Our sixth annual Pedal on Parliament took to the streets of Inverness, Aberdeen and Edinburgh today but there’s more to come! Read all about today’s events in our press release below – and join us in Glasgow Green at 1pm tomorrow to do it all again!
Three cities across Scotland rang to the sound of bike bells today as people took to the streets to demand better conditions for cycling. The sixth annual Pedal on Parliament went national this weekend with mass rides in Edinburgh, Inverness and Aberdeen. Another is due tomorrow in Glasgow where the minister of Transport, Humza Yousaf, will speak.
Despite cold spring weather, thousands flocked to the Meadows in Edinburgh, for what the police estimated was a record turnout, taking over the city’s historic heart as the riders wound down the Royal Mile to the Parliament buildings. Led out by the Talking Tandems, whose riders don’t let visual impairment keep them off two wheels, the grassroots protest attracted cyclists of all kinds, with many families, and even some marchers on foot.
Braving rain in Aberdeen, a hundred cyclists including many children rode out bringing a similar call for investment and safer roads to the council headquarters there.
Over 120 turned out for the first ever POP in Inverness – where showers fortunately kept the speeches short!
Speaking at Holyrood, Alison Johnstone for the Greens said, “If we invest properly in cycling we can cut congestion, and air pollution and tackle obesity and children can cycle to school. If you look at what happens in the Netherlands children have independence – and where people can cycle easily it benefits those on low incomes the most. This is not a niche activity, it benefits us all.
For the Liberal Democrats, Alex Cole-Hamilton said, “It is so important to have people here at parliament and council offices across the country”. Thanking his son Finn, who had cycled further today than he had ever cycled before, he said the most important thing was conditions to enable children like Finn and his siblings to cycle. “Edinburgh has two of the most polluted streets in the country in my consituency, and protests like this send a message to politicians that this has to be at the top of the political agenda. This should be a cross party issue, for Scotland in 2017 is still the sick man of Europe and we have to change that.”
For the SNP, Councillor Adam McVey said, “I agree with a lot of the previous speakers about the importance of investment that we need. I’m proud of what has been delivered in Edinburgh with the massive expansion in 20 mph limits, so that streets aren’t seen as just a ‘car paradise’ but a place where everyone feels safe. The SNP have committed to supporting the EW cycleway that will transform the west end of Edinburgh and will continue investing 10% of the transport budget in projects that will make a real difference. We stand handlebar to handlebar with the people here.”
For Labour, Daniel Johnson said, “This is a fantastic event that shows what kind of a city Edinburgh could be, with cyclists taking over the street over the cars. We have to reclaim streets for people and not for cars and that’s what the agenda should be. We’ve seen the focus on the damage that cars do – we give up way too much space to empty cars and should start to give over some of that space to cycle lanes, to people. It is good that the Scottish government has committed to 10% of journeys by bike but we need the investment to back that up, so that people can cycle.”
For the Tories, Gordon Lindhurst said, “Long before I was a politician I was a cyclist, getting on a bike from before I can even remember. In Scotland we still have some way to go, although we have some great new cycle routes. Keep going, keep cycling and we will get there.”
Rounding off, Mike Young of the Talking Tandems said, “tandems enable me to get out and experience Scotland despite being blind. We’re here today to remind people that cycling takes many different forms but getting out on a tandem or an adaptive bike takes extra thought, and things like chicanes can be a real barrier to non-standard bikes.” Louise McLeary also of the Talking Tandems, said “I’m also a blind cyclist and I cycle to keep fit – when I first started I could barely go a mile and now I can cycle 60-65 miles in a day and have even cycled in a velodrome. But I can’t just jump on a bike the way sighted cyclists can and we need more people to volunteer as pilots.”
Organiser David Brennan urged the crowd to “do the double” and also attend the first ever Pedal on Parliament in Glasgow tomorrow, saying, “In its sixth year we’ve seen POP become a truly national movement, united behind safer streets for all. I want my children to grow up in a truly cycle-friendly Scotland, and that’s why we’re taking our message right across the country.”
#POPWeekend gets off to a cracking start