I READ with interest the results of the British Heart Foundation (BHF) survey in relation to potential death from heart disease and the fact that the average adult in Scotland has not been on a bike in the last nine years (“Scots among the most reluctant cyclists of anywhere in the UK” , The Herald, January 23) . Whilst the sample only included 159 Scots, nevertheless the results are concerning. Why then is it that Scots seem reluctant to want to get on their bikes? Surely it cannot just be the weather conditions or the odd hill here and there?
I believe one of the key reasons why people are not getting on their bikes, especially women and children, is because they believe it to be too dangerous to ride on the roads. We need to ensure that short journeys to schools, shops and places of work are easily and safely accessible.
Currently, however, we do not have enough cycle paths or segregated lanes and the vulnerability of those who walk and ride bikes is not understood or fully considered by those driving motor vehicles. A culture of road share needs to be developed but this will take time.
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If you step onto the road in France, especially in smaller towns, cars will stop to let you cross safely. Similarly, motorists give cyclists plenty of room when passing. We need to have a legislative system similar to theirs whereby the vulnerable are protected in civil law. We need presumed liability so that in the event of a road traffic collision between a cyclist or pedestrian and a motor vehicle, the burden of proof would rest with the more powerful as opposed to the weak which is the situation currently.
This change in the law is just one of number of measures that would help but it can be implemented quickly and cheaply. Most importantly, it might just spark that change in attitude and sense of responsibility which is dearly needed.
Senior Solicitor at Cycle Law Scotland,
285 Bath Street, Glasgow