As the UN Climate Conference in Glasgow gets ever nearer, our plans are developing apace for Pedal on COP rides on the Global Day of Action on November 6th. The idea is to offer people a way to cycle together as a group to the start of the march in Kelvingrove Park, aka ‘feeder rides’. As you can see on our site we’ve got rides being organised from every corner of Glasgow and many places further afield.
But if you’re looking at the map and not seeing anything near you – could you organise one yourself? It sounds like a daunting task but actually it shouldn’t be beyond the reach of most people. You don’t have to marshal a massive crowd, or be experienced at organising huge events. Just a handful of people cycling to Glasgow is enough to make a difference.
So here’s a quick look at the why, the what, and the how of putting together a Pedal on COP26 ride.
Many of us feel hopeless in the face of a problem so large and apparently so intractable as climate change. Getting on your bike and doing something about it can help to make the problem feel more manageable, one pedal stroke at a time. Doing it with like-minded company is even better.
The Global Day of Action is aimed at world leaders, to keep the pressure on them to negotiate a deal that is potentially our last chance to avoid a climate catastrophe. We are taking part in the big march in Glasgow under our ‘This Machine Fights Climate Change’ banner because we feel that cycling has to be part of the solution and we will be forming a visible Cycling Bloc (sustainable transport), walking our bikes at the end of the march. But it’s not just about getting to the march and rally in Glasgow, and influencing world leaders. Turning around our current path to disaster means taking action at all levels. Simply by setting up a ride to COP – however small – you could send a powerful message to your own local politicians: that climate change matters to their own electorate (bearing in mind there are local elections next year). It will also be a chance to talk to the local media about climate change and the role bikes can play in your own area, and the barriers people face if they want to cycle instead of driving.
So if that’s inspired you – what exactly do you need to do?
To join the march itself, you and your band of fellow cyclists will need to be at Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow on the 6th November in time for the start, ideally by noon (but as we’ll be at the back of the march, which will be huge and will take time to get moving, you could arrive a bit later and still make it). Some of our longer distance rides are aiming to get into Glasgow the night before, to allow a bit more leeway in the timing. The COP Coalition have organised a Homestay Network for folk looking for somewhere to stay. Either way, we’ll be marching together (walking our bikes except for those who need them as a mobility aid) so it should be a joyful gathering of the bike tribes on the day. With a bit of luck and organisation, you might be able to join up with other rides along the way, so you could end up in a beautiful snowballing peloton of cyclists for the final stages of your ride.
So how to achieve this? A ‘feeder ride’ might sound like a daunting thing to organise, but boiled down to its essentials, it’s actually pretty simple: you need to determine a route, when and where you’ll start from, and find some other cyclists to join you.
Your route will have to balance directness, safety and speed. Some may prefer to use off-road paths as much as possible, others will feel it’s easier to stick to the roads. That’s up to you but, as a rule of thumb, bigger groups will be more visible (and hence may feel safer) on roads, and will also be less able to use things like canal tow paths and narrow shared use pavements without inconveniencing other users. We can advise on routes into Glasgow itself (or you may want to look at our Glasgow feeder ride routes for ideas, or even aim to join one of them if your schedule permits).
Working backwards from your arrival time, route, and expected pace, you’ll have an idea of when you’ll need to set off. It doesn’t have to be one massive ride – you could split it over multiple days. Remember that days will be short in Scotland in November, so decide if you’re comfortable leading a ride in the dark. Also allow a bit of time for mechanicals, eating and comfort breaks, navigating (if it’s an unfamiliar route), and the inevitable mahoosive headwind. Larger groups will tend to be slower, as you’ll need to ride at the pace of the slowest, and also stops might take longer. We’ve got experience of organising POP feeder rides and will be happy to talk through your plans with you and advise if necessary. Cycling UK have also put together this handy guide to organising COP rides which will give you some more practical hints
Once you’ve got a rough idea of where you’re starting from, your route, and your timings (including stops along the way where other people might join you), it’s time to start finding people to ride with you. Start by recruiting some people who can help out with the organising and ride leading and marshalling on the day, especially if you’re expecting more than half a dozen riders. Then you can start to spread the word in earnest.
We’ll be putting all the rides onto our feeder page, so ultimately we will need the following information from you (don’t worry if you haven’t got it all nailed down completely – we can update as your plans develop):
- Your route (ideally as a GPX file or on a page like Ride with GPS where we can get the GPX from it.
- When and where the ride starts, and any intermediate joining points and times along the way..
- Some information about how challenging the ride will be (an idea of your intended pace, whether there will be any off-road sections, how much climbing etc.). Also what people will need to do about food – and accommodation for multi-day rides – along the way.
- Roughly when you’re planning on getting into Glasgow.
- A link to a page where people can register as joining (such as an Eventbrite page or a Facebook event) so you can get a sense of the numbers, and/or a way you can be contacted if people have any queries.
We also have resources for you to share – header images for event pages and an editable poster if you want to spread the word that way.
Then you’re ready to really ramp up the publicity, which is how the ride will be able to make a real difference. Invite your local politicians (if only to ride a little way with you at the start). Get in touch with local schools or community groups you may be passing along the way. Get the word out to your local media (we can help with drafting a media release if you would like). Organise a send-off committee with a photo opportunity for your local news outlets. Make flags, signs and banners (we have a printable flag graphic coming soon if you want to use it) so people you pass know you’re not just out for a bike ride but are pedalling with a purpose (these will be great for the march as well). If you’re using social media, use our hashtags (#PedalOnCOP26 and #ThisMachineFightsClimateChange) and one for your own ride (such as #YourTownPedalOnCOP). Do remember to tag us in (@POPScotland) so we can share and amplify your posts..
With all that out of the way, then will come the easy bit – actually cycling to Glasgow!
If this still sounds daunting – we’ll be with you every step of the way to help and advise. We can also put you in touch with other ride leaders to share tips and routes. If you want to chat further or have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch – you can reach us via firstname.lastname@example.org or any of our social media channels.