Well, wow! Day one of our #PopUpPop weekend has gone amazingly well. It’s been a whirl of action across Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dumfries – and there’s masses more to come over the next two days – find out more here. Below is our press release which gives you a flavour of the day – or check out our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds for some instant reactions.
Despite April showers, a national weekend of “pop-up protests” for safer cycling in Scotland got off to flying start today with an emphasis on the school run and the rush hour. School children from Inverness to Dumfries took part in events calling for safer streets around their schools, while campaigners braved the streets of Glasgow and Edinburgh to act as ‘human bollards’, protecting cycling commuters.
On Edinburgh’s Forrest Road, over 40 campaigners braved the rain and the morning rush hour traffic to form a human bike lane to stop vehicles from encroaching the painted lanes – or simply parking in them. Organiser Ewen MacLean said, “Forrest Road is incredibly dangerous for cyclists and produces confusion for drivers. The cycle lane is almost always occupied, and the light phasing has potential to cause collisions. Today we demonstrated that providing protection on the cycle lane here will enormously benefit the cyclists who use it, and encourage more to take up active travel and benefit the city as a whole.”
In Glasgow, On Bikes organised a similar action which took place on Cumbernauld Road to protect young people and give them the experience of cycling in a protected space, after a survey of local secondary school students found that less than half were confident about cycling on the roads. Ben Raw of On Bikes said, “It was great to see the community spirit of local people getting together today to ask for the best for the next generation.” Patryk Polak, a pupil from Smithy Croft Secondary School, said “Having cycle lanes would help people admire Glasgow more. It would be nice if I could be safer when I cycle to school.”
There were also school bike buses in four Edinburgh schools, with children encouraged to cycle (or walk and scoot) together for safety, noting where particular barriers to active travel lie and working together to identify solutions. Niall Anderson, who led the bike bus to Davidson’s Mains Primary School said “Despite some rain, we had more than 150 people cycling to school this morning in our bike bus. We couldn’t find enough racks for them when we reached the school! It shows the incredible potential for a non-polluting school run, if only we could ensure everyone’s safety”.
Meanwhile, in Portobello, pupils from two schools looked at barriers to safer cycling. Charlie Wood from Spokes Portobello said “The children today were loud and clear – they want safe cycling infrastructure and a lot less traffic around schools.”
There were similar events in Inverness and Dumfries. At St. Michael’s Primary School in Dumfries, over 20 children gathered in the local park because access to the school itself is too dangerous. Principal teacher Ruth Cubbon said “The children had a great time cycling to school with their friends this morning and it was great to start the school day with some exercise. We would majorly benefit from safer cycle routes to our school given the volume of traffic on the roads. I would love to see all children have the opportunity to cycle to our school safely.”
The protests marked the start of Pedal on Parliament’s weekend of action, with 20 “Pop-Up PoP” events being organised by local campaign groups, schools and ordinary families. The grassroots campaign has held mass rallies on the Scottish parliament for the past seven years, but this year is ringing the changes by encouraging local groups to take the message to their councils instead.