Day two of our #PopUpPop weekend has us buzzing. It’s been non-stop action across the country from Inverness to Dumfries, from Glasgow to Edinburgh – and there’s still more to come tomorrow – 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.
Cyclists across Scotland took to the streets today with a clear message to local councils: no more dangerous cycle routes. Across Stirling, Edinburgh and greater Glasgow, numerous guerrilla actions took place to draw attention to cycle routes that have been poorly designed, unfinished or actively dangerous.
Starting off in Stirling, campaigners coned off a cycle lane that is often ignored by drivers – and cheekily installed the ‘no parking’ notices that the council ought to have put up almost 14 years ago. Organiser Andrew Abbess, local rep for Cycling UK, said “we are hoping to hear a date when Stirling Council will put up the missing signs, hopefully before the 14th anniversary of the legal order on 9th May”. Meanwhile in Glasgow, cyclists took more direct action on Howard Street with a revolving human bike chain occupying a bike lane that is notorious for illegal parking. Organiser Dave Holliday said “We came out to show that ‘bike lane means bike lane’. We are taking back control and showing that the wheels of the people matter.”
Elsewhere in Glasgow, the GoBike Board of shame revealed its latest location on Kilmarnock Road beside a notorious narrow cycle lane painted in the door zone. The board read “Roll Up! Roll Up! For Glasgow City Council’s FREE ride of danger rollercoaster THE DOOR ZONE!! Ride in it and get whacked! Ride out of it and get smacked! No height restrictions apply! Mind how you go!” GoBike have written to the council again to ask that these lanes are made safe.
In Edinburgh things took a more surreal turn, with one campaigner fed up of dangerously narrow cycle lanes, taking his “Jelly Baby Warriors Stick” to the streets to measure the width of some of the cities more terrifyingly narrow lanes – some even with streams of traffic on both sides. With 1.5 metres (50 Jelly Babies) being the minimum safe distance for overtaking a bike, narrower lanes have been found to encourage dangerously close passes. After a call out for Edinburgh’s worst bike lanes, Twitter user The Bonnie Loon took his sweetie yardstick from Haymarket to lanes on Morrison Street, Forrest Road, Bristo Square and West Maitland Street and found they all came up wanting. Morrison Street won the narrowest accolade at a mere 23 jelly babies. Afterwards, the intrepid campaigner said, “Edinburgh was the seat of enlightenment but, today, in this city, we have a man measuring paint on a road with Jelly Babies to illustrate that paint on a road does not have magic super powers for making people safe. Contact your local councillors and your MSP’s and demand safe direct routes for you and your family whether you walk or cycle. Saying ‘I’d like to cycle but it is too dangerous’ needs to end.”
Elsewhere in Edinburgh, a caravan of cargo bikes, tandems, trailers and other non-standard machines took on the Chicane Challenge. Attempting to navigate the barriers on NCN1, protesters demonstrated that this safe route can actually be impossible for some of the more vulnerable cyclists to use. Organiser David French said, “Whilst we had a lot of fun trying to fit our bikes through some of the chicanes, we did have to physically lift some of the bikes over certain barriers. This shows how chicanes make the cycle path inaccessible to anyone who can’t easily dismount or pick up their bike – like parents ferrying children, or disabled people.”
Meanwhile in Midlothian, a posse of tiny superheroes and their families took to their bikes to remind the council that you shouldn’t need superpowers to cycle. Organiser Laura Cockram, a local resident said “Our children loved cycling in safety today – we want it to be normal for us to cycle safely in Midlothian everyday. To school, to work, to the shops and between our villages. For our environment and for our health and communities.” Michaela Jackson, of Gorebridge Development Trust, said “We need the Council to take active travel seriously. We are asking Midlothian Council to spend 10% of the transport budget on active travel and to play their part designing cycling for all ages and abilities into Scotland’s roads.”
In East Dunbartonshire campaigners gathered with stuffed bears to complete the Bears Way which was controversially stopped before more than a mile had been built. Since then, at least one cyclist has been injured in a collision on a section that ought to have been separated from traffic had the route been built in full. Organiser Caroline Noble said “When you provide segregated lanes similar to Phase 1 of the Bearsway, you get a whole new demographic on board – from families who would like to cycle together but don’t have the confidence, to those who find speeding traffic too much of a challenge. But the lanes need to go somewhere and link up with a cycling network. Completing the Bears Way would bring an array of benefits – improved mental and physical health of users, reduced carbon emissions, and greater community adhesion. In terms of value, it really is hard to beat and it is vital that local authorities such as EDC honour their commitments to it.”
The day of action ended in East Renfrewshire with a hill climb with a difference. Encouraged by cowbell-wielding spectators, cyclists tackled the gradients of Ayr Road – while stopping to “ticket” cars illegally parked in the cycle lane. Organiser Iona Shepherd said “We hope after today’s leg-busting parking ticket stunt, that drivers will think before blocking cycle lanes and forcing people on bikes into fast moving traffic. We’ve also written to East Renfrewshire Council to ask them to consider segregating these lanes to make them safer for more people to use.”
The protests were part 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. The campaign will continue into Sunday with further pop-up events taking place in Aberdeen, Cambuslang, Dumfries, Dundee and Glasgow.