Thousands of people cycled and marched from the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street to the Scottish Parliament to deliver a message to politicians ahead of the local elections next month that it’s time to make Scotland a cycle-friendly country.
Police estimates said two thousand people of all ages gathered on Chambers Street, with some people cycling from as far afield as Dumfries and Glasgow and others travelling from Perth and even Birmingham. The protesters cycled and marched to the Scottish Parliament in safety on roads that were closed to motor vehicles. The key message that they sent to Scotland’s politicians ahead of this year’s council elections is that it’s Time To Deliver on their promises.
This year’s main organiser, and father of two, Alex Robertson, said:
“I have been involved with Pedal on Parliament for a few years now and have seen the immense amount of time and team effort it takes to organise this campaign. I stepped up to coordinate this 2022 ride as I felt it was important to send a message to our politicians before the next local elections. I ride with my kids and I want to feel safe with them cycling with me and for them to have the freedom to access our wonderful city when they’re able to cycle independently.”
Lorraine McIntosh, who spoke at the event on behalf of Infrasisters, a grassroots organisation wanting to see safe, well-lit, on-street infrastructure created in our cities said:
“The Infrasisters are campaigning for the safety of women and girls who face a choice between road violence or predatory violence whenever they ride their bikes, especially after dark, which in Scotland can be 4pm! 90% of women we surveyed have either been assaulted or threatened, or have a fear of this happening. Therefore, we’re asking for separate road space that is integrated and physically protected and national guidelines for road design that prioritises the safety of vulnerable road users”
Steve McCluskey from Bikes for Refugees, who have supplied 1700 bikes to refugees making their homes as “New Scots” in Scotland, read out quotes from refugees who had been given bikes by the charity. They talked about how helpful a bike is in moving around their cities, getting involved in their new communities, and keeping fit while living off their £5-a-day allowance.
Politicians from across the political spectrum were invited to speak at the Parliament. Edinburgh SNP Councillor Lesley Macinnes and Transport Convenor spoke about the ongoing plan in Edinburgh to have a clear strategy that will guide the council towards more impactful changes. She highlighted that while change often leads to dissenting voices, they usually disappear when the change is made, showing that we’re moving in the right direction.
Scottish Green Party Co-Leader and Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights, Patrick Harvie MSP, spoke about the need to reduce car kilometres driven by 20% and doubling the active travel budget (once again) by 2025.
Mhairi Munro-Brian, Labour Candidate for Inverleith Ward in Edinburgh, spoke about Labour’s national and local plan for active travel. She highlighted that as someone with a young family, she is standing for council election in order to push forward Labour’s goal of doubling the active travel budget in Edinburgh.
The Scottish Conservative’s Transport Spokesperson Graham Simpson MSP spoke about the need to ensure that investment is made across Scotland, highlighting the lack of investment in South Lanarkshire and other areas of the country.
Andrew Hawkins (11) told the crowd why he thinks safe cycling is important. He said he was 1 year old when the first Pedal on Parliament happened, and that he can’t wait another 10 years for the politicians to make cycling safe.
“I want to ride with my friends safely now. How many children are now adults while you debated and consulted? How many children have missed out because changes have been too slow”
Ken Talbot, Hand-Cycling Land Speed World Record Breaker, spoke on why we can and need to build infrastructure that is inclusive and provides access for all types of cyclists, including those who are disabled who find a bike their main mode of getting out and about.
“I was going to say no to speaking today because I do not feel confident riding into town on my handcycle, my only alternative was to drive, which I don’t think anyone would want to see. That is why I did come today, it’s ridiculous that I am unable to cycling into town on my hand-cycle, and so I rode, via a very roundabout route to join the protest, to ask that we build infrastructure suitable for cargo bikes, mobility bikes, hand-cycles, not just standard 2-wheeled bikes”
You can find more photos from the day (free to use and share, with credit) on our Flickr pool: https://www.flickr.com/groups/14846232@N22/