20mph limits in towns

As someone who walks and cycles a lot, I support plans for more widespread implementation of 20mph zones in our towns and cities. These should primarily be a place for people, and not dominated by motor vehicles. Illustration of reduction in survival rate for pedestrians/cyclists hit by motor vehicles at increasing speed

Pedal on Parliament recently put together a piece to mark World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, which I volunteered a graphic to illustrate. I am delighted to say this was widely re-shared on social media, but that is not the point of this post.

These depressing statistics illustrate that there is an increasing likelihood of serious injury or death for pedestrians and cyclists who are unfortunate enough to be hit by fast moving vehicles. In addition to (hopefully rare) crashes, it is also rather unpleasant to have vehicles constantly speeding past you when on a bike, on foot, and presumably when in a wheelchair.

Do we really need so many cars, vans, and lorries thundering through town centres? Especially when these are then parked (either legally or illegally) on narrow roads blocking access for bikes, pedestrians, wheelchairs, pushchairs, etc.

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Long nights and bright days

One thing about the long dark winter nights that we get in higher latitudes, is that they rally make you appreciate the bright sunny days. Most of the past few weekends have had periods of brilliant sunshine (even if it was cold) in which I have been out on my bike.

Panorama looking south over the Gore Water, towards Borthwick and Middleton
Panorama looking south over the Gore Water, towards Borthwick and Middleton

There is something almost magical when you are speeding along on your bicycle without too much effort, especially on a bright sunny day. And that enjoyment is definitely increased when you don’t have to worry about motor vehicles speeding past or crashing into you. We are lucky to have quite a few great off-road cycle tracks around Edinburgh, mainly along old railway lines. The problem is, to connect them up, you often end up on pretty horrible fast roads, which are unpleasant to cycle on at the best of times, and downright scary at the worst.

Best not to dwell on that for now, and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts.