Pedal on Parliament 2014

I was a bit worried when I saw the weather on friday (tipping it down most of the day and most of the night too) – thinking that might reduce numbers of cyclists coming to support the third Pedal on Parliament.

As is the case with most worries, it was unfounded.  Such is their desire for safer cycling they would have come even if it had been raining.  But it stayed dry for us the whole day.

Ian and I were walking this year – a variety of reasons including my lack of strength in my right hand since breaking my wrist in early January.  Our good friends at Callprint Edinburgh laminated a fantastic sign for us ‘Pedestrian on Parliament’.  I felt like a real activist then!

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We led a 20 strong group of walkers supporting PoP and walked down the Royal Mile with pride – and thousands of cyclists cycling past us. Cheerily waving at us, chatting, ringing bells – this has got to be one of the friendliest demonstrations ever!

Walking with us were Cllr Lesley Hinds, City of Edinburgh Council and Marco Biagi, MSP – so we had a chance to chat with them on the way down as well as friends Corinne and Natalia.

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We have always had children cycling with us but it was more striking this year – their numbers had definitely increased and it was so lovely to see.

The PoP organisers had asked a few of the children to speak and they did so first – I said in my speech that none of the rest of us were needed after they spoke and I meant it.  They were superb, Daniel, Kyle and Catherine were very eloquent and confident children and we owe it to them and to all of our children to do better and make it safe for them to get on their bikes and cycle anywhere.

I spoke too – I thought that when I did so at the first Pedal on Parliament I was expressing our sorrow at losing Andrew and that at some point in the future that sorrow would ease.  It doesn’t.  You learn to live with the pain but it is there every single moment of every single day and speaking to others in a similar situation they are the same.  That sorrow is not helped by a justice system that is flawed but more on that later. I mention it now because it reinforces my desire for others not to go through this experience.

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it was so good to see politicians in some numbers with us.

I asked the crowd and I ask you too now – if your politician was there, thank them and if they weren’t there please do write to them and tell them what we want.

No more cyclist deaths.

Better infrastructure.

Presumed liability

for anyone of any age to cycle safely

One day soon I will give you some thoughts on infrastructure and presumed liability but there is enough in here for today!

Today is about celebrating the success of PoP14 and the fact that the Scottish Government is listening to us, that the City of Edinburgh Council is doing more than any other council in Scotland

We can’t rest on our laurels – so please Find Your MSP or Find Your Councillor and write to them. The Pedal on Parliament manifesto is here. Information about presumed liability is here and you can sign their petition here.

We both send congratulations to the entire PoP team for their hard work and great organisation – and to every single person who came along – it was so lovely to speak with some of you and keep up the pressure.

The atmosphere was positive, friendly and supportive – and here is another request to you – if you came along please tell your friends, family and colleagues how good it was and encourage them to come next year. If you didn’t come, take a look at the photos and know you missed being part of something very special.

My personal thanks to Chris Hill for allowing me to use his photos – all are his bar a couple taken by my husband on his mobile phone – so you will see the difference in quality!

Good press coverage too!

Edinburgh evening news

Scotland on Sunday

STV

BBC

Edinburgh Reporter

The Sunday Post

 

 

Why I support PoP

Why I support PoP

 

My reasons for supporting PoP are sadder than some of the others – we lost my stepson Andrew on 5 January 2012 when he was involved in a road traffic collision with a 55ft long articulated lorry in Edinburgh.

Andrew was an experienced and competent cyclist.

And he isn’t here anymore.

I want to see better infrastructure, safer speed limits, presumed liability and other ways to reduce the risk to cyclists particularly from HGV’s.

I want it safe for you, your children and your children’s children to cycle anywhere. I want the scared cyclists feeling confident and safe (counting myself in that category).

More than anything I do not want anyone else to go through the shock and horror that we endured that day in January 2012 and the everlasting pain we now feel on a daily basis.

 

The crocuses

I took my mum and dad to see the crocuses – was first time they had seen them and we haven’t been ourselves for nearly 2 weeks.

Even more have come out and they look stunning.

My dad, in particular, thought they were a very fitting tribute.

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press article

Photo of article in today’s evening news

It’s a good article – I just want to correct the description as Andrew’s parents.
- I have always been most particular that we are Andrew’s dad and stepmum.

Andrew was very much loved stepson and I have lovely memories of signs of love and affection from daft email signatures (his to me was Lola and mine back was Loll as in lots of love Andrew or lots of love Lynnie), he was one of the few people to call me Lynnie and I have beautiful Mother’s Day cards from him but he had his mum and their relationship was very special.

