On your bike?

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SCOTTISH government plans to promote cycling and improve facilities have been welcomed by East Renfrewshire councillor Charlie Gilbert.

The Neilston, Uplawmoor and Newton Mearns North representative is inviting residents to have their say on what improvements are needed in the local area to encourage more people onto their bikes.

The drive follows a Holyrood pledge to ensure that 10 per cent of journeys are made by bicycle by 2020 – recent figures show a figure of one to two per cent.

Councillor Gilbert told The Extra: “The transport minister is consulting on delivering better cycling facilities and prompting cycling for everyday travel to a wider audience. Every day I see cyclists on our roads throughout East Renfrewshire, and as a member of the Scottish Accident Prevention Council I would welcome comments from cyclists on how roads and facilities can be improved and developed to benefit cyclists.”

Transport minister Keith Brown has made plans to visit the Netherlands for advice, as Amsterdam reaches cycling rates of 60 per cent.

But, according to cycle campaigners, the first step towards achieving the target is increasing investment in bike routes and facilities – with some campaigners calling for five per cent of the transport budget.

Mr Brown has made no promise for a dedicated five per cent, commenti ng that the government focus should be on roads projects – in particular, motorways between each city. However, an announcement in January that £3.9 million of an additional £21 million transport investment would be used to enhance the cycling – including £400,000 spent on cycle parking at schools.

A quick poll of The Extra’s Facebook followers shows that many residents have no confidence in the state of both East Renfrewshire and Glasgow’s roads.

Steffi Keir commented: “It’s daunting to share cycling lanes with buses and taxis. Also, it would help to educate drivers that cyclists are not a nuisance but take care – and that they are responsible for keeping cyclists safe.

“I used to cycle everywhere but really don’t think it’s safe with a child on the bike – there are too many car drivers who drive dangerously.”

Harold Lawson believes the onus should be on cyclists, commenting: “First of all, stop cycling on pavements and running red lights, then start paying road tax and using identity plates – then you can criticise motorists who also have to put up with the disgusting condition of our roads”.

Although Joolz Arbuckle Harold countered: “Vehicle excise duty is for your motor vehicle and is based on emissions, which bicycles don’t produce.”

n What do you think? Share your thoughts for next week’s letters page by emailing gillian.loney@jpress.co.uk.