Today at noon the fifth annual mass cycle ride, “Pedal on Parliament”, will set off from the Meadows to head towards the Scottish Parliament. Thousands of people are expected to cycle and walk to Holyrood to demand increased funding and support for active travel. Attendees want the Scottish Government and local authorities to create the safer road environments that will enable more far people to be able to take up greener transport.

Air Pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland Emilia Hanna said,

“For the fifth year running, people of all ages and abilities, from all across Scotland will unite on their bikes and by foot to demand safer walking and cycling. Pedal on Parliament is one of the largest demonstrations that has been held outside the Scottish Parliament. This is a hugely impressive feat for an event organised by a small but dedicated group of volunteers and shows just that safety in walking and cycling really matters for the people in Scotland. With the elections coming up in under two weeks, this year’s Pedal on Parliament is more important than ever.

“Pedal on Parliament is vital for getting action on Scotland’s air pollution problem. We know that improving cycle infrastructure is vital in the fight against air pollution, which is responsible for over 2,500 deaths in Scotland each year. Most of this pollution comes from cars so it is crucial that Scottish Government takes urgent action to get far more of us on our bikes.

“For decades, our transport system has been literally and figuratively squeezing cycling off the road. Pedal on Parliament is the Scottish public demanding/asking that cycling be given the space and support it deserves.”

Currently, the set-up and financing of Scotland’s transport system is overwhelmingly skewed towards cars. The most recent Scottish Budget committed to £820 million next year on building trunk roads and motorways versus just £41 million on improving walking and cycling paths. Active travel receives just 2% of the overall transport budget.

Hanna continued,
“The Scottish Government needs to take the stabilizers off their approach to cycling and put far more energy and resources into supporting the growing numbers of who want to travel on two wheels.

“The next Scottish Government has got to get it right on transport and make it easier for people to walk, cycle and use public transport. Continuing to pour billions into road building will cost us far more in the long run through toxic air pollution, increased congestion, carbon emissions and an inactive, unhealthy population.

“While there is growing enthusiasm for cycling in Scotland, we know that nationwide just under 2% of all trips are by bike. The next Government must put its money where its mouth is and spend 10% of its transport budget on walking and cycling to help deliver a future where our we can breathe clean air and Scotland plays its part in tackling climate change.”

“Edinburgh Council has been increasing its spending on active travel year on year and as a result cycling rates have soared. The next Scottish Government must follow suit and candidates for the May elections should support the call for 10% of future transport budgets to go to walking and cycling.”

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery commented:
“I am delighted that players of People’s Postcode Lottery are supporting work to clean up Scotland's air by promoting cycling and walking. Pedal on Parliament will help spread the word about the health and social benefits of active travel and encourage more people to take them up.”

You can view an album of photos from the event on Flickr here 

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. Pedal on Parliament is organised by a group of volunteers. For more information and links to their manifesto: http://pedalonparliament.org

2. Air pollution is responsible for over 2500 deaths in Scotland each year: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/RCP-Report

3. The Scottish Government this year will spend under 2% of its transport budget on walking and cycling. The Association for the Directors of Public Health and several other organisations are calling for 10% of transport budgets to be spent on walking and cycling so as to encourage greater uptake of these modes of transport. http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/budget-reaction-2016

4. Friends of the Earth Scotland is
* Scotland's leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups.
www.foe-scotland.org.uk

5. Friends of the Earth’s work to clean up Scotland’s air by encouraging increased cycling and walking is supported by the players of the Postcode Lottery.

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