Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Thousands take part in Pedal on Parliament in Edinburgh

Pedal on Parliament event Image copyright Chris Hill

Thousands of people from across Scotland have taken part in the fourth annual Pedal on Parliament.

Ahead of the event, organisers said their goal was to encourage politicians to make Scotland a cycle-friendly country.

They are also campaigning for better facilities for pedestrians.

Cyclists and those taking part on foot gathered at the Meadows in Edinburgh, before making the journey to the Scottish parliament building.

Travelling via George the IV Bridge and the Royal Mile, the ride was led by families with children and by cyclists using specially adapted disability bikes.

Organisers said the move was designed to emphasise that cycling is, or should be, for everyone.

A simultaneous event, Pedal on Marischal, held in Aberdeen, drew about 150 cyclists.

The Pedal on Parliament "manifesto" calls for:

  • 10% of the transport budget to be spent on cycling and walking
  • Improved infrastructure for cyclists
  • Lower speed limits in areas where people live, work and play
  • Improved road traffic law enforcement
Image copyright Chris Hill
Image copyright Chris Hill
Image copyright Chris Hill
Image caption Those taking part in the annual event set off for the Scottish Parliament at 12:00
Image copyright Chris Hill

One of the event organisers, Denise Marshall, responsible for leading the Pedestrians on Parliament contingent, said the aim was a "healthier, wealthier Scotland".

She said: "Pedal on Parliament is not about making roads safer just for keen cyclists.

"It's about helping our children get to school safely, under their own steam."

Safety on Scotland's roads and a lack of quality bike infrastructure, such as segregated bike lanes, are seen as major barriers to increased cycling levels.

Dr David Brennan, from Glasgow, rode the route on the bike Edinburgh cyclist Andrew McNicoll was riding when he was killed while travelling to work in January 2012.

Image copyright Chris Hill
Image caption Dr David Brennan stands with Andrew McNicoll's bike as he lead the minute's silence

Introducing a minute's silent for those killed on the roads, Dr Brennan said: "The fact that there are so few scratches on this bike, shows just how vulnerable we are on the road.

"We need to see conditions where everyone can ride and families do not suffer the tragedies the McNicoll family have."

Mr McNicoll's death - and that of fellow cyclist Audrey Fyfe, who died after being hit by a car in Edinburgh in 2011 - inspired the first Pedal on Parliament.

Active travel

Outside the Scottish parliament building Transport Minister Derek Mackay pledged that the Scottish government would invest in the infrastructure around cycling, so it is seen as "a proper mode of transport".

He told the crowd gathered he would do everything he could to support cycling, and said: "My commitment for 2015/16 is that the government will spend more on cycling than the record breaking previous year."

Image copyright Chris Hill
Image caption Representatives from Scotland's political parties spoke of their commitment to promoting safe cycling

Cameron Buchanan for the Conservatives said there was a need to create "a continuous cycling infrastructure so cyclists don't end up running red lights", while Sarah Boyack of Scottish Labour said changes needed to be made at a local level.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said his party had committed to increase spending on active travel every year, and told those gathered: "Your voice is being heard in parliament and we will continue to make it a priority".

Speaking at the rally Alison Johnstone of the Scottish Greens praised the event as a "fantastic grass-roots movement" and encouraged those taking part to continue to push for "transformative change" with regard to the government's cycling budget.

Tram trial

Meanwhile, cyclists will be able to bring their bikes on board Edinburgh trams during the month of May as part of a trial, it has been announced.

Both folded and unfolded pedal bikes will be allowed on during off peak hours as part of the trial, which has been supported by the city council and cycling groups.

Edinburgh Trams will take feedback from cyclists and other passengers during the trial.

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