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Mark Beaumont backs campaign to make roads safer for Scotland's schoolkid cyclists

Round-the-world cyclists urges Scottish drivers to give children more space

Record-breaking round-the-world cyclist Mark Beaumont has given his backing to an initiative designed to get drivers to give Scottish children the space they need to cycle to school in safety, yesterday helping to launch the Give Me Cycle Space campaign at St Mark’s School, Barrhead, East Renfrewshire.

"Campaigns like this are essential because you have to understand that a lot of road users aren't cyclists so they're just not aware of what they need to do on the road to act differently around a bicycle as opposed to a car,” explained Beaumont, quoted on STV.

That was especially the case when the cyclist was a child, he continued, “because they are just learning to use their bikes and going through their cycling proficiency, so doing their first miles to and from school is absolutely perfect to get experience.”

The six-week campaign, co-ordinated by Cycle Scotland, coincides with the annual upsurge in the number of pupils using their bicycles to get to and from school thanks to warmer and drier spring weather and longer hours of daylight.

It is focused on seven areas across Scotland - Glasgow, Inverclyde, Aberdeenshire, Argyll and Bute, Moray, Perth and Kinross, and East Renfrewshire, with schools in each area being visited by stunt cycling team, The Riderz, Scotland's stunt cycling team.

At yesterday’s launch, six primary school pupils joined Beaumont, holding banners saying “Give us at least 1.5 metres" and "We want to cycle to school".

"We're trying to highlight the opportunity to stay healthy, get active and stay safe on the roads,” Beaumont went on.
"I think it's massively important, I'm really passionate about this - I grew up in Scotland cycling from an early age and it's something that I've grown to love.

"I know how important it is to stay healthy and I know how much of a social activity it is as well.
But you can only do that if the roads are safe and other road users give children plenty of space, it gives them more confidence and just looks after them.

"To get to school safely the kids need to have other road users giving them plenty of room on the roads, making sure they have confidence to cycle with their friends and families," he concluded.

Ian Aitken, chief executive of Cycling Scotland, commented: "The Give Me Cycle Space campaign achieved incredible results last year, contributing to huge increases in the number of children cycling in the schools we targeted.

"In some areas we saw levels of cycling to school double, for example in Orkney the percentage of kids riding their bikes to school rocketed from 9% to 18%.

"I think the mixture of strong communication to drivers, supported by children getting their Bikeability Scotland training, really gives parents the confidence to let their kids start using their bikes to get to school," he added.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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WolfieSmith | 13 years ago

Education is a good idea - a new look at speed limits and fines is another. I'm fully supportive of awareness campaigns such as Saveacyclist but that particular phrase comes across as a desperate plea rather than common sense instruction. I've been considering bring a real srlf righteous b**stard and getting a phrase stencilled on my plain gilet. I favour 'Share the Road' or 'What's your hurry?' or even 'Calm down dear'. Any thoughts?
Most of us drive cars and I'm sure we're all guilty of creeping above 35mph in a 30mph zone ( sadly not on a bike anymore..) but when we see a cyclist we slow down and give them time and room. It's trying to educate everyone else to do the same before we start 'critical mass' School runs that is the next task.

WolfieSmith | 13 years ago

Running red light comments again.... Ho hum. There are far more poor drivers than cyclists in the UK and complaining about cycling behaviour with little redress to motorists isn't helpful. As I've said ad nauseum on this site - speed reduces safe reaction time and needs to be addressed - it just for cyclists but fellow motorists and pedestrians. Even reducing suburban speed to 25mph will help everyone.

The disregard for the 30m speed limit has become critical in the past 10 years and it's the elephant in the room whenever cars versus bikes and safety is discussed. I saw a friend of my son trying to make a right turn on a quiet suburban st this morning and I had to frantically wave at cars in both directions who were both topping 40mph. Both drivers glared at me as if I was mad as they shot past the kid on the centre line on a narrow road.

Maybe I'm naive but to me it isn't right to have to try to teach an 11 year old to ride aggressively to 'own' the road against 2 adults breaking the law - who upon hitting the child would check damage to their cars first and then probably pretend the cyclist was 'all over the
road'. Sloooooow down. If you're worried about being late - leave earlier.

