How to plan a cycling protest demo – the POP Pedal on Parliament 2014 event in Edinburgh

It is good to have
– scenic drama, with the route planned by a landscape architect
– emotional music, planned by a musical director and extending along the whole route
– a persuasive narrative, with speeches by children, activists and politicians
– good co-opration from the police
– jokes, fun and glamour
– good supporting information on a website, with facts, figures and international comparisons
And it’s good to reflect that ‘Power must be taken, it is never given’. (William Powell)
The 2013 London bicycle die-in was good on music and drama but not so good on speeches.
The 2014 POP Pedal On Parliament in Edinburgh was good in all respects.

10 thoughts on “How to plan a cycling protest demo – the POP Pedal on Parliament 2014 event in Edinburgh

  1. Robert Holden

    Good to see lots of young children. Pity there was no SNP speaker, and a pity it did not end at Holyrood with a petition or report on the year’s progress being handed in. One thing about being in Istanbul for a little, is to realise the value of such peaceful popular demonstrations, I doubt whether the Turkish police would ever permit such a demonstration.

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      Sorry the video did not make it clear – but Keith Brown MSP and Minister of Transport is also a member of the SNP. I agree that pro-cycling demonstrators should follow Mahatma Gandhi rather than Kemal Attaturk. Soldiers (and priests) should keep out of politics. Egypt is a great example of what goes wrong when you try to general a country.

  2. Christine

    Perhaps organizing a great cycling debate might be a useful and fun way to explore the issue? You could have pro-cycling and anti-cycling teams to really explore in depth the negatives and positives of cycling and the current state of infrastructure provision.

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      My impression is that the pro-cycling camp, with some exceptions, are relatively unassertive and unargumentative. The anti-cycling camp, perhaps because there are more motorists, has many more militants. They feel they have enough to put up with already and cyclists are reducing their lebensraum. So a debate would probaby be between quiet reasonable cyclists and impassioned unreasoning motorists. But it is still a good idea.

  3. Christine

    I am not sure how car drivers have come to consider themselves as superior to cyclists? Perhaps that idea needs to be challenged also. Beyond the notion that car driving is better than cycling, there is then the relational question. If car driving is the superior choice – how does this rationally lead to policies that disrespect cyclists?

    If there is some idea that it is environmentally difficult for car drivers already and that cyclists only make drivers lives more difficult, it might be a good place to start with ideas on how to make car drivers lives better (by cyclists) and ideas on how to make cyclists lives better (by car drivers).

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      In the UK the reason is that Road Fund from 1920 until 1937 the excise duty on cars went into a Road Fund, hypothecated to roads. Drivers got into the habit of call the tax disc a payment of ‘Road Tax’ and continue to think they pay for roads and other users are freeloading. By extension, they think fuel tax is used for roads. Weird but true!
      Yes also to your second point, drivers feel cars are slowing them up and making their lives more difficult. It would indeed be a good idea to make all drivers obtain a Bike Riding License before moving up to a Car Driving License, and to include questions on cycle safety, cyclists rights etc in the driving test.

  4. Christine

    How did you divide your time between the red tricycle and the red car? Is your current bicycle also red?

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      Unlike adults, I started in the car and moved to the trike when older. Then came my first bike: in sky blue and from a second hand shop. My present bike (a Brompton) is not TOO different but is chippy rust coloured to deter thieves.


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