This year’s Pedal on Parliament event on Saturday (23 April) will see thousands of cyclists, including three party leaders, converging on the city streets of Edinburgh and Aberdeen calling for more investment in active travel.
The event comes days before the Scottish Parliament election, on Thursday 5 May. Among those joining the annual protest will be party leaders Kezia Dugdale (Lab), Willie Rennie (Lib Dem) and Patrick Harvie (Green) as well as Transport Minister, Derek Mackay.
The Fife Talking Tandems cycling club, with visually impaired stokers led by sighted captains, will make a 40 mile round trip to Holyrood to lead the ride to Holyrood.
Denise Marshall, on behalf of Pedal on Parliament, described PoP as “a fun, family-friendly event but with a serious purpose”.
She said: “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."
The mass ride, now in its fifth year, has become so popular organisers say the riders can stretch for a mile and a half from Parliament to the Meadows. PoP says most people won’t cycle unless they feel safe doing so, and they want politicians to see cycling as something for everyone.
Mike Young, secretary of the Talking Tandems, and himself a visually impaired stoker, said: "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."
However, he adds people with disabilities, like most people, need a safe environment in which to cycle.
He said: “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".
Pedal on Parliament is making eight key demands of politicians:
The rides take place as follows:
Edinburgh: Riders gather at the Meadows from 11.30, and depart at midday for Holyrood via the George IV Bridge and the Royal Mile.
Aberdeen: The second annual Aberdonian Pedal on Parliament ride leaves from Hazelhead Drive at midday. Riders will cycle to Marischcal College to present their case to City and Shire Councillors, and, they hope, some MSP candidates, too.