His parents both miss him beyond measure but it is Ian and I who are in the public eye campaigning so it is that we get the press requests for statements.

His mum and sister were just with us today for lunch sharing our thoughts on the case and I asked her about me saying this and she is happy that I do so. (I have been careful to only talk about only Ian and my thoughts over past couple of years to preserve his mum and sister’s privacy)

We were all a bit upset by a press release issued, not yet sure who by, that had put Andrew’s name where Mr Stewart’s should have been but I also have to say that, once asked, both the BBC and Evening News websites immediately changed the error (which was not their error). IMG_3052

 

Court case

The past four days have been fairly traumatic for our family. Spending four days in the Sheriff court house listening to different memories of the 5 January 2012, the day Andrew died.

An experienced and skilled cyclist and one of life’s top blokes he died cycling to work that day.

Our disappointment today in the Not Proven verdict is huge but we love our country, it has this system and so have to live with it.  I’m not going to say much about the case itself as civil cases are being considered.

I will say this – we’re not moaners – if we don’t like something and think it needs changed we will try to do something to change it or help change it. Moaning (and plenty folk do it – expecting ‘others’ to do the changing for them) is a waste of energy – we are going to put our energies into working with Brenda Mitchell of Cycle Law and Roadshare to get stricter liability in Scotland – protecting the more vulnerable road user.

We are also happy to work with Pedal on Parliament team to campaign for safer cycling.  Ok, it’s not going to happen overnight – it’s going to take years but we will get there in the end.

Obviously we’re not doing it FOR Andrew but we are doing it because of Andrew and for all the people who have approached me in the two years since his death saying they’d love to cycle but are too scared to.  (which now includes me – no way am I going to cycle on the roads.)

So come on, get involved with something you care about and want to change – maybe it’s a small thing or maybe like us, it’s huge. Let’s stop leaving things to ‘others’ to change/improve -let’s be part of the change.

If you are interested in the cycling campaigns we support visit Roadshare, sign their online petition here

and Pedal on Parliament

Join us on 26 april when we cycle to parliament (or in my case, walk to parliament!)

and thank you all very much for the messages of support we have received. They have helped us enormously.

 

Supporting Bridge8Hub

We’d much rather he was here to celebrate his birthday with us but he is not.

However, it seems a fitting birthday tribute to Andrew to announce  that we are supporting a quite remarkable man, Sean Barry and his inspiring project Bridge8Hub.

Rather than tell you about Bridge8Hub I would prefer it if you check out their website and consider supporting them.

Through your work perhaps – I get many offers of volunteer days and can’t use them but I am sure Sean could. He would also welcome any schools supporting him through the YPI initiative.

We will keep you updated on what our donation will be spent on but what I can say  is this:

Andrew would have loved this project- all of it but especially the mountain bike training course!

We wish Sean and his team all the best and will continue to help him where we can.

Ian meeting with Sean Barry

Ian meeting with Sean Barry of Bridge8Hub

Andrew

As we approach the trial of the lorry driver charged with causing Andrew’s death by careless driving I’d like  to tell you a little  bit about Andrew.
He was quite a character.
As a little boy he loved to make models. Indeed got in the local paper for winning a competition at John Menzies once.
He loved his dog, Meg. She was a border collie and needed her walks which he diligently did. They were good pals for each other.
He loved cycling both mountain and road cycling. He had bikes for both activities and enough Cycle kit to start a shop. (I kid you not)  While his flat was always tidy I am sure that the bikes and his beloved car ( a Subaru ) were washed and polished far more often than the flat was! He was a member of online groups for the car, such was his enthusiasm.
Watching the six nations rugby at the weekend made us talk about Andrew. He would have been at the games and in the pub after making new friends, wearing his kilt with pride. Oh how he loved wearing his kilt. He looked fabulous in it, usually wearing it with a rugby top or a casual top. He took it with him when he went on an extended tour round the world. I think he used it as a chat up line!
We’ve had his kilt cleaned and our oldest grandson Sam wears it with pride. He’s not quite got Andrew’s build yet but given time I think he will. Made us all shed tears when Sam wore it to his prom. (another family event missing Andrew)
Andrew loved the rugby probably his favourite game was Scotland v Wales. Went to Wales a couple of times.
Like his parents and sister, he loved life, he loved laughing – he liked kids – my niece and friends have fond memories of him at family events -always happy to be the one joining in their games and he loved being with his nephews too.

