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Transport minister to 'face critics' at Pedal on Parliament for first time

Transport minister to 'face critics' at Pedal on Parliament for first time

Transport minister Keith Brown is to 'face his critics' and attend the Pedal on Parliament protest in Edinburgh on Saturday.

Keith Brown's announcement came on Friday, just hours after announcing a funding boost for bike training.

Cycle campaigners behind Pedal on Parliament have welcomed Mr Brown's decision to attend the rally, describing it as a 'big' move.

It's the first year the minister has attended the protest, and indicates the campaign's growing clout.

Last year an estimated 4000 cyclists attended the ride from Holyrood to the Meadows.

Around 24-hours before tomorrow's event, the Scottish Government announced a further £4.5m funding boost, earmarked for training children thoughout Scotland in cycling safety.

The newly announced cash adds to the £20m announced by Holyrood towards cycle infrastructure in September and the total spend in the 2014/15 budget year to approximately £32.1m.

However, this figure is projected to decline in the following year, and remains a small proportion of the overall transport budget.

It's far below the level many campaigners claim is needed if the government is to meet its own targets to boost cycle journeys and reduce CO2 emissions.

Transport minister Keith Brown said: “I am pleased to allocate further funding to Cycling Scotland to further promote cycling in Scotland over the next two years.

"This is in addition to the £20m we announced last September towards cycling infrastructure.

"Reducing carbon emissions and teaching our young people to cycle safely are two areas where we need to focus effort on.

“This funding is the largest amount ever to be allocated to Cycling Scotland and will help to deliver our commitment to the shared vision as reiterated in the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland 2013, that by 2020 10% of all journeys will be by bike."

Pedal on Parliament campaigners said they were delighted by the minister's willingness to "stand by his own policies in person."

In a statement, the group said: "It takes a big man (or woman) to face their critics directly.

"By agreeing to attend Pedal on Parliament today, Transport Minister Keith Brown has shown himself to be someone who will stand by his own policies in person, and we salute him for that.

"We’re delighted to have him come and hear for himself what PoP supporters want and what will make them and their families feel safe cycling on Scotland’s roads."

However the group sounded a skeptical note over the value of the new cash announcement.

They added: "While we welcome the fact that more money will be announced today for cycling – we would contend that educating children to cycle on the road is not the best use of money, compared with starting to invest in a cycling network where they can actually be safe, and more importantly feel safe, as they get around on two wheels.

"There’s no training in the world that will guarantee a child’s safety around HGVs and fast-moving cars – and as long as children need to mix in traffic to ride their bikes, then parents will be reluctant to give them the freedom to ride."

Arriving from all over Scotland

Pedal on Parliament cyclists meet at 12 noon in the Meadows, where a minute's silence will be observed to remember all the cyclists that have been killed on Scotland's roads. The silence is followed by a cycle ride through the Old Town which ends outside the Holyrood parliament.

This year, there will even be a group of people who have pledge to 'pedestrian on parliament,' aiming to encourage those who support the campaign but are unable to cycle to participate.

A series of 'feeder rides' have been organised to help people who may not be confident cycling get to the protest. There are several leaving from different parts of Edinburgh, including Leith, Portobello, North Edinburgh, Harrison Park, the Braidburn Valley, Musselburgh, and the Water of Leith Visitors Centre.

There are also feeder rides leaving from further flung places including Glasgow, Kirkcaldy, Linlithgow and Peebles.

Travel restrictions

If you're planning on travelling around the city centre on Saturday, a bike might well be the best way to get around. Here are details of the road closures and parking restrictions that will be put in place as a consequence of the protest.

Will you be at the ride? Get in touch with us to share your photos of the event.

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