Thousands of riders turned out on Saturday as the third annual Pedal on Parliament once again saw cyclists take the case for safer facilities to the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood.
Even transport minister Keith Brown got on his bike for the ride, joining a throng of parents, children and riders of all types, with organisers estimating total numbers exceeded the 4,000 turnout of last year’s event.
At Holyrood, children played a key role, with the speeches opened by Kyle Thomas (11), Daniel Brennan (8) and Katharine Dorman (7). Kyle said: “I believe cycling is the future for Scotland. Cycling down the high street I thought to myself that this is how cycling should be, there wasn’t a single car on the road but lots of cyclists as it should be.”
Daniel said: “I’d love to be able to go for a bike ride without going in the car to cycle with my family. It would be great if Scotland was like Amsterdam where everyone can cycle with their friends.”
Katharine said “Let’s make Scotland a cycle friendly country!”
Lynne McNicoll, stepmother of Andrew McNicoll, killed cycling to work in Edinburgh in 2012, said: “I was at the first Pedal on Parliament and to see so many more people attending today is just fantastic. The children have said it all for us – but I’m here because I don’t want anyone else to feel the way we feel every day since Andrew was killed on his bike.” She urged everyone who attended to talk to their MSPs and get their support.
Replying for the government, Keith Brown said: “We have to educate our children if we’re to make the network safe for children and their parents. We’re unapologetic about investing in education but it’s not the only thing to be done – we’re investing in safer routes to schools. We are making progress on infrastructure with more than £32 million spent on infrastructure. It will take time for Scotland to become as safe as Amsterdam. We have to change driver behaviour as well. We need to have the same attitudes as Scandinavian countries aiming towards zero deaths.'
For the Greens, Alison Johnstone said, “This is a growing movement – and it strikes me every year that this is not a niche activity – everyone is here, young and old, fit and not so fit. Cycling will help us cut congestion, improve our woeful health record – it’s a solution to all the challenges we face. We shouldn’t have to pedal on parliament – investing in cycling is just common sense. I will come here every year until we see the situation in Scotland change for the better.”
Here's a short video of Ms Johnstone's speech:
Lib Dem Willie Rennie said: “As I was cycling up Queensferry Road on my bike I could not think of any more thrilling experiences – but it’s not an experience I’d like my son to share. We need to invest so much more in active transport this year and every year from now on.”
Labour's Claudia Beamish said: “I’m a rural cyclist who’s experienced how terrifying urban cycling can be. I have to keep getting off and walking – this situation needs to change. We need transformational change. I will push strict liability with my party. I want to emphasise that it’s about how the infrastructure is designed but segregated tracks along busy roads – it shouldn’t just be lines on the roads. It’s about a good quality of life for the whole of Scotland urban and and rural.”
Edinburgh councillor Cameron Rose, Conservative, said: “There is a lot to be done, but we need to celebrate what has already been done, but London’s investment is more than double Scotland’s per head. We need to move on, step by step until Scotland is a good place for cycling.”
Chris Oliver from Road Share said: “Presumed liability is a big ask but we need to protect the vulnerable road users, not just cyclists but pedestrians. Please look at what we’re asking for and support our campaign.”
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.