Pedal on Parliament

I was there!

2012-04-28 14.51.33

April 28th: Over 3,000 gathered at the Meadows in Edinburgh for the biggest cycle protest ever seen in Scotland, matching protests in London, Rome and elsewhere,  in support of safer cycling and cities fit for people. I am sure there were more than the police estimate of 3,000 – there were cyclists as far as the eye could see, wave upon wave stretching down the entire Royal Mile, ringing bells, tooting horns, and yelling “Bollards!” in warning as the electronic traffic control devices rose repeatedly from the ground threatening to unseat us all. “Bollards!” I found myself shouting for the 3rd time. “F@*%! It nearly was!” exclaimed a nearby male cyclist. I saw a taxi driver, driven mad perhaps by the sight of all these pollution-free happy healthy people taking over his roads, suddenly veer into the protest and attempt to force his way through the crowd, which included four-year-olds on tricycles, to deliver his passenger to parliament. I like to think it was an MSP. In any case, the point was made as he was sharply pulled over by a very angry policeman. I have to say the police were brilliant, very supportive, turning out on their own bikes to give us an escort, and holding back traffic against the lights to let us through. Below is a video which really captures the joy and unison of the day – both sombre, during the stunning minute’s silence in memory of those cyclists who have died on the road, and elated as we all cheered ourselves to the finish line and rang out a chorus of bells. And yes, that’s me sitting under a tree in sunglasses with a cuppa awaiting the start of the protest, but I did do some cycling too – honest! In fact, the family was so pleased we went right on from parliament to my sister’s chip shop (Barracuda near Portobello), and down to the beach to enjoy a well-earned feast. Well done everyone. We took back the streets and won, without violence. That’s the way it should be!

Video by Gary Buckham, Pugsley on Patrol.

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About Pedalling Poetry

Writer Ellen McAteer is founder of Tell It Slant poetry bookshop in Glasgow, and a visiting lecturer at the Glasgow School of Art. She was a mentee of the Clydebuilt Verse Apprenticeship Scheme, under Alexander Hutchison, and a singer with the band Stone Tape, as well as a solo singer who won a BBC Radio competition with her song Blue Valentine. She was Director of the Poetry Trust, which ran the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, a director of the Scottish Writers’ Centre, a visiting lecturer at Oxford University's MSt in creative writing, and a member of the core group of performers at the Hammer and Tongue spoken word collective in Oxford. She is a qualified Librarian.
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One Response to Pedal on Parliament

  1. Pingback: You Came, You Pedalled … | Pedal on Parliament

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