Next Saturday 25 April sees the fourth annual edition of Pedal on Parliament as thousands of people in Scotland’s capital once again call on the country’s politicians to put in place measures that will improve conditions for those already cycling and encourage more to take to two wheels.
The event comes in the same month as the chief executive of Cycling Scotland said that more investment in cycling infastructure is needed if Holyrood’s ambitious target of 10 per cent of trips being made by bike by 2020 is to be met.
Yet while levels of cycle commuting in some areas – Edinburgh, Inverness and Moray – are in line with that one in ten figure, nationally modal share is just 1 per cent, and most would accept that unless something changes, and quickly, there is no hope of the Scottish Government meeting its target.
Pedal on Parliament was founded in early 2012 to present a manifesto to politicians outlining what campaigners believe needs to change to make cyclists safer, get more people riding, and help achieve that target.
The eight point manifesto calls for:
1. Proper funding for cycling (5% of the transport budget & 10% for active travel overall).
2. Design cycling into Scotland’s roads.
3. Slower speeds where people live, work and play
4. Integrate cycling into local transport strategies
5. Improved road traffic law and enforcement
6. Reduce the risk of HGVs to cyclists and pedestrians
7. A strategic and joined-up programme of road user training
8. Improved statistics supporting decision-making and policy.
As in previous years, next week’s ride will start at the Meadows at noon and head towards the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood.
The inaugural event in 2012 attracted 3,000 people and numbers had swelled to 4,500 for last year’s edition.
Pedal on Parliament co-founder Kim Harding told Herald Scotland: “When we started out we thought it would be a one-off event and we had no idea how much it was going to change our lives.
“When Pedal on Parliament started, spending on cycling as a means transport was in decline. It has since stabilised and, perhaps, started to increase. We have been told by those in a position to know that this as a direct result of POP. When so many people turn out those in power take notice.
“It's also becoming more politically possible to reallocate road space to bikes and pedestrians, something that local politicians have long shied away from.
“In East Dunbartonshire, for example, they are converting a four lane road to three lanes to create a two-way cycle track. This would have been unthinkable four years ago.”
Harding added: “Among the things that makes POP so special is that it attracts people of all ages from toddlers on balance bike to pensioners, and from all walks of life, including many people who don't cycle regularly, but wish they could - there's a lot of bikes that look as if they have been very recently dug out of a shed.
“Emphasising the fact that cycling can be for everyone if the conditions are right, we should have a good showing from Free Wheel North, the Glasgow charity that provides adapted bikes for people who need them.
“And once again, we'll have families to the front. There's really nothing better than seeing a mass of kids on bikes taking over the Royal Mile. We say that 'we are everyone' and we really mean that. There's no distinct group called 'cyclists'. We are just people.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.