LAST month, the London School of Economics published research suggesting that half of all Britons had been inspired by Team GB's cycling success to get into the saddle themselves.
A few weeks on, two of the Olympic team's brightest lights have been injured on the roads – and today, we report that the number of serious injuries to cyclists and pedestrians in Scotland has risen sharply, by 13% and 12% respectively.
We can only hope that these revelations will not deter those new cycling enthusiasts. Given the importance of cutting carbon emissions and tackling obesity, all of us need to walk and cycle more, and drive less. Moreover, if parents are to feel confident about letting their children walk and cycle to school, urgent action is needed to make the streets safer.
Dedicated cycle paths, the extension of 20mph zones and the enforcement of speed limits are urgently needed. So, too, is investment in education aimed at everyone who uses the roads. For while it is true that cyclists and pedestrians can be guilty of jumping red lights or jay-walking, police report that two-thirds of crashes involving adult cyclists are drivers' fault, and that just one in five is caused solely by the cyclist.
Most importantly, perhaps, all road users need to start treating each other with respect. Too many drivers see cyclists as a nuisance when, in fact, they are helping to reduce the volume of traffic, keeping our streets cleaner, quieter and more pleasant for everyone. Meanwhile, bike-users who ride hazardously on pavements endanger the lives of pedestrians and sour attitudes towards cyclists.
By 2020, the Scottish Government hopes one in 10 of all journeys will be made by bicycle. It's an ambitious target – but what have we got to lose from helping to make it happen?
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