Monday 30 April 2012

Pedal on Parliament: A Thank You

I've just about settled down after Pedal on Parliament (POP). I'm not the first to say it, but I feel I need to say it to...


Cyclists as far as the eye can see

Yup. that just about sums up my feelings about POP. It was amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Just over a couple of months ago, myself and a group of cyclists got together online and thought, why not. Why not see if we can do something. Let's see if we can get a few hundred cyclists together to put some pressure on our MSPs and councillors to take cycling more seriously. We didn't have any experience of organising an event, but we had lots of enthusiasm, so we ploughed in head first and did what we could.

Here I am now, literally gob-smacked by what happened. We didn't have a few hundred cyclists, we had a few thousand! Not only that, but we had bikes of all shapes and sizes, we had cyclists of all shapes and sizes, and most importantly we had families and young children.  The message is quite clear. Our politicians, local and national need to listen to what we have to say. We, and by we I mean you the cyclists of Scotland, now have a strong voice that can't be ignored.

It's going to take me a good few blogs to say everything I want to say about this event. However, the most important thing just now is for me to to say thank you. Quite a few folk have personally said well done to me. I've had a few comments from people along the lines of, 'this wouldn't have happened if you hadn't started this back in February.' They may well be correct. However, there is a huge long list of people, groups and institutions whom, without their support and help, this wouldn't have happened.

Firstly, it wouldn't have happened without the core POP team. It happened because of (in no particular order!) Sally Hinchliffe, Kim Harding, Andy Arthur, Anthony Robson, Sara Dorman, Dave du Feu, and Alan Munro.We have been so lucky to have such a diverse team. Not only are we all different types of cyclists, we have different skill sets and different ideas. It shouldn't have worked but it did. That's what happens when everyone has a clear goal and an excellent manifesto to work towards. I'll write more about the core team when the dust settles a bit more.

It wouldn't have happened without the army of helpers, online and offline. We have had tremendous support from volunteers who have done jobs varying from bike flyering (often in the cold and wet) to supplying equipment, offering advice etc. We have also had significant support online, with many people blogging about us, tweeting about us, facebooking about us and generally getting the message out in any way they could. If they hadn't done that it might just have been the core POP members who turned up! A special thanks also goes to the members of the CityCyclingEdinburgh forum. Right from the start they have offered sound advice and opinion. They even helped us shape our manifesto and at the very, VERY last minute got hold of a PA system at Holyrood! Thanks Ruggtomcat.

We have also had significant support from various organisations without which this wouldn't have happened. Two deserve a special mention CTC Scotland and Spokes. Not only did they both support us, but they provided us with our leaflets and spoke cards that helped spread the word. It is very much appreciated. We also had the official support of Go-Bike, Cycling Embassy of Great Britain, Transform Scotland and citycycling.We had the unofficial support of many others.

It might not have happened had Mark Beaumont not believed in what we are doing. He hasn't supported a campaign like ours before, but he like our positive approach. Something that we hope to continue. We also had support from Sir Chris Hoy and Graeme Obree. Having three such incredible ambassadors for cycling on our side was a major boost to the campaign. Many thanks!

Doing what I enjoy the most! (Courtesy of Richard Pelling, rxpell on flickr)

It might have been a local Edinburgh event, had we not had the feeder rides from all around the country. This demonstrated that this was a national issue and not a local issue. Thank you to all those who organised these rides led them and came on them! I hear the headwind was a killer on the Glasgow ride. Glad I came by car the day before!

It wouldn't have happened if the media had not taken an interest. Yes we had social media covered, but a lot of people still live in the real world, and we needed to get the message out to them. In fact a large part of the success of this event stems from a significant change in the media's approach to cycling. We have supporters in many media outlets. They did a great job of spreading the word.

This wouldn't have happened had the council not let it happen! I have to thank them for their help, even when it looked as if there might be some difficulties with the date. They helped us through that and did all they could to smooth the journey. Many thanks!

It might have happened, but it would have been a disaster without Lothian and Borders finest. The police which were faced with a significantly larger number of cyclists than any of us imagined, did themselves proud. They coped admirably under pressure and kept their sense of humour throughout. I tip my helmet to you, well done!

It might not have happened if we had not gained support of politicians. This was and remains the whole point. It is the politicians who have the actual power to effect the changes we are looking for. We have a number of supporters in most of the main parties. However, we still need to work to increase our support especially with regards to investment. Special thanks must got to Alison Johnstone and Marco Biagi for publishing supportive motions. Alison also used one of the green parties precious debates to discuss cycling. The first time a debate had focussed on cycling in Holyrood. Lets hope it's not the last.

Only two more two go and in my mind they are the most important.

I wish that Lynne and Ian McNicoll weren't at POP. I wish they hadn't even heard about it, perhaps they might have heard about it, but only because Andrew told them about it. Unfortunately, that is not the case as Lynne's step son, Ian's son, Andrew was killed earlier this year whilst cycling on the road. A tragic loss of life. They decided that to honour Andrew, they would campaign for safer cycling for everyone. An amazing approach to their grief. They have been inspirational to the POP team and have done a huge amount to spread the word about us. For that we are truly grateful.
I had the honour of cycling next to Lynne and Ian and was with them during the moments silence and the following bell ringing. It was a very emotional and powerful moment that I will never forget. Thank you for that.

Finally, this would never have happened if it wasn't for you. For the 3000 or so men, women, children and occasional lobsters that turned up to Pedal on Parliament. Thank you all. You came in large numbers you had fun and behaved impeccably. You were an amazing advert for cycling as well as a wake up call for Scotland's politicians.

Starting from an e-mail on the 24th February and ending up with 3000+ cyclists on the streets of Edinburgh on the 28th April has been an extraordinary journey, but unlike the epic journey that Mark Beaumont took around the world it is not the journey that is most important, it is the destination.

One day I do believe we will get there and Scotland will be a a cycle friendly nation.


  1. It was an experience I won't forget cycling with so many others from the Meadows to Parliament. Well done on the organisation and the way in which so many turned out.

    I hope Saturday is just the start and politicians take cycling seriously for once.

  2. It was a most amazing day. I've never had so much fun as flying down the Royal Mile on the front of a semi recumbent tandem with my guitar singing "Get On Your Bike".

    Once the dust has settled, perhaps the next step is a day where we all pedal on our respective council offices, since they are the ones responsible for local roads.

  3. Good work, Dave.