Day Three of our #PopUpPop weekend has been amazing. It’s been all smiles from Aberdeen to Dumfries – 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.
The third and final day of the Pedal on Parliament Weekend of Action saw cyclists taking over city streets and calling for safer crossings right across Scotland. With some dressing up and others relying on sheer weight of numbers for both safety and impact, it was a day that celebrated the joys of cycling as well as highlighting the common barriers and dangers people face when they try to get about by bike.
The events kicked off in Scotstoun in Glasgow where local father Andy Watson organised a protest and launched a petition to ask the council for a safe route to Victoria Park. The protest was attended by local MP Carol Monahan, Cllr Feargal Dalton and Robert McKay, chair of Jordanhill Community Council, who have all been pressing the council for a safer crossing here. The council tell them it’s “safe”. Families, assembled with signs calling for safer crossings (and what appeared to be a unicorn disguised as a zebra), attempted to re-enact the famous Beatles Abbey Road album cover but, without a real zebra crossing, it was too dangerous to attempt. Speaking afterwards, Watson said “Like many families, we use the crossing between Victoria Park and the nature walk every weekend. It is very intimidating to be stuck on the narrow pedestrian Island with a pram or children on bikes/scooters with cars speeding past on both sides. Glasgow City Council made a commitment to active travel so it is extremely disappointing that cars have total priority at this junction. We are calling on them to review this intersection and ensure it works for everyone, not just those traveling by car.”
Elsewhere in Glasgow, the GoBike Board of Shame made its second appearance of the weekend — outside the University of Glasgow who, along with Glasgow City Council, have recently been slammed by cycling advocates for failing to include safe cycling provision in their redevelopment of University Avenue.
In Cambuslang, guerilla action turned a painted bike lane into what is thought to be the world’s first ‘hoover-protected cycle track’ in recognition of the town’s industrial past. Toy hoovers formed a temporary barrier between cyclists and motorised traffic, showing how easily safer cycling could be achieved. Organiser Derek York said, “The toy vacuums are a lighthearted way to make a serious point. People have come along to show they want protected lanes, not just here on Main Street but on main roads across South Lanarkshire.”
In Dumfries, local cycle campaign group Cycling Dumfries were also calling for safer crossings – by dressing up as cows to protest the absurdity that dairy farms get signalised crossings on the A75 while people on foot and on bikes often have to wait for a gap in the traffic or are fenced in on narrow traffic islands while waiting to cross. A small but intrepid herd of pedalling Friesians (and one Belted Galloway) took a tour of Dumfries’ worst crossings — ironically including one by the McDonald’s drive thru restaurant. Organiser Sally Hinchcliffe said “We think it’s great that a rural county like Dumfries and Galloway makes sure its farmers can move their beasts safely without fear of traffic — we’d just like the same privileges to be afforded to humans, too. Interestingly, being dressed as cows meant that we were at least seen by the drivers, but we shouldn’t have to make spectacles of ourselves to be safe.”
Meanwhile, in Aberdeen and Dundee, mass rides were taking over parts of the cities where traffic dominates all too often. The Aberdeen Cycle Forum led a circuit of around 100 riders through the city centre streets, relying on safety in numbers to tackle roads which are usually too daunting for all but the bravest cyclists. Organiser Rachel Martin said, “For the first time ever, we saw children cycling in Aberdeen City Centre on roads that are typically unsafe for a child on a bike.”
In Dundee, an estimated 50 people on bikes turned Slessor Gardens into a carnival of cycling. Dundee’s revamped waterfront has been criticised for being cut off from the rest of the city by multiple lanes of traffic, turning the park into a giant traffic island. With riders coming in from Broughty Ferry and North Fife, the bikes briefly transformed the area into a more people-friendly place — a vision of what the city could become. Organiser Donald Baddon said “Dundee Cycle Forum got a fantastic response to it’s first POP event at Slessor Gardens, with folk pedalling to support our manifesto to make Dundee a cycle friendly city. The family friendly ride around the gardens highlighted the need to remove the multiple lanes of traffic that cut the Waterfront off from the City Centre. The Operation Close Pass (OCP) mat brought attention to the need for Tayside police to join in with the rest of Police Scotland Divisions and roll out the operation in Dundee.”
The protests were part of Pedal on Parliament’s weekend of action, that has seen 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.