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Cyclists pedal to Parliament to demand better bike infrastructure

Protestors gather outside the Scottish Parliament (Pedal on Parliament)
Protestors gather outside the Scottish Parliament (Pedal on Parliament)

Cyclists took to their bikes and descended on Holyrood to demand politicians make Scotland a cycle-friendly country.

Protesters cycled and marched through Edinburgh’s streets before making their way to the Scottish Parliament as they called for boosts to active travel spending, better bike infrastructure, and slower speed limits near homes, workplaces and play areas.

The Pedal on Parliament campaign is now in its 10th year and Sally Hinchcliffe, one of its founding members, said that “there are far too many roads and junctions that the average person just wouldn’t dream of cycling on”.

Protesters cycle along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, past St Giles’ Cathedral (Pedal on Parliament)

“Compared to other countries, we have a long way to go. It isn’t only the Netherlands that is cycle-friendly, particularly since the start of the pandemic. We are seeing countries across the world investing in greater cycle infrastructure, in both urban and rural areas,” she said.

The campaign group is asking politicians of all parties to sign up to its manifesto committing to the three pledges, and at the march today called on them to deliver on their promises.

Alex Robertson, who was this year’s main organiser, said he “felt it was important to send a message to our politicians before the next local elections”.

“I ride with my kids and I want to feel safe with them cycling with me and for them to have the freedom to access our wonderful city when they’re able to cycle independently,” he said.

Lorraine McIntosh, of Infrasisters – an organisation campaigning for safe, well lit, on street infrastructure, said women “face a choice between road violence or predatory violence whenever they ride their bikes, especially after dark, which in Scotland can be 4pm”.

“90% of women we surveyed have either been assaulted or threatened, or have a fear of this happening,” she said.

“Therefore we’re asking for separate road space that’s integrated and physically protected and national guidelines for road design that prioritises the safety of vulnerable road users.”

And Ken Talbot, hand-cycling land speed world record breaker, called for more inclusive cycling infrastructure.

The campaign group said it had invited politicians from across the political spectrum to speak to the crowd.

MSP Patrick Harvey, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, Scottish Conservative MSP Graham Simpson, Mhairi Munro-Brian of Scottish Labour, and Lesley Macinnes of the SNP spoke at the protest.