So we had a fabulous event. 3000 of you – men, woman and children –demonstrated the demand for safer cycling in Scotland. So now you may be wondering: what does that get you? Does it make a difference? Was anyone listening?
Fast forward to Wednesday’s Holyrood Infrastructure and Capital Investment committee meeting and you could be forgiven for thinking that our protest fell on deaf ears.
Yes, cycling and Pedal on Parliament was indeed discussed with Aileen McLeod (SNP) talking about our manifesto and reading out some of our points. Would we finally get some support from the top?
Disappointingly, Keith Brown (Minister for Transport) used the opportunity to once again remind us of the drop in the ocean that has already been allocated, suggesting that ‘a lot of money had been spent’ on cycling networks. This is the same statement he made on the morning of Pedal on Parliament, suggesting nothing has changed. Certainly it didn’t acknowledge that that ‘lot’ of money amounts to less than a penny in every pound spent on transport. Certainly nothing close to the 5% we’re asking for.
Asked about progress made towards the target of 10% of journeys to be made by bike – the government’s own target, remember – he stated merely that it has been difficult to achieve. When pressed, he seemed to be passing responsibility on: to Local Authorities, even to Scots themselves, claiming a ‘cultural change’ was needed to bring about more cycling. We didn’t get the sense that the thought of missing the target was something keeping ministers awake at night, at least not yet.
Our message hasn’t quite hit home yet, has it?
Fortunately, it seems something may be changing, as the minister has agreed to meet with representatives of Pedal on Parliament at the end of the month. We hope that this time he’ll be ready to really listen to what we have to say: such as why we believe the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (CAPS) is not enough to deliver the government’s own target of 10% of journeys by bike by 2020, and how our manifesto provides the outline of a real action plan for cycling in Scotland. We’ll be going ready to listen to what Mr. Brown has to say in return – but we won’t be fobbed off with a repetition of the same message we’ve had from the government in the past. 3000 of you did not pedal on Parliament to be told about what the government has already done, or that targets are hard. You pedalled on Parliament to say you wanted to see things change. And we’ll make sure that your voices will continue to be heard.