almost as if to illustrate, grotesquely, the protest, just forty minutes after the sombre ceremony at the Parliament building, Mary Brook (59) of Drumnadrochit was killed as she cycled on Loch Ness side, the ninth cyclist to die on Scotland’s road this year.

The Scottish Government has rejected calls made by Pedal on Parliament, public health experts and MSPs to increase spending on cycling infrastructure, including safe, separated cycle tracks, to £20 per head. The recent Cycling Action Plan for Scotland also rejected calls for the implementation of strict liability laws in civil cases, claiming that as road casualty figures were falling overall, there was no case to be made for this change.

Ghost bikes have been used around the world to mark locations of fatal cycle accidents, to act both as memorial and warning. Andy Arthur, a cyclist involved in the Holyrood installation, explained the reasoning behind it.

We feel that the blame for these avoidable deaths must lie as much with the inaction of the Scottish Government as with the drivers concerned. The political leadership in Holyrood have the power and the budgets to do something about the safety of cycling, yet they seem to lack political will.

 “By leaving the memorial in full view of Parliament we hope it will stir our elected representatives into action, or else shame them for their inaction. It emerged spontaneously out of the real anger and hurt we felt at the news of yet another death this week, coming on top of the loss of two members of the Edinburgh Triathletes club in separate crashes this year.’”

Sara Dorman, among the organisers of Pedal on Parliament, said:

Only two months ago 4000 people pedalled on the Scottish Parliament to ask for just £100m a year to make Scotland’s roads safer for everyone, from eight to eighty, to cycle.

“Sadly, this year we’ve seen the death of an eight year old and someone who was almost eighty. Unfortunately, the state of our roads means that deaths are inevitable, as bikes are regularly brought into conflict with fast-moving traffic. Despite the government finding £3bn to dual the A9, supposedly on safety grounds, they’ve told us there’s no money to increase investment in safer cycling and all they’ve suggested is an information campaign urging mutual respect, the sort of campaign which has failed over and over in the past.

“It seems that there’s no sum too large to make the roads safer for driving, but when it comes to the safety of people on bikes, even children, then even the smallest sum is begrudged. We hope that Scotland’s politicians will see these memorials and show real leadership in making cycling safer for everyone.”

A memorial to all cyclists fatally-injured in the last five years was unveiled with the ghost bikes. It reads:

“This Memorial was placed here on July 22nd 2013 by a small group of Edinburgh cyclists; for and on behalf of all cyclists in Scotland. It has been placed here in memory of each cyclist killed on Scotland’s roads in recent years; these were people’s friends and loved ones; husbands and wives, fathers and mothers; sons and daughters; grandparents, aunts and uncles.

“The tally on this memorial shows how deaths amongst cyclists on Scotland’s roads are increasing. In mid-2013, the per-capita death rate for cyclists on Scotland’s roads is 3 times that of London. The Scottish Transport Secretary states that fatalities are down on our roads and that they are safer than ever. This is not the case, and the inaction and denial on the part of the Scottish Government must stop now.

“This Memorial accompanies Ghost Bikes, which have been placed outside the Scottish Parliament so that they are in full view of our elected representatives, who have the power, authority and budgets to do all that it takes to tackle the preventable loss of life on our roads. Ghost Bikes have been used all over the world as a memorial to cyclists who have been killed or severely injured on the road.

“All it takes for people to keep being killed cycling on Scotland’s roads is for our Government to keep doing nothing”


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  7 Responses to “Holyrood Ghost Bikes – NE Cycling Casualties Commemorated”

  1. The casualty rate is shocking. The point about the investment in the A9 on safety grounds is the crux of the whole issue. Whilst I am a car owner, I use it as sparingly as possible. It’s become a dangerous lottery. Even drivers in the slower traffic in the city seem to be taking more and more dangerous chances with disregard for speed limits, red and amber signals and dangerous parking.

    I cycle and walk as often as I can and generally have no problems, but if we are to ease congestion and pollution and tackle the obesity and fitness problem, we must invest in infrastructure to SEPARATE cyclists from motorists. The perceived risks on two wheels are a reason always given by would-be cyclusts fir their reluctance to use two wheels rather than four.

  2. The situation of Aberdeen’s sole ghost bike is a joke. Hidden away on the riverside it might as well be in the middle of Rubislaw Quarry. The accident happened at the roundabout not a hundred yards away to satisfy some officious plonker worried about distracting motorists. One of the main objectives of ghost bikes is to increase awareness of accident black-spots.

    We also need ghost bikes at the Haudagain and Kings Gate/Anderson Drive roundabouts!

    • Ewen. If you look above there is a link to last year’s article about the ghost bike at Riverside. There’s a link to BeCycle, the volunteer cycling organisation in High St, Old Aberdeen, who made the commemoration. There’s a link to BeCycle in the article, as I recall. You’ll be able to make the suggestion directly to BeCycle via that link. Stay safe. David.

  3. While any loss of life on our roads is tragic, the actions of a section of the cycling fraternity do their cause no favours – the pavement riding, red light ignoring group. The sad fact is that patience – said to be a virtue – is sadly lacking in many road users, cyclists included. Yes, cycling should be actively promoted as a means of better health (if you exclude the traffic fumes in our cities) but, a marked increase in police presence is required to control the excesses/stupidity of many road users. Some cities have cameras installed on traffic lights to catch, and bring to book, offenders. Perhaps this is a way forward in The Granite City. It would certainly give ACC a significant income which could be used to improve the plight of cyclists and pedestrians alike.

  4. This morning we had the service of one of the children killed while out on his bike on a rural road right at the start of the school holidays. Please everyone take extra care.

  5. Until my bicycle was stolen I used to cycle a lot, I don’t intend to ever cycle again due to the dangerous car and bus drivers in Aberdeen.

  6. Hi Ron

    I share your disapproval of pavement cyclists, cyclists who jump red lights, cyclists who wear no hi-viz or display lights during dark hours. I obey the law and take every precaution I can to make myself visible when biking in the dark.

    In my experience, these are in the minority and when I have occasionaly asked pavement cyclists why they do it, the usual response is that they don’t feel safe on the road. If we are to stop such behaviour, proper, serious infrastructure has to be provided. There is no alternative to this if we are to stop the appalling casualty rate. I admit, however, there will always be irresponsible people on bikes, jyst as there will always be irresponsible vehicle drivers.

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