Monday 8 October 2012

Now is the Write Time

Back in April the cyclists and potential cyclists of Scotland made a statement. A very clear, bold statement.

It's time to make Scotland a cycle friendly nation.

There can be no doubt that politicians sat up and took note. Since then the organising group of POP have been invited to the All Party Cycling Group, we have had personal discussions with Keith Brown, we have been invited to give evidence to parliamentary committees and we have in discussions with politicians from all sides of the divide.

We aren't alone in making progress of course, other organisations and individuals are working tirelessly as well for the same aims, but there can be no doubt that the event in April opened many doors. Yes, we at POP central can take some credit for organising the event, however, the real power comes not from us, but from you. It was because you turned up in huge numbers that we gained a seat at the table.

We are now at a critical point in our campaign. Politicians have started the process of setting out parliaments budget for the next financial year.

Budgets, financial settlements, funding, balance sheets? Boring isn't it?!

Far from it.

To get Scotland cycling needs money. It needs investment, and anyone who cycles at the moment will tell you, it needs significant funding. The government has announced £6m of extra funding this year. Unfortunately, this (split over two years and further split over different projects) is but a drop in the ocean. We have quite clearly stated what the funding needs are, with cycling needing 5% oft he transport budget (about £100m) a year to start the process of transforming our streets.

Yes, that's a lot of money, but small change compared to some of the huge spends on some infrastructure projects planned over the next few years. As it stands cycling is still not viewed as a serious mode of transport by our politicians.

It doesn't have to be like that, and with your help it won't be.

We need you to write to your politicians. 

There are two things that politicians take note of. Large demonstrations is one of them. We've done that. They also take note of letters from constituents. In fact it is often said that for every letter that a politician receives with a particular view expressed, suggests that at least 10 other constituents feel the same way. So every time someone writes a letter to an MSP, it multiplies 10 fold. Letters are powerful.

Therefore, we are asking you to PLEASE write to your MSP. You can do it very easily here. Tell them how passionate you are about cycling. Tell them if you don't feel safe enough to cycle. Tell them that you would love your children to cycle, you could even get your children to write to them!

Make your voice heard.

We have an opportunity here and now, to change Scotland, be it independent or part of the British isles, for the better. However, we cannot do it alone. We need you and your voice, just as we needed you out on the streets of Edinburgh.

I've written to my local and regional MSPs and I've copied the e-mail I have sent below. However, use your own words. You don't need to say much, just let them know what you want them to do.

With your help, we can make Scotland a cycle friendly nation.

As you may be aware I am one of the organisers of Pedal on Parliament (, which is a grass roots movement that is asking for the Scottish government to make cycling safe for all. Our manifesto ( among other things, asks for a step changing in funding for cycling. Investment in cycling is not only necessary to make our roads safer and to get more people of all ages cycling, but also necessary to help the government reach its target of 10% of journeys by bike by 2020. 

Our manifesto not only gained the support of 3000+ cyclists, of all ages and walks of life at our event in April, it has also gained the support of many other cycling organisations, a growing number of politicians and a number of Scotland’s more famous cycling heroes.  Mark Beamont, Graeme Obree and Sir Chris Hoy all encouraged people to join our campaign to make Scotland’s roads safe for all. In fact Sir Chris Hoy has gone further, and in his recent interview with the Herald he said,

“It's not just for one reason either, such as cutting down on road congestion or reducing carbon emissions. It's about the obesity issue and improving people's health. It's a social issue, too….. It's about making cycling an easier and more pleasant thing to do. If you make things easy then people will do it…. creating clear bike lanes that are actually meaningful and not just a bit of paint on the side of the road which other road users aren't really aware of.”

Sir Chris, is absolutely right. The benefits of cycling are wide ranging. Scotland has significant issues with pollution and carbon emissions. Glasgow for example has been cited recently as one of the most polluted cites in Europe. ( Cycling can play a significant role in reducing these emissions.

Our roads are also congested as I often experience myself on my daily commute through Glasgow ( Research has shown that if only 10% of these cars were replaced by cyclists the roads would flow freely again.

Glasgow and the West of Scotland have serious issues with obesity, diabetes and heart disease.  It is widely accepted that sedentary lifestyles are a root cause and that cycling, as a mode of transport and recreation, could play a significant role in improving our nations health.

Social deprivation is also a significant issue in the West of Scotland. With 30% of households not having access to a car, opening up our roads to safe cycling provides new opportunities in these areas, as well as helping the local economy with cyclists tending to spend their money locally benefiting the local economy.

In the economic climate that we find ourselves in money is tight. Spending needs to be focused in areas that provide the greatest benefits. The economic benefits of cycling are significant. It has been shown in rigorous studies that the benefit to cost ratio for investing in cycling in the UK is 19:1. Spending on cycling is investing in the health and prosperity of Scotland.

The evidence in favour of investing in Scotland’s cycle infrastructure is substantial, and is detailed here in our parliamentary budget submission ( However, without a significant step changing in funding above what is currently proposed in the draft budget, we will miss this opportunity for a true Golden Legacy from the Olympic and Commonwealth games.

Please could you do everything in your power to ensure that cycling does receive the required step change in funding in this years budget. With your help we could make Scotland a healthy, happy and prosperous cycle friendly nation.  

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