I’m sorry I didn’t take my camera to the Pedal on Parliament event yesterday. It started in the Meadows, and the lines of cyclists under the avenues of cherry blossom were a splendid sight. The police estimate for numbers was 2500. Spokes estimate 3000.
There are some great copy-proof pictures on Flickr.
It was a bright day with a freezing north east wind, and the clothes you wear for cycling are not the warmest ones for standing around in waiting for the pedal march to begin. All ages there – small kids on cycles with stabilisers, smaller ones on bike seats or in buggy-trailers. Bikes of every descriptions – old roadsters, mountain bikes, racers, unicycles and tandems for three. People in smart, sponsor-logoed club clothing or in tweed suits, though of course day glo yellow cycling jackets predominated. Then through the Meadows, and down the Royal Mile. To the motorists we must have been their nightmare – the contemptible speed-impediments bunched together, in huge numbers. To me, used to being a minority on the literal fringes when cycling through the streets, it was heartening to be in the mainstream for once and part of a dominating majority.
Then down to Holyrood. The grass area below the new Scottish parliament is a good area for rallies – it’s spacious, and also sheltered from the wind.
The politicians who addressed us had won clout for their activities on behalf of cycling. One stressed that they were not talking about “funding for” but “investment in” cycling – that is, cycling is not an add on, but as an integral part of transport and the economy in general. Others (I didn’t note who said what) evoked Stockholm and Scotland’s climate change measures.
In Edinburgh cycling has increased from 1% to 7% of road use and it has been assigned 5% of the transport budget. Pressure from local groups like Spokes, along with some effective councillors, have made a great difference. My naked eye has seen far more cyclists commuting and, as a spin-off, more cycle shops opening. Near where I work two more have opened in the last year. I’d say there were six within easy pushing-your-cycle distance.