Cycling campaigners call on government to improve cycling infrastructure as Pedal on Parliament returns next week

20 April 2019

Riders on their way to parliament at last year’s event. Photograph: Chris Hill

The format has changed this year to incorporate community led projects all over Scotland

Cyclists will fill the streets of Glasgow and Scotland as Pedal on Parliament (PoP) returns next Friday for the eighth edition of its annual campaign – with more events than ever planned for this year.

The campaign which began in 2012, will see demonstrations and events in most major cities in the country as cyclists in the capital descend onto parliament to demand better cycling infrastructure.

The event, which traditionally involves a mass cycle ride to Holyrood from The Meadows area in Edinburgh, has expanded in recent years to encompass rides originating in Aberdeen, Inverness and Glasgow.

One of the most common issues cyclists face is motorists entering spaces reserved for cyclists. Photograph: Calam Pengilly

Sally Hinchcliffe, one of the organisers for PoP, said “This year we’re taking rather a different approach to PoP – rather than the mass ride on the Scottish Parliament, we’re encouraging local groups and individuals to run their own ‘pop up Pops’”

On the importance of the event she said:

“There’s a mountain of evidence that enabling people to cycle for journeys of 1-5 miles will have huge benefits for everyone. We’ve got an obesity crisis in Scotland, especially among children, we’ve got poor air quality, we’re not cutting carbon emissions from transport at all, we’re spending billions on roads that will only end up causing more congestion in the end. We’ve got people in transport poverty who have to rely on poor bus services or maintain a car just to get to work.”

There are 20 demonstrations planned so far and several of those events are due to take place in the Greater Glasgow area.

There will be a human bike lane on Cumbernauld Road in North East Glasgow which will see members of the public linking arms to form a makeshift cycle lane to protect those using it.

Similar tactics were used by the Strathclyde cycling campaigners Gobike Glasgow for their Paint is not Protection campaign, most recently along University Avenue in the west end of Glasgow in February.

Mini campaigner at PoP last year. Photograph: Isers Malone

Protesters will be handing out ‘tickets to cars parked in cycle lanes on Ayr Road in East Renfrewshire to highlight the need for improvements along the A77, specifically calling for the East Renfrewshire council to either turn the current cycle lane there into a segregated lane or to designate it as a mandatory cycle lane meaning that cars can’t legally pass into them.

In Cambuslang, there will be a stretch of cycle lane near the old Hoover factory that will be protected by household hoovers as campaigners aim to highlight the lack of protection from passing traffic.

And in Milngavie, people are being encouraged to bring their teddy bears a long for a ride that will take in phase one of the uncompleted Bears Way.

The Bears Way project was abandoned three years ago after local councillors voted not to extend it.

The Milngavie Herald reported that in October of last year a man suffered a broken hip, after he was knocked off of his bike by a motorist on the exact stretch of road that phase two had been planned for.

According to PoP the incomplete route is a real danger for members of the public.

“Last year we felt the impact of the uncompleted Bears Way when someone cycling was hit by a dangerous driver on the very stretch phase 2 was meant to be. If the protected cycle path was built then they would not have needed to share the same space with this dangerous individual.” They said.

Research published on 11 April 2019 in the Accident Analysis and Prevention journal shows that painted lanes, far from giving cyclists more protection, actually encourage drivers to pass closer. For the study 60 riders were fitted with a box that monitored how close traffic passed them, more than 18,500 passing events were recorded. It found that on average, cars passed 40cm closer to cyclists on roads with cycle lanes than those without.

Dr. Ben Beck, lead author of the report which came out of Australia’s Monash University said “Our results demonstrate that a single stripe of white paint does not provide a safe space for people who ride bikes.”

A view which sally Hinchcliffe shares: “There’s no point putting money into painted lanes on the road, we’ve got to see high-quality provision along the lines of Dutch or Danish cycling infrastructure. Otherwise cycling will continue to be confined to those fit enough and brave enough to ride on busy roads alongside heavy traffic.”

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said:

“The Scottish Government continues to maintain record funding for active and sustainable transport. We have invested over £217 million into active travel since the start of the 2011 spending review, including this year, and we have doubled the active travel budget from £39m to £80m a year from 2018-2019.”

“With this funding, our focus will be on making our towns and cities safer and friendlier with more segregated infrastructure where appropriate, making improvements to the public realm and putting people and place before the movement of motorised vehicles. This boost in investment will allow us to continue to build an Active Nation, ensuring that as many people as possible can enjoy the environmental and health benefits of active travel.” They added.

As the weekend approaches more events will be added on the PoP website which can be accessed here.

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