On Saturday, people by their thousands took to the streets of Edinburgh to protest road danger and demand that their elected representatives make substantial changes to the transport infrastructure and laws.
This year’s event came just weeks after the driver of a 55 foot articulated lorry was acquitted of causing the death of Andrew McNicoll as he cycled to work along Lanark Road in January 2012.
This is the third year for the Pedal on Parliament protest - each attracting more people than the previous one. Estimates are that about 4500 people protested this year - many of whom were families: FAMILIES TO THE FORE FOR THE THIRD PEDAL ON PARLIAMENT.
CHILDREN TELL POLITICIANS WHAT THEY WANT
One speaker at the protest in front of Holyrood was 8 year old Daniel Brennan who told the crowd:
“I’d love to be able to go for a bike ride without going in the car to cycle with my family. It would be great if Scotland was like Amsterdam where everyone can cycle with their friends.”
7 year old Katharine Dorman demanded:
“Let’s make Scotland a cycle friendly country!”
And 11 year old Kyle Thomas said:
“I believe cycling is the future for Scotland… Cycling down the high street I thought to myself that this is how cycling should be, there wasn’t a single car on the road but lots of cyclists as it should be.”
NO LONGER ABLE TO BE IGNORED
The growing visibility meant that government could no longer ignore the voices being raised: Transport Minister Keith Brown attended the protest to defend his government’s policies.
He announced £4.5 million over 2 years for promoting cycling training.
Not surprisingly, the organisers were quick to point out that:
…educating children to cycle on the road is not the best use of money, compared with starting to invest in a cycling network where they can actually be safe, and more importantly feel safe, as they get around on two wheels.
There’s no training in the world that will guarantee a child’s safety around HGVs and fast-moving cars – and as long as children need to mix in traffic to ride their bikes, then parents will be reluctant to give them the freedom to ride.
Thankfully, that message is being heard and taken on board by a growing number of politicians - the organisers are continuously updating their list of supportive MSPs and quotes: POLITICAL RESPONSES.
Keith Brown, the Transport Minister, addressed the crowd at PoP and said in part:
“We are making progress on infrastructure with more than £32 million spent on infrastructure… It will take time for Scotland to become as safe as Amsterdam. We have to change driver behaviour as well… we need to have the same attitudes as Scandinavian countries aiming towards zero deaths.”
The protest was front page news and received wide coverage in the media - a full list is being updated by the PoP organisers: MEDIA COVERAGE.
The BBC gave it headline coverage on their TV broadcast and news website: Thousands take part in Pedal on Parliament event in Edinburgh.
The organisers continue to post updates using their Twitter account: @PoPScotland. Their website is at PEDALONPARLIAMENT.ORG
WRITE TO YOUR POLITICIANS
A leading campaigner for reducing road danger is the step-mum, Lynne, and father, Ian, of Andrew McNicoll - who was killed in a collision with a 55ft long articulated lorry in Edinburgh as he commuted to work on his bicycle.
The driver of the lorry was recently acquitted of causing his death: Man cleared over death of cyclist Andrew McNicoll.
Lynne wrote on her blog (HERE) following the PoP 2014 protest:
“it was so good to see politicians in some numbers with us: MSP Alison Johnstone, Cllr Cameron Rose, Transport Minister Keith Brown, Cllr Andrew Burns.
I asked the crowd and I ask you too now – if your politician was there, thank them and if they weren’t there please do write to them and tell them what we want:
No more cyclist deaths;
for anyone of any age to cycle safely.
A time-lapse photo of people cycling to the protest is HERE.