Edinburgh: Pedal on Parliament

Ride level Beginner cyclist
Distance 1 mi / 2 km
Type of bicycle Any
Traffic free
Circular route
Pedal on Parliament

Sally Hinchcliffe is a Cycling UK member and also Convenor of Cycling Dumfries, a Cycling UK affiliate group campaigning for better conditions for active travel in Dumfries. As well as helping to organise Pedal on Parliament (POP) she helps co-ordinate We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote alongside Cycling UK’s Suzanne Forup, and founded the Women’s Cycle Forum Scotland.

This is a short route but one of huge significance for cyclists (and pedestrians) in Scotland. Starting in 2012, Pedal on Parliament (supported from the start by Cycling UK in Scotland) has been running a grassroots mass bike ride from the Meadows to the Scottish Parliament right through the historic heart of Edinburgh.

On an ordinary day in Edinburgh - dodging buses on the George IV Bridge - it can be a bit stressful to cycle, although the cobbled descent down the Royal Mile does give you views of the Firth of Forth on a clear day. But during the annual Pedal on Parliament the route is transformed - a traffic-free mass of thousands of joyful, bell-ringing cyclists and marchers, on every pedal-powered form of transport around, from babes in arms to dapper elderly gents and ladies in tweed. Since its start, POP - and other campaigning efforts - have seen the money invested in active travel in Scotland more than double, having been under threat of cuts in 2012. It is a demonstration in both senses: a political gathering and tangible proof that cycling in Scotland could be for everyone, if only the conditions were right.

It has changed the conversation around cycling, among cycling and in the corridors of power, and all on the back of the efforts of a handful of dedicated volunteers.