Press release: Inverness mass cycle ride calls for action on infrastructure
Pictures by Phil Hindell, Donald McColl and John Davidson
Inverness hosted its first Pedal on Parliament ride at the weekend, calling for cycling to be made a realistic choice for people of all ages in the city.
Streets were mobbed with riders and walkers, from young children riding their first pedal bikes to more experienced cyclists, all wanting to see better provision for active travel.
An estimated 120 people set off from Bellfield Park, adding colour and character to the city on a range of vehicles, including recumbents, tricycles, tandems and tag-alongs.
They included a feeder ride from North Kessock, organised by Transition Black Isle.
After crossing the Ness Bridge and riding down Ness Walk past the cathedral, the Pedal on Parliament (PoP) campaigners made for the riverside near Eden Court, where speakers demanded more action on safe cycling in Inverness.
Highlands and Islands Green MSP John Finnie backed PoP’s eight manifesto pledges, arguing that money is available to spend on transport projects, as the £3 billion dualling of the A96 between Inverness and Aberdeen proves.
He said: “Money is no problem, absolutely no problem. If we can spend £6 billion on two roads – the A9 and the A96 – then the very modest sums that are required to have a proper and safe cycle infrastructure shouldn’t be a challenge. It’s all about priorities.
“The Scottish Government has commendable targets when they talk about the number of everyday journeys taken by bike but as configured at the moment that budget will not facilitate them reaching any of their targets.
“It’s not just about ticking a box. We know that cycling is so important in terms of climate change, low emissions, low noise, little space required, and it has a ringing endorsement from all the directors of public health.
“Government policy is very largely shaped by the motoring industry without due regard to active travel, including public transport. Significant sums of money go towards road building and all we’re going to do is make people drive more. You build more roads, people drive on them; it’s as simple as that.
“What we need is separation, separate space for cycling.”
Anne Thomas, of Transition Black Isle, a group which was behind a “million miles” project to reduce car use on the peninsula north of Inverness, warned that climate change was happening now.
She said: “We’ve really got to step up and do something about it, so thank you for showing our politicians that there are a lot of people concerned about this.
“We want to make sure that we spend a lot more on cycling and walking infrastructure. We’ve been cycling around the Netherlands and some of the cities there have 60 per cent of journeys by bike. We’ve got nearly six per cent in Inverness – we could do a lot better but we need the infrastructure.
“Currently the Scottish Government spends around 1.6 per cent of the transport budget on walking and cycling – we want at least 10 per cent so we can really make it an easy choice for people to walk or cycle.”
The Highland Cycle Campaign also backed the PoP event, which was organised by Inverness cyclist Mark Falconer.
Brian Mackenzie, convener of the cycle campaign, said: “We in the Highland Cycle Campaign are doing our bit locally in the Highlands and particularly in Inverness. I’m happy today because you’ve all turned up.
“You’ve made history, now it’s time to make the future.”
Mr Falconer urged people to contact their politicians, as well as candidates in the upcoming council elections, to show how much demand there is for better cycling provision.
He said: “I’m delighted with the way the day went and can’t thank everyone enough for the support shown as we push to make Inverness Scotland’s true cycling city.”
The city’s first PoP ride coincided with rides around Scotland, with Edinburgh and Aberdeen events also taking place on Saturday and a Glasgow ride on Sunday.
Organisers plan to bring Pedal on Parliament back to Inverness in 2018.