The Sunday Post (Newcastle)

Championsh­ips’ legacy may mend the relationsh­ip with cyclists


When it comes to cycling, Scotland has something of a love/hate relationsh­ip.

The vast majority of people have access to a bike, and many talk warmly about cycling.

According to a recent survey carried out by Sustrans, 21% of people in Scotland cycle at least once a week.

However, the results reveal a gender divide.

Men are more than twice as likely (29%) than women (13%) to cycle at least once a week, while fewer women think cycling safety is good (39%) compared to men (45%).

The reasons for this are not explained, but it is perhaps something to do with the at times fraught relationsh­ip shared by cyclists and drivers.

One does not have to be a particular­ly heavy road user to notice examples of angry exchanges between those on two wheels and four.

Some drivers argue they pay taxes and should therefore enjoy every priority on the carriagewa­ys.

Meanwhile, some cyclists do not seem to believe the rules of the road, or indeed the Highway Code, apply to them and so treat the likes of red lights with disdain.

Envious eyes are cast to the continent

Of course, the truth is the vast majority of both parties obey the law and treat each other with respect.

And that is what it really comes down to. Respecting other travellers, regardless of their mode of transport.

Cycling Scotland recently moved to dispel the animosity between groups of road users by utilising the terms “people cycling” and “people driving”. It is an attempt to humanise each group.

The debate is pertinent as Scotland plays host to the UCI Cycling World Championsh­ips.

The event is undeniably on a hugely impressive scale, with the number of competitor­s dwarfing even those taking part in the Commonweal­th Games.

That Scotland should play host to such an extravagan­za inevitably provokes questions around legacy – and around our relationsh­ip with cycling.

Those involved with the event hope it will open the eyes of Scots to the joy of cycling, be it for leisure or as an environmen­tallyfrien­dly means to commute.

But will it really change the nature of the relationsh­ip between cyclist and driver?

Or does that require far deeper, infrastruc­ture changes?

Envious eyes are often cast to the continent or Scandinavi­a, where cycling is far more prevalent.

But, such transforma­tional change did not happen overnight.

It takes hard work and commitment from those in the corridors of power.

So the first question we really need to ask ourselves this week is not will there be a legacy, rather what do we want that legacy to be?

If we really want to increase the number of journeys taken on two wheels we have to make cycling a far more enjoyable, and safe, pastime. For drivers and bikers alike.

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