In another guest post, Norman Armstrong from Free Wheel North explains why they support Pedal on Parliament – and will be bringing some of their specially adapted bikes to Edinburgh to help lead the ride on Saturday the 25th April, from the Meadows to the Scottish Parliament.
Free Wheel North is a cycling development charity based in Glasgow that shares Pedal on Parliament’s vision of a healthier, safer world, where people aged 8 to 80 can enjoy freedom of movement using only the energy of metabolism and muscle.
We campaign for the human rights of people whose ability to move around the city is limited by poor street design. British street design institutionally prioritises cars. Pedestrians, cyclists and the disabled (and, in fact, all those who use human-powered movement) are forced to the margins of urban space, to the detriment of the whole of society.
The case is, however, not hopeless. Although we must look to Europe for the best examples of street design, there are movements afoot in the UK— even in Scotland— where human beings are dominant over heavy machinery.
Free Wheel North’s cycling centre on Glasgow Green contains a kilometre of track, tightly woven into a compact space where every conceivable form of pedal power has free rein. Hand powered cycles, tricycles, tandems, companion bikes, bike trains for six people, the conference bike for seven and rickshaws, all demonstrate the huge variety of cycling that is possible.
This space is the proof needed to show that there is a huge latent demand for cycling, even in the UK’s reportedly most inactive city. People are not lazy; on the contrary, they are desperate for exercise, given the chance. See it here:
However, we are not content to stay within the confines of our centre. In fact, we can’t. Our track is the one place in the UK that has cycling congestion! We need to spread out, not just in the park but beyond, into the city. It’s all about reallocating space from cars to people. Build it and they will come, as they say.
Our cycling centre is a glimpse into a healthier future. There are others— Cambridge and Oxford have removed cars from swathes of their city centres. Even in Glasgow, during the Commonwealth Games, had car free days.
Congestion is, in the minds of traffic planners, always an occasion to build more capacity. Unfortunately, this has led to a negative spiral of car use. We need to show that there positive alternative. During Easter 2015, Free Wheel North had over 5000 cyclists at its cycling centre, demonstrating demand. Pedal on Parliament provides a similar window into a better world. For one day at least, politicians may realise that all these cyclists require somewhere to go. We demand more space, and time, for cycling.