Pedalling on Parliament – a member’s story

The Pedal on Parliament movement is now in its third year. Last year 4,000 people pedalled on the Scottish Parliament to tell the politicians that they want a cycle-friendly Scotland. Since then, apart from little changes, Scotland is a long way away from achieving that – so they are doing it again. One of our members pedalled with them last year. Here’s the story.

On 19 May last year we pedalled over to Central Station to catch the 9.15 train to Edinburgh and show our support for Scotland’s Pedal on Parliament.

Riding through Edinburgh to get to the start of the event gave an indication of how much still needs to change – we came out of the station straight into a mass of taxis and buses and cars and especially as a newcomer to the city I felt pretty uncomfortable. Things got a little easier as we approached the Meadows, and the sight of so many and such a mix of people turning out to ask for a safer, friendlier environment for cycling made a big impression.

There was a poignant start, with a minutes silence to remember those who have lost their lives on the roads. We then set off on a beautiful traffic-free ride through the centre of Edinburgh, with time to look around at the buildings and the views, chat to each other and smile at people – surely this is the way all of our city centres should be?

Our destination was Holyrood House and the opportunity to try to get some messages across. Graham Obree talked about the need to invest in the health of a nation. David Brennan, one of the organisers, made the simple but strong point that we aren’t ‘cyclists’, we’re everyone, and stressed the need to create conditions where people of all ages can ride – conditions that will only be created if the imbalance of spending on infrastructure shifts. Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Environment and Climate Change told the crowd that the Scottish government was trying to find new ways to boost investment in cycling, but he came in for some serious heckling when all he had to talk about were small scale measures.

Despite the usual frustrations about how slow any kind of change is, I felt really up-beat on the journey home. The day was really well organised (no mean feat when you’ve got 4,000 people turning up), the aims made perfect sense, and there was a whole load of constructive energy going on. It’s all happening again on the 26th of April this year and I have my train tickets and bicycle reservation ready – get yourselves along!

Getting started…

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Gathering in the Meadows:

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At the Scottish Parliament, Arthur Seat in the back:

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Speakers getting ready…

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