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Cycling

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 29th March 2012.

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Photo of Fiona McLeod Fiona McLeod Scottish National Party

I join other members in welcoming this Green party debate.

It seems to me that there are three strands in this debate about cycling. We are talking about cycling as transport and cycling for leisure, and underpinning it all is introducing children to safe cycling. I want to give three examples from those areas from my Strathkelvin and Bearsden constituency. I will talk about East Dunbartonshire’s Cycle Co-op, which is based in Bishopbriggs, the rebound initiative in Lennoxtown, and pedal on Parliament, which has already been mentioned. I thank Dr Brennan, who is a constituent of mine, for his work in making that happen next month.

East Dunbartonshire’s Cycle Co-op is a not-for-profit social enterprise team led by the redoubtable Mark Kiehlmann. It is a team of certified bike ability tutors and cycle mechanics. Those people have done many things. Among them, they set up the East Dunbartonshire bike library to assure parents that, when their children start to learn to cycle, they cycle on a bike that is fit for purpose.

Over the team’s few years of working, the most remarkable achievement it has seen has been Bishopbriggs becoming the first town—indeed, as far as I know, it is still the only town—in which every primary school has received a Cycling Scotland cycle-friendly school award. That achievement is even more remarkable in light of the fact that only 2 per cent of children in Scotland cycle to school. At St Matthew’s primary school in Bishopbriggs, 20 per cent currently cycle to school daily. Double the 2020 target is being achieved in Bishopbriggs in 2012. It is therefore not surprising that when the BBC and other media outlets are looking for someone to go to to highlight the benefits of cycling, they go to East Dunbartonshire’s Cycle Co-op. As a result, Bishopbriggs has received a lot more publicity than a small town of its size would perhaps normally expect to receive. I thank the many MSPs who supported my motion S4M-01910, which highlighted the work of East Dunbartonshire’s Cycle Co-op.

I turn to cycling for leisure and the rebound initiative in Lennoxtown. The plans are ambitious for a not-for-profit social enterprise. We want to see a cycle tourism hub in Lennoxtown that utilises the Forestry Commission tracks around it, and—most importantly—taps into the central Scotland cycling route network and uses the Forth-Clyde canal, which goes through my constituency. A community consultation was held in March, which more than 80 people attended. There were nothing but positive comments from the questionnaires and the ideas board that day.

I know that we are short of time, so I will conclude. I hope that those examples of local initiatives in my constituency show what can be done across Scotland.