In April I once again added my backing to the national cycling campaign, Pedal on Parliament.
On the day, more than 4,000 cyclists from across the country traveled the short distance from the Meadows to the Parliament to call for action to make Scotland a cycle friendly nation.
The annual mass cycle rally is the focal point of Pedal on Parliament’s activities and the campaign continues to make an important contribution to the cycling debate. The campaign has produced an eight point manifesto incorporating calls for improved investment in cycle facilities and more intelligent planning and road design.
In Edinburgh, the city council has made a commitment to increasing funding for cycling as part of its budget. In 2012/13, it was agreed that 5% of the transport budget would be spent on active travel. In 2014/15, this has increased to 7%.
However, despite the broad cross-party support for the Pedal on Parliament campaign’s aims, the proportion of journeys made by bike in Scotland remains around 1%. That is a long way short of the Scottish Government’s 10% target for 2020 and it is clear that more action is required.
That means tackling the barriers that prevent people from getting back in the saddle, whether it is road safety issues, inadequate infrastructure or the lack of appropriate cycle facilities such as racks and paths. On road segregated cycle lanes and good design are essential developments which are much-needed in our towns and cities.
There are examples of good practice such as the National Cycle Network but more needs to be done to link these national routes to local facilities.
Although Minister Keith Brown spoke at the rally – his announcement of £4.5m wasn’t new money and was disappointing to cycle campaigners.
The turnout at Pedal on Parliament sends a clear message that people want more action on cycling. We need to learn from other countries that have a strong cycling culture to address the barriers that exist. Thanks to the work of Pedal on Parliament, people are beginning to sit up and take notice. The challenge for the Scottish Government now is to turn the broad support into action.