Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

'Ghost bike' protest over cycle safety

Ghost bike at Holyrood
Image caption The ghost bikes feature a plaque with a tally of cyclist deaths in Scotland over the past five years

Two "ghost bikes" for fallen cyclists have been placed outside the Scottish Parliament by campaigners calling for investment into cycle safety measures.

Organisers said the bikes, which are completely painted white, represent the deaths of two cyclists last week.

A plaque also details the number of cyclists killed in Scotland since 2009.

The demonstration has come the same day as a female cyclist died following a collision with a car on a road near Drumnadrochit in the Highlands.

The accident happened on the A831 near the A833 junction at Milton at about 08:41.

Ghost bikes have been used across the world over the past 10 years to raise awareness of cycle safety - usually at the spot where a cyclist was killed.

Organisers of the memorial said the Scottish government had rejected calls to increase the amount spent on cycling infrastructure, including safe, separated cycle tracks, to £20 per head (£100m each year).

They also expressed disappointment that the 2010 Cycling Action Plan for Scotland had rejected calls for the implementation of strict liability laws in civil cases, whereby the driver involved in an incident would have to prove he or she was not at fault for an incident involving a cyclist.

Anecdotal evidence has suggested that this could lead to drivers having more respect for cyclists.

'Spontaneous reaction'

The number of cyclists killed on Scotland's roads rose from seven in 2011 to nine in 2012. Nine people have already died this year.

Ghost bike organiser Andy Arthur said the memorial was "a spontaneous reaction to the anger and hurt felt by cyclists" at the news of two more deaths - 79-year-old Douglas Brown and 14-year-old Connor Shields.

Mr Arthur said: "It is the political leadership in Holyrood who 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 some of our elected representatives to action, or else shame them for their inaction."

A Transport Scotland spokesman said an average of £3.80 per head was currently spent on cycling in Scotland - more than double the amount being spent in England, outside of London.

He said: "We are currently investing almost £58m on cycling infrastructure, training and road safety projects through Cycling Scotland, Sustrans and local authorities over this spending review.

"Funding of £20m goes directly to local authorities for cycling, walking and Safer Streets projects."

He added that there was no robust evidence to suggest strict liability improved safety.

Sara Dorman, of Pedal on Parliament, said: "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 into safer cycling.

"All they've suggested is an information campaign urging mutual respect, the sort of campaign which has failed over and over in the past."

Next month, the Scottish government plans to unveil details of a £424,000 "Mutual Respect" road safety campaign, to help change behaviour on Scotland's roads.

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