25 October 2013

I think I've become a #militantpedestrian...

I suppose it was inevitable, that in a week when Scotland's dire record of pedestrian safety was splashed across the media, when I can't ride a bike, and am (briefly) in solo parentis, that I too would turn into a #militantpedestrian.

There's a certain irony in that I am unable to cycle because of a broken finger caused by sudden braking to avoid an #obliviouspedestrian.  But I'm trying hard not to let that prejudice me against all pedestrians....

To be fair, being a pedestrian in Edinburgh comes with  some benefits.  It has been pure joy to walk the kids home from nursery along quiet leafy streets and watch them run and chase each other giggling hysterically  through great heaps of leaves.

And I now know that all the other parents from school hang out in the windows of coffee shops in most improbable combinations....

But I've also had too many cars fail to indicate as they turn off onto quiet side-streets, perform unpredictable u-turns at the entrance to dead-end streets despite a toddler on a balancebike tootling across, and simply steam along narrow dragstrips bordered by stone walls which funnel the noise and smells like canyons.

Cyclists may be hated, but I've never felt so insignificant and irrelevant as when I've been walking along our streets.

It's reassuring - and a small positive step - to have heard today that when pelican crossings are turned off by roadworks lasting longer than a week temporary crossings will be provided, But how do we make our streets more pleasant -- not to mention safer - every day?

08 October 2013

6 y.o. on a bike V. angry mum

I've written before about the last 10 yards of the school run being the part that puts me (and others) off letting my kids cycle to school.  Today it was just the last yard.

We were nice and early, so it should have been quiet. Then, right in front of the school gate, as my 6 y.o. was about to turn in, a mum pulls up, on the wrong side of the road, so that she can drop her darling straight in front of the gate.  Car coming behind her stops, thinking we'll want to go around her, but of course we don't.  Nice of him though.  It did mean that for a few minutes traffic was at a total standstill in all directions.

I give her the 'universal shrug of bafflement' at which point I can see her shouting at me from inside the car. Then she gets out and shouts at me a bit more. Apparently, 'the road is for everyone'. And *I* wasn't sharing.

Considering that she was on the wrong side of the road, I find that hard to comprehend.  But at the same time, I can see why she felt she could do this -- there are no road markings at all suggesting that this might be an inappropriate thing to do. The gates in the picture above were open, so the 'no parking' signs were not obvious (and anyway, she wasn't parking, she was 'dropping').

Last year, after I complained, the school put some colourful banners encouraging parents to 'park somewhere else' but they're further along the railings. We really need to rethink our road markings and the messages we send parents.

But at the same time, how did we end up in a society where a parent thinks that it is appropriate to put her car, engine running straight in the path of a six y.o. on a bike about to pull into her school gate?