Thousands gather to Pedal on Parliament

Press release Sunday 19th May

Crowd assembling at the Meadows

The crowd assembling at the Meadows. ©Ros Gasson, Photography Scotland

Undeterred by a foggy start, thousands of cyclists gathered in Edinburgh today from across Scotland today to take one simple message to the Scottish government: “we are everyone”.  People on every sort of bike – and none – started gathering in the Meadows in Edinburgh at 2pm to call for safer cycling, with some cycling from Aberdeen and Glasgow as well as joining feeder rides from all around Edinburgh. Many had dressed up for the occasion, with quite a few pandas on bikes among the colourful throng. At 3pm, after a minute’s silence – rendered additionally poignant by the death of a young man killed on his bike near Inverness on Thursday – a joyful peal of bicycle bells announced the start of the ride and the protest made its way to Holyrood through the heart of Edinburgh and down the Royal Mile. World champion cyclist Graeme Obree recorded what was probably his slowest bike ride ever as he led out the ride alongside the families of Andrew McNicoll and Audrey Fyfe, both killed on Edinburgh’s roads in recent years. At Holyrood, Minister for Environment and Climate Change Paul Wheelhouse received the grassroots campaign’s eight-point manifesto calling for more investment in cycling, slower speeds, and better facilities for cyclists on Scotland’s roads.

Speaking to the crowd, estimated at 4000 strong, organiser David Brennan said

“We aren’t ‘cyclists’, we’re everyone – from the mum taking her children to nursery to the road cyclist doing 100k at the weekend. But we’re also the kids in the back of the car looking wistfully out of the window because their parents can’t risk them riding to school, the people who drive to the gym to ride on stationary bikes because the roads are too fast and busy. There’s a real hunger out there for conditions where everyone can ride, from 8 to 80 and we’re calling on the Scottish government to make the investment to make that a reality. We need a step change in funding.”

Lynne McNicoll said

“there’s so many people here, but there’s one face in this crowd we’re not seeing who would have been here, and that’s my step son, Andrew. We can’t change that but we can make a difference and thank you all for coming along and making that change”

Graeme Obree said

“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 free. 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 – if you can spend £800 million in one city on a tram then you can find £100 million for cycling.”

Minister for climate change and the Environment, Paul Wheelhouse said

“Active travel is an important part of Scotland’s climate change reduction targets. The Scottish government are committed to making cycling easier and have funded a mutual respect campaign for all road users and are refreshing the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland. We are meeting regularly with MSPs and councils. We would encourage community groups and schools to apply for funds to promote cycling.”

He reiterated the commitment of the government to see 10% of journeys by bike by 2020.

There were speeches from MSP Sarah Boyack (Labour), who said “it’s not that there’s nothing happening – but there’s not enough…. We need to convince councillors across the country to do more and see sustained year on year investment so that people can cycle whatever their age.”  Alison Johnstone (Green) said “This is not a political issue but pure common sense. We need 8 to 80 cycling for everyone. The time has come to invest in the kind of Scotland we want to see. £100 million is not enough because the benefits are immense. What are we waiting for?” Councillor Cameron Rose (Conservative) said, “I have cycled for the last 50 years because it’s cheap, fast and keeps me healthy. I’m here because I want more cycling in Edinburgh

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