Transport minister Derek Mackay pledged additional spending on cycling as the sun came out for a fourth mass rally on Parliament
Early morning downpours did nothing to deter the crowds – or dampen the spirits – that descended on Edinburgh today for the fourth Pedal on Parliament, the annual grassroots campaign for safer cycling. Cyclists and marchers gathered at the Meadows to call for a cycle-friendly Scotland, including some who had ridden from as far afield as Glasgow, Moffat, and even Elgin. A parallel event in Aberdeen, the first time a PoP event has been held outside the capital, also drew 150 cyclists. Despite tweeting a picture of herself on a bike the day before, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon did not attend, but Transport Minister Derek Mackay did, pledging that the Scottish government would increase investment in infrastructure on top of last year’s record-breaking spending.
Introducing a minute’s silence for those who have died on the roads, David Brennan – who had ridden the route from the Meadows to Holyrood on the bike that was ridden by Andrew McNicoll when he was killed – said “The fact that there are so few scratches on this bike, shows just how vulnerable we are on the road. We need to see conditions where everyone can ride and families do not suffer the tragedies the McNicoll family have.”
Briana Pegado, President of the Edinburgh Student’s Union said “The student movement is totally behind cycling. The number one reason our first year students don’t cycle is lack of confidence to cycle on the roads. Cycling is one of the most affordable transport options but we can’t cycle without infrastructure to support us to cycle safely.”
Emilia Hanna of Friends of the Earth, said ” we’re here to tell the government that we have the right to cycle safely – without being knocked down but also without being suffocated by pollution from too much traffic. Air pollution alone in Scotland is costing 2000 lives this year and air quality is breaching legal levels in Edinburgh, Glasgow Aberdeen and Dundee. It doesn’t have to be this way. Imagine a city where polluting vehicles are banned and cyclists get traffic lights timed for them – it exists, it’s Copenhagen, where more people cycle than drive. It’s our right to cycle safely”
Transport Minister Derek Mackay told the crowd, ” I can assure you that I hear your message that every politician should do more for cycling. There’s a long way to go but my assurance to you is that as the new minister for transport is that I will do everything I can to support cycling as much as I can. My commitment for 15/16 is the government will spend more on cycling than the record breaking previous year. We’ll put our money where our mouth is to invest in infrastructure so that cycling is seen as a proper mode of transport – across a range of policies. There’s consensus across the political parties to invest in cycling, and at local level. I commend Edinburgh council for leading the way on 20mph limits and I will make it as easy as possible for other councils to follow suit”
Cameron Buchanan for the Conservatives said that “we need to do more to create continuous cycling infrastructure so cyclists don’t end up running red lights. Holland and Denmark lead the way on this.”
Willie Rennie for the Liberal Democrats thanked the Fife feeder ride for riding with him from Fife and the investment that had made cycling from Fife into Edinburgh safer “My pledge is to keep Derek Mackay to live up to his pledge. Liberal Democrats have committed to increase spending on active travel every year. We need drivers to think about us as vulnerable people on the roads. Your voice is being heard in parliament and we will continue to make it a priority”
Sarah Boyack for Labour said “Thanks to POP for the magnificent weather! We need more clarity and transparency so we can track the money and make sure it integrates into transport, health, and planning policies. A lot of what needs to be done has to be done at local level. I love the fact that Glasgow is now competing with Edinburgh to be the best cycling city in Scotland – we need events right across Scotland so that every school, hospital, train station and everywhere is accessible to cycling. We need long term, radical investment, with more money for local government so they can do things properly. Change need pressure and you are the right people to put that pressure on”
Green MSP Alison Johnstone said ” How many more POPs are we going to have to have? By the time of POP40 will we be coming together to celebrate the fact that we’ve cut deaths, cut health problems and met our climate targets? This is a transport justice issue – 40% of households don’t have access to a car – 60% of poorest households. Our roads budget 695 million pounds – spot the difference with the cycling budget. This fantastic grass-roots movement means the message is getting through – we can get that budget up year on year until we see the transformative change we need. I want to see an end to fatalities but also an increase in our healthy active population – not a vision, but a target”
Bruce Whitehead Left Unity candidate, said “We have a strong belief that we need to tackle the climate catastrophe that we’re facing – and transport is responsible for 24% of emissions. I will be working hard to lobby for an integrated transport system of trams, trolley buses and bikes.