Mark Beaumont among thousands set to Pedal of Parliament
EDINBURGH has long led the way when it comes to bike use, with 7.5 per cent of all commuters travelling to work by bike.
But only a quarter of residents think cycling in Edinburgh is safe, while less than half think the city is a good place to ride a bike overall.
According to the Pedal on Parliament campaign, such issues are caused by insufficient infrastructure and a lack of investment.
For the past seven years, the group has organised an annual mass ride on the Scottish Parliament to demand more be done to improve cycling provision across the country.
At least 4,000 people are expected to “cycle, scoot and march” through Edinburgh for this year’s Pedal on Parliament on April 28.
Kim Harding, one of the group’s founders and organisers, said: “At our first ride in 2012, we informed the council we expected around 300 to show up.
“It was closer to 3,000.
“We expect it to continue to grow this year.”
The ride will be used to promote the group’s eight point manifesto, which includes demands for safer speed limits, better road traffic law and ten per cent of the national transport budget to be spent on walking or cycling.
The Scottish Government has doubled the active travel budget to £80 million a year over the course of the current parliament, which Ms Harding describes as “good but not great”.
The Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (CAPS) sets a target of ten per cent of all Scottish journeys to be made by bike by 2020.
The plan highlights the Scottish capital as an example to follow, stating that “year-on-year increases over time towards a 10 per cent allocation of national and council transport budgets as Edinburgh is achieving... [are a] pre-requisite for success”.
But Ms Harding argues that progress towards towards this target is too slow across the board.
“Provision remains awful and that’s why there are so few cyclists,” said Ms Harding.
“We haven’t achieved our aims yet. Our top one is getting the investment and getting the quality infrastructure we feel is needed.
“There’s no point in giving investment without infrastructure.
“The quality has to be there or it doesn’t get it used and money is wasted.”
As well as the ride in Edinburgh, there will be concurrent events held in Aberdeen and Inverness as well as “feeder rides” in Queensferry, Hermiston, Leith and other areas on Edinburgh’s outskirts.
The march will be led by Mark Beaumont, the Scottish adventurer who holds the record for world record for cycling around the world.
Although the day is intended as a protest, politicians across all parties have also previously taken part including Minister for Transport Humza Yousaf, Labour’s Kezia Dugdale, Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie, Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie and multiple Conservative councillors.
Dr Scott Arthur, Labour councillor for Colinton/ Fairmilehead, is one local representative taking part in this year’s ride.
He said: “Both the Scottish Government and the City of Edinburgh Council have shown a genuine commitment to active transport, but I’ll be taking part in PoP as I feel there is much more to do when it comes to converting that rhetoric in to reality.
“For example, in my Ward I think it is shameful that very few of the kids have safe cycling routes they can use to get to school.
“John F Kennedy said in the 60’s that “Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike”, but 50 years later the lack of good cycling infrastructure in our Capital means that our children and grandchildren are being denied what I consider to be a right.”
The event will gather at The Meadows on Saturday, April 28 at Noon.
According to the PoP website, participants can ‘cycle, scoot and march on close droads down to the Scottish Parliament’.
Mark Beaumont said: “The three mile ride from the Meadows might be short, but the effect could be profound.”