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.”
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.