April 2012

Pedal on Parliament

Spokes urges you to come along – with friends and family – to Pedal on Parliament on Saturday 28 April.   Join the huge rally, along with round-the-world cyclist Mark Beaumont (on his shortest-ever bike ride!), Spokes members Alison Johnstone MSP (Green) and Ian Murray MP (Labour) and other supportive politicians such as Jim Eadie MSP (SNP) and Edinburgh Council’s Transport Convener Cllr Gordon Mackenzie (LibDem).

Pedal on Parliament is happening in Scotland’s capital on the same day as a mass rally – The Big Ride – in London.   The rides aim to be the biggest ever call for conditions which make using a bike for your everyday local journeys feel the obvious, safe and enjoyable mode which it already is in countries like Denmark and the Netherlands.

Starting from an idea by a tiny handful of people from around Scotland earlier this year, Pedal on Parliament rapidly mushroomed, spurred on by the large numbers of ordinary people who feel frustrated that what should be a safe, healthy and environmentally friendly means of getting around sometimes feels the opposite.  In survey after survey, fear of traffic and road conditions comes up as the top reason for not using a bike to get around.

Whilst the Scottish Government some years ago set a bold target of 10% of all trips to be by bike in 2020, they have never set out a properly researched, costed and funded path which is likely to achieve that.  Indeed, out of every £1 of government transport spending, less than 1p goes to cycling investment – and it would have been even less without the big 2012 budget campaign by Spokes and others.  It is hard to praise the 2020 10% target until the policies and funding to achieve it are also in place!!

And most councils, sadly, follow the government lead, with half of all Scottish Councils investing zero of their own transport funds in cycling development – relying solely on whatever small ring-fenced funding they can obtain from the government or other bodies.   Edinburgh Council stands out as a beacon of hope, with its consistent investment and its recent 5% budget decision.  If the government matched that 5% with its support to council cycling investment, then Edinburgh, and other Scottish councils, would be well on the way to the government’s 2020 target.

PoP raises the heat on the Scottish Government to come up with a decent funding decision in the next budget – and to allocate more funding to cycling in the more immediate future when money becomes available from other sources, such as underspending on big transport projects.  It raises the heat on councils to match Edinburgh’s budget decision.


Pedal on Parliament has produced an excellent manifesto, calling for

    1)    Proper funding for cycling, from government and councils.
    2)    Design cycling into Scotland’s roads.
    3)    Safer speeds where people live, work and play
    4)    Integrate cycling into local transport strategies
    5)    Sensible road traffic law and enforcement
    6)    Reduce the risk of HGVs to cyclists and pedestrians
    7)    A strategic and joined-up programme of road user training
    8)    Solid research on cycling to support policy-making

Please sign the manifesto petition!   This will be handed over to politicians representing the main parties at Holyrood during the rally on April 28 – but it may remain open for signing subsequently too.


PoP has already stirred interest and controversy within the Scottish Parliament.   Spokes member Alison Johnstone MSP lodged a very powerful motion supporting PoP and its manifesto…

Motion S4M-02641: Alison Johnstone, Lothian, Scottish Green Party, Date Lodged: 18/04/2012
That the Parliament supports Pedal on Parliament’s eight-point manifesto; notes that Pedal on Parliament plans to gather at the Meadows in Edinburgh at 2 pm on Saturday 28 April 2012 and cycle en masse to the Parliament; congratulates the organisers of the event, which, it understands, will gather cyclists from across the nation to tell politicians that cycling matters, that there is a need for safer cycling and to call for a Scotland that is fit for cycling; encourages everyone who cycles in Scotland, or who would like to cycle, to join the event, with or without their bikes; believes that this event will help boost safe cycling in Scotland; welcomes the Scottish Government’s target of 10% of journeys being made by bike by 2020; regrets that less than 1% of the transport budget in Scotland is allocated to cycling infrastructure; notes that the Scottish Government’s report, Low Carbon Scotland: Meeting the Emissions Reduction Targets 2010-22, The Report on Proposals and Policies, has proposed allocating £1.32 billion over 11 years for active travel, and believes that 10% of the transport budget should be spent on active travel.

Despite the outstanding funding commitment in the motion, it has also been signed by 3 Labour MSPs, Kezia Dugdale, Neil Findlay and Helen Eadie.

Clearly no SNP MSP could sign that motion, unless they were willing publicly to disown the far lower funding decisions by their own government.  However a motion supportive of the PoP event and ‘welcoming’ its manifesto, but without commitment to funding, was then lodged by Edinburgh Central MSP Marco Biagi, and subsequently signed by a wide range of SNP MSPs, Kenneth Gibson, Margaret Burgess, Richard Lyle, Clare Adamson, David Torrance, Mike MacKenzie, Stewart Maxwell, Dennis Robertson, Jamie Hepburn, Kevin Stewart, Bob Doris, Humza Yousaf, Fiona McLeod, Colin Beattie, Bill Kidd, Gil Paterson, Aileen McLeod, Sandra White, Rob Gibson, Stuart McMillan, Annabelle Ewing, Roderick Campbell.

Motion S4M-02657: Marco Biagi, Edinburgh Central, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/04/2012
That the Parliament welcomes the Pedal on Parliament manifesto as a set of practical and helpful proposals that set out very clearly the action that it considers would result in transformational change at all levels, allowing cycling to grow and flourish in Scotland; notes the eight points in the manifesto that include ideas and solutions on road planning, speed limits and other traffic laws, transport strategies, training and funding availability; considers that Transform Scotland’s report, Civilising the Streets, has identified a strong case for road safety measures such as dedicated cycle lanes, better parking provision and reduced speed limits; calls on all levels of city planning, from government to local authorities, to ensure that the needs and safety of cyclists are always given due consideration and action; welcomes what it considers the ambitious targets set by the Scottish Government to increase the uptake of cycling by 2020, and supports the Pedal on Parliament event on 28 April 2012, which will gather at the Meadows in Edinburgh and cycle to the Scottish Parliament.

Whilst both motions are welcome, only the first calls for the funding needed to transform cycling conditions in Scotland, and give cycling a proper place in transport spending.  Please contact all your MSPs and ask them if they will sign the first motion, no. S4M-02641 by Alison Johnstone MSP.  [You have 6 or 7 MSPs, one being a constituency MSP and the others ‘list’ MSPs – write to them all using www.writetothem.com]


  • Come along on April 28!
  • Sign the manifesto petition
  • Ask all your MSPs if they will add their name to Alison Johnstone’s motion [above]
  • Tell friends, relations and colleagues about April 28 – you can download and print posters too.
  • If you take some good photos on the day, upload them to the PoP flickr site.
  • Take part in the council elections on May 3 – speak to or email your candidates, and use your vote
  • There will be a Spokes stall at the Meadows 2-3pm and possibly at the picnic after.   Please come along and say hello – and if you are a member, offer to help if needed!




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