In February 2012, up to 2000 cyclists gathered in London to cycle on the Westminster Parliament in support of safer cycling and cities fit for people. On April 28th 2012, to coincide with a follow-up ride in London, Pedal on Parliament gathered cyclists from across the nation to cycle on Holyrood. We asked everyone who cycles in Scotland – or who would like to cycle, or would like their families to cycle, but who didn’t feel safe – to join us for a big ride of our own – and a big picnic. Young and old, keen commuter or weekend pedaller, fit or not – they didn’t even need to be on a bike.They all showed up to add their voice to make Scotland a more cycle-friendly nation. The politicians didn’t listen so in 2013 we did it all again, and this time secured a small short term increase in funding. So this year we’re doing it again…
We aren’t ‘cyclists’ – we’re everyone
4000 turn out for Pedal on Parliament in 2013
In 2012 3,000 people, young and old, pedalled on the Scottish Parliament to call for safer cycling for everyone. Despite plenty of warm words from politicians since then, nothing fundamental has changed so we did it again. And this time even more came out to show their support for a cycle-friendly Scotland - 4,000 of them, on road bikes, trikes, balance bikes, hand cycles and even on foot.
As last year, the day was marked by sombre moments – a minute’s silence for those who had died on the roads on their bikes – and also joyful ones – a mass ringing of bells by thousands of cyclists. Then there were comedic ones. There was good-natured bike queue of thousands to get out of the Meadows and onto the road. It is a measure of the success of the ride that 40 minutes after the ride started, there were still people leaving the meadows to set off – with the first already at Holyrood. The ride was led off by cycling legend Graham Obree, and the families of Andrew McNicoll and also the family of Audrey Fyfe, who was killed on the roads this year.
“I come here to enlighten our politicians that we’re not asking for spending here, but an investment, where young people can cycle freely and without fear. We want a network from our homes to our workplaces, our shops, and schools and everywhere we want to go. It’s an investment in the health of the nation.” - Graeme Obree
2012: Thousands pedalled on Holyrood!
April 28th 2012: Over 3,000 gathered at the Meadows for the biggest cycle protest ever seen in Scotland!
Cyclists as far as the eye can see – just a ‘wee protest’ then? Led out by Ian McNicoll and Mark Beaumont. (Credit: Photo © Richard Cross)
Pedal on Parliament 2012 took place on Saturday 28th April in a day that combined sombre moments with an air of celebration. After a minute’s silence, observed by the crowd of more than 3,000 strong according to Lothian and Borders Police, a mass ringing of bike bells, horns and cheers marked the start of the ride from the Meadows to Holyrood. The ride passed without incident, with the police closing a number of junctions temporarily to keep the ride together in a safe manner. The ride was notable for the large number of families and children among the throng, including kids on balance bikes, with stabilisers, in child seats, tagalongs and pedalling under their own steam.
We think there may have been a lot more than 2,500 cyclists there but we are happy with the police estimate of 2,500 – 3,000.What we know is that cyclists en masse took up the whole of both George IV Bridge and High Street – as far as the eye could see.
Once at Holyrood the petition was presented to MSPs Jim Eadie for the SNP, Sarah Boyack for Labour, and Alison Johnstone for the Greens, as well as Councillor Gordon McKenzie for the Lib Dems in front of the assembled mass of cyclists. Also addressing the crowd were Lynne McNicoll, whose stepson was killed on Edinburgh’s roads earlier this year, prompting her to set up the Andrew Cyclist Foundation with her husband; and Mark Beaumont, the round the world cyclist and adventurer who rode the route with a handmade banner calling for a Cycle Friendly Scotland.
Participants decorated their bikes, and themselves, for the fun event, which saw children paddling and swimming in the pools afterwards at Holyrood, as the spring sunshine seemed to make an appearance especially for the ride.
The event proved exceeded the wildest expectations of the organisers, and Dave Brennan, part of the grass roots Pedal on Parliament campaign said:
Originally we’d hoped that 300 cyclists might show up – in the end, ten times that number cared enough to come out on the day. We’re overwhelmed by the response and it just shows the depth of feeling there is in this country, especially among families. There is clearly still a long way to go but today has shown our politicians that Scots want Scotland to be a cycle-friendly nation. Now it’s up to them to act on the proposals we’ve set out in our manifesto.
You can see more than a 1000 pictures of the day on our Pedal on Parliament Flickr pool