How many times a week, or even day do we hear that word. It's important to do this...it's important to do that....This event is important you must go to this....and so on.
Important is a word that these days doesn't seem important. Too many things are important.
So it has been each year when I write a blog asking people to come to Pedal on Parliament. Every year it has been important. The first year because... well... because it was the first! The second because we had to prove it wasn't a one off. The third, as we wanted to build a head of steam. The forth as we needed to keep up the pressure.
Here we are now at POP 5 and....I'm not going to tell you it is important. Quite simply it isn't. The truth is that this POP is far too important for that word. This is without a doubt the most important...ahem....of all.
This POP is absolutely, categorically, significantly, VITAL!!! Attendance is salient, paramount and essential!
(Yes I did look for synonyms of important!)
If you only ever come to one POP, this is the one!!! Seriously!!
Here we are only a few weeks away from the Scottish election. For the first time parties are starting to put spending commitments into their manifestos. For example the greens are committed to 10% of the transport budget. Brilliant! The other parties are making promises too, even the conservatves have for the first time committed some cash (a tiny £5m, but they have never committed anything before!).
I don't think we can say for certain that POP has made a difference on any particular issue, but I honestly think we wouldn't be looking at these promises if we hadn't had POP.
I also hear from various political insiders (including politicians themselves) that POP has had a huge impact in political circles. Active travel is on the agenda here in Scotland.
Despite this I still hear people say to me:
Och, I've been to POP before, so I don't need to go again.
What's the point, nothing ever changes. Politicians don't listen...
No!!!!! They absolutely do listen. Sure, they only listen when it becomes politically useful to listen, but right now is one such time. They are listening!!
How do I know this? Well, here we are with the Scottish election looming. Party leaders have lots to do. They have to be out winning every vote. They won't come to POP, will they...?
Oh yes they will!
We already have firm commitments from leader of the Greens, Patrick Harvie, and leader of the Lib Dems, Willie Rennie. We also have a promise from the leader of Labour, Kezia Dougdale to come along barring any last minute issue. She has after all been to every POP so far! Are you listening Ruth Davidson!?!
What about the SNP? Well, OK, we don't have a commitment from Nicola Sturgeon.....yet.....but we do have the Transport Minister Derek Mackay coming, so that's not too bad!
We have many other politicians coming as well. They have all made the decision that active travel is too important not to attend. Yes, ok, we have't got what we want yet, but at least they are listening.
Listening though, is only half of the story. To listen there has to be something to listen to, and that is exactly where you come in. We need your voice, we need your noise, we need your banners, we need your enthusiasm, we need your friends.....
We need YOU!!!!
Don't have a bike? Not a problem. Come and walk with us. In fact, it is people without bikes....those who currently don't cycle, that this is all about. It's about making cycling safe and convenient for people who currently don't cycle.
It'll never happen.....bah humbug......etc....
Oh really? We just need to look to London, and the small baby steps they are taking. Something amazing is happening there. Sure it is only in small pockets, but this is happening....
No, that isn't Amsterdam, that is London. Seriously. Videos and pictures just like that are starting to pop up everywhere demonstrating that even in the political hotbed of London it is possible! Yes, it takes time and it has taken time in London (they have been fighting for infrastructure like this from before I started campaigning...), but persistence has paid off, and it can and will here too.
There are already early signs of a cycling spring, you just have to look hard....
So get yer bike out, or your walking shoe on (or your skateboard, your wheelchair, your adapted bike etc....). This Saturday do your bit to make a difference.
Come to Pedal on Parliament this Saturday (23rd April) at the Meadows in Edinburgh, just before noon. Join us on our journey to parliament. Listen to the speeches. Talk to the politicians.
Help us.........make Scotland a cycle friendly country!!!