Thousands of cyclists – including at least two party leaders and a Scottish government minister – are expected to converge on the streets of Edinburgh and simultaneously in Aberdeen this weekend for Scotland’s biggest demonstration for safer streets. Led by a tandem club which pairs visually-impaired stokers with sighted captains, the protest will gather at the Meadows in Edinburgh at 12 noon before cycling down to the Scottish Parliament to call for greater investment in active travel.
The Fife Talking Tandems cycling club – whose members will have ridden a round trip of 40 miles to attend the event – are leading out Pedal on Parliament to show that cycling can benefit everyone, if the conditions are right. With active travel increasingly high on the political agenda in Scotland in this election campaign, they will be joined by transport minister Derek Mackay, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie – who will also cycle from Fife – and Green Party leader Patrick Harvie. Kezia Dugdale, leader of the Labour party has also tweeted the organisers that she is hoping to attend. Thousands of cyclists and marchers will join them for the ride down to Holyrood, having come from across Scotland with feeder rides coming from Cumbernauld, Kirkcaldy, Glasgow and Peebles, while riders will simultaneously gather in Aberdeen’s Hazlehead Park to ride to Marischal College in a satellite event organised by the Aberdeen Cycle Forum.
The mass ride, which is now in its fifth year, has grown to the point where riders are still leaving the Meadows long after the leaders have reached the Parliament building 1.5 miles away. Since its inception in 2012 the campaign has been successful in putting active travel on Scotland’s political agenda and encouraging the Scottish government to reverse planned cuts in and increase investment in infrastructure for safe cycling.
Mike Young, secretary of the Talking Tandems, and himself a visually impaired stoker, said “Talking Tandems is both delighted and proud to be leading out this year’s PoP procession. Our presence on Saturday amongst so many other likeminded people will demonstrate that visually impaired cyclists – and those who suffer from other disabilities – love getting out on their bikes for all the reasons that sighted and able bodied cyclists do; but like them, we need a safe environment in which to cycle, and sometimes this requires different approaches and additional investment. We would therefore take this opportunity to remind the Scottish Government that cycling comes in many forms besides ‘mainstream’ and ask them to keep in mind the needs of disabled cyclists”
Denise Marshall, on behalf of Pedal on Parliament, said “PoP is a fun, family-friendly event but with a serious purpose. When PoP started, cycling and active travel were barely on the agenda, with regular cuts to funding. Now, the Scottish Government likes to boast that it’s spending record amounts on active travel – whilst cutting funding for local authorities to spend on cycling and walking. Without proper investment, cycling will never reach the levels set by the Scottish Government’s own Cycling Action Plan of 10% of journeys by bike. We hope that, with the election looming, our politicians will realise that now is the time to do what the majority of Scots have said they support and invest in proper cycle tracks that suit not just young fit cyclists, but groups like the Talking Tandems.”