Michael5 | 13 years ago

And we all need to be more careful. Been to London today and the attitude of cyclists in general is dreadful. Jumping red lights, wrong way down a one way street, riding on pavements... if you want to be treated with respect by other road users, start by respecting the rules of the road - they aren't just an inconvenience.

Felix replied to Michael5 | 13 years ago

Couldn't agree more. I demand the respect of other road users, I obey the rules and ride assertively, refusing to get pushed into the gutter. (have been knocked off though... Where I stay (just outside Glasgow) many adults ride on the pavement with helmets perched ineffectively on the back of their heads. There are peek-a-boo cycle tracks full of stones, uneven and loose drains and dog shit. But you still get tooted for not using them! We (as a nation) have a long way to go. This campaign may do some good at least it keeps the issues in the public view.
Pedestrians still shout 'think bike' at drivers when they cut cyclists up... or is that just me?  39

Jack Osbourne snr replied to Felix | 13 years ago

Sadly Felix, the shout of "Think Bike" is just you!

I regularly cycle through the city centre of Glasgow on my daily commute, and have frequently bailed out due to the bus or taxi sandwich getting too tight for comfort.

A cyclist advocating greater consideration for cyclists isn't going to persuade Mr Cabby or Freddy First-Bus that the small patch of road I'm occupying isn't actually their personal property.

As already mentioned, improved infrastructure and better thought out cycle lanes would help.

I would like to see some cabs and buses with full-body adverts for consideration to cyclists. Something like "A cyclist is NOT a target"

mad_scot_rider | 13 years ago

I appreciate your frustration don_don - but in my view it's *ALL* part of the puzzle.

In this country with its' firmly embedded infrastructure and long history of giving motorists whatever their precious little hearts' desire, I doubt we are going to see a mass campaign of roads, roundabout and junctions being ripped up to make them more pedestrian & cycle friendly.

We are also never going to see off-road infrastructure available to all end-points.

The other point of course is that road policing in this country is pretty much restricted to fining speeders and working out *after* an accident if someone should be charged.

So while I know this campaign is of limited value I suspect we have to keep on with this sort of thing just to remind the other road users that we're here, we belong here and we're not going away.

arowland replied to mad_scot_rider | 13 years ago

Despite the minority of 'couldn't care less' drivers, there is still a sizeable number who don't intend to drive thoughtlessly but just aren't aware of the needs cyclists have. Maybe that number is growing, as fewer and fewer children are given the chance to cycle, so people start driving with less road experience and no personal experience of cycling. But this is a group who are open to education, if it is presented in a non-condemnatory and positive way.

Don't let the few idiots/bastards stop us trying!

a.jumper | 13 years ago

There will always be at least some big vehicles, so I think it's worthwhile even if there might be better steps that should also be taken.

Bravo Scotland! Nothing similar nationwide in England, is there?

don_don | 13 years ago

I posted this on the Singletrack website and I don't think's (slightly different) coverage changes my opinion:

All very worthy, but (and sorry to be cynical) I suspect all completely pointless.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen campaigners try to ask drivers to ‘be a bit nicer please’ and the results are predictably dire. Remember the ’3 Feet Please’ campaign? Cycling Scotland appear to be doing nothing more than trying to convince kids and parents that their fear of traffic is all in the mind. This is the basic tenet of most cycle campaining (a la CTC etc) and it is a demonstrable failure.

If we want to make cycling to school safer, money needs to be spent making safe infrastructure and reducing the speed and number of cars on the roads. Anything else is just hot-air.

As for figures on Orkney ‘rocketing’ to a miserable 18%, just how many cars are there on the island of Orkney, compared to the rest of the country? Can this island really be compared to, say Aberdeen or Edinburgh, where the number of school pupils presumably numbers in the thousands?

I’m sure Mark Beaumont means well, but if he really wants to make a difference, perhaps he should be campaigning for real ‘concrete’ changes to Scotland’s roads, rather than this nice, fluffy, but ultimately futile (and I’ll bet my Singletrack subsription that it is futile) poster campaign.

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