Andrew’s birthday is tomorrow – 11 March. Our third birthday without him. Imagine having to wait this long for a trial.  Tomorrow We will go  to check on the crocusses on the Lanark Road to see if more are up. Buying him gifts was always hard but I’d far rather be agonising over what to buy him than have the pain we feel this week.

Next stage

Today was second pre-trial  hearing day.

You might remember I went to the first pre-trial hearing in October last year and the defence asked for more time and, astonishingly, got it.  Five more months of it!

The treatment victims and their families get is something for this country to be ashamed of. Never mind their suffering, the lawyers need more time. ( IMO time is money, longer it takes more money they get)

On the one hand I am glad we are now moving to trial having an actual date (or at least a week beginning date).

On the other I am dismayed and angry (it’s showing isn’t it??) at the waste of time and money I have witnessed on my two short visits to the Sheriff Court.

And I am really angry, and there is going to be a conversation with the Justice Minister about all of this, but I am angry that I raised the issue of sound after the first pre-trial hearing. Looks like good sound system and mics in the court room and the lawyers mumble away to the Judge and you have to strain to hear anything at all. It is a joke. As the public are entitled to attend it would be reasonable to assume that they should also be able to hear what is being said!

Anyway I am off to write up notes for my correspondence with Kenny MacAskill!

I am glad I went to Court on both occasions as feel that we are doing all we can to represent Andrew and I am very glad our friend Janette came with me as it’s a daunting place.

Spring 2014

I realise I  haven’t written here often this year. Partly because I broke my wrist a few days after the anniversary of Andrew’s death and that accident has made life a wee bit trickier!

In the next month we anticipate that  the court case against the lorry driver charged with causing Andrew’s death will finally happen. I do think that the Scottish Justice Minister  and the crown Prosecution Service should hang their heads in shame at the disgraceful way that victims and their  families are  treated – but that is a subject I will pursue further after the case. I am ashamed of the system in as far as we are concerned and having spoken with others in similar circumstances we aren’t alone.

Please think of us on 4 March (pre-trial hearing) and the week of 17 March.  We know we need to dig deep to find the strength to get us through March.

Looking further ahead (which I admit is  hard for us to do at the moment) I have a date for your diary

Saturday 26 April – Pedal on Parliament 2014

noon at the Meadows

I will be walking and that is a good thing as I can recruit folk to walk with me – folk who support safer cycling for themselves, their families and friends but who don’t feel able to cycle on this day.

So, please spread the word far and wide and let us make this the biggest PoP ever- let us show the Scottish Govt we aren’t going away till we get better facilities.

Here’s a screenshot of my guest blog post on the Pedal on Parliament website

 

 

Hold onto the love, not the loss

It’s going to happen every year so we are really going to have to get used to it but it is only our 2nd anniversary of Andrew’s death and coming so soon after our first big family Christmas gathering without him it has been a tough day.

Yesterday I was in the garden and noticed this flower – I couldn’t believe it – two rosebuds still looking amazing. Indeed they must have been growing over past few weeks to look like this.   So it seemed right to cut the stem and take it with us this morning as we visited the site of the incident  that 2 years ago today took Andrew’s life.  We were able to tuck it into longish grass under a group of trees so it isn’t very obvious and might actually last a while as it’s tucked into the earth.

As we approached Lanark Road (we had walked through Craiglockhart Dell and came along Dovecot Park) we saw two cyclists cycling past the spot – it seemed an amazing and symbolic coincidence to happen at that exact moment.

One of the ways we cope (and don’t for a minute think we always do because we have our moments) is to be practical – to see what we can do to ensure that Andrew gets a fair crack at the whip in that courtroom in the spring – I’ve said it before about it not being a level playing field (read my post on the first court session I attended) – so we took photos of  the road – we were there at the same time as the incident and the weather was similar.  We stayed there a while and then walked home.

Something else we have done these past few days is sort all our photos – gracious we had loads to sort and it’s been really nice to go through them.

So today we looked through some of Andrew and shared memories that were evoked by doing so.

We had been given a beautiful album for our silver wedding five years ago and never had the time to add in photos and cards. I sorted that the other day and love the card we found in the bundle waiting to be added.  It is so Andrew. It really is.

 

We’ll continue to fight hard on his behalf for justice and to ensure he is remembered as a person not just ‘the deceased’. Scottish courts take note….

 

I like my quotes and found this one today

‘Hold onto the love, not the loss’