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23 April 2016, 07:31
Campaigners for a better and safer cycling network across Scotland are to stage their biggest demonstration yet.
Pedal on Parliament (PoP) will see thousands of cyclists converge on the streets of Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
Leaders of the group are calling for 10% of the Scottish Government's transport budget to be invested in active travel, and they also want to see improved safety and access for cyclists.
The Edinburgh part of the demonstration will be led by a tandem club from Fife that pairs visually-impaired stokers with sighted captains. They will leave the Meadows at midday and cycle to the Scottish Parliament to call for greater investment.
Political party leaders Kezia Dugdale, Willie Rennie and Patrick Harvie as well as Transport Minister Derek Mackay are expected to join the event.
The mass ride is now in its fifth year and has encouraged the Scottish government to reverse planned cuts and increase investment in infrastructure for safe cycling, organisers say.
Denise Marshall said: "PoP is a fun, family-friendly event but with a serious purpose. When PoP started, cycling and active travel were barely on the agenda, with regular cuts to funding.
"Now, the Scottish Government likes to boast that it's spending record amounts on active travel - whilst cutting funding for local authorities to spend on cycling and walking.
"Without proper investment, cycling will never reach the levels set by the Scottish Government's own Cycling Action Plan of 10% of journeys by bike.
"We hope that, with the election looming, our politicians will realise that now is the time to do what the majority of Scots have said they support and invest in proper cycle tracks that suit not just young fit cyclists, but groups like the Talking Tandems.''
Emilia Hanna, from Friends of the Earth Scotland, said the event is ``more important than ever this year'' with only weeks until the Holyrood election.
"We know that improving cycle infrastructure is a key component of the fight against air pollution, which is responsible for over 2,500 deaths in Scotland each year,'' Ms Hanna said.
"Most of this pollution comes from cars so it is crucial the 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 that cycling be given the space and support it deserves.''