HUNDREDS of cyclists will converge on Holyrood today as part of a campaign to make Scotland's roads safer.
The Pedal on Parliament group has created an eight-point manifesto which includes lobbying for improved funding for cycling, more bike-friendly road design and proposals to help reduce the risk of HGVs to cyclists and pedestrians.
To date more than 3000 people have signed a petition, with Olympic gold medallist cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, round-the-world adventurer Mark Beaumont and former world champion Graeme Obree having pledged their support.
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Started by a group of cyclists from across Scotland in February, campaigners will rally at The Meadows at 2pm today before riding to Holyrood to deliver a petition and a copy of their manifesto to the Scottish Parliament.
Feeder rides are being organised from across Edinburgh as well as Glasgow, Aberdeen, Fife and East Lothian.
There have been six fatalities involving cyclists in Scotland in the past 12 months.
Two cyclists have died on Edinburgh's roads this year. Bryan Simons, 40, was killed when he was involved in a collision with a taxi in Corstorphine in March. In January, Andrew McNicoll, 43, died after colliding with a parked car on Lanark Road.
Shortly before Christmas last year, a 22-year-old cyclist was killed in a hit-and-run incident in the south side of Glasgow during evening rush-hour.
Scottish Government statistics show 781 cyclist casualties recorded in 2010 of which 138 people were seriously injured and seven killed.
As part of its Cycling Action Plan, the Scottish Government has set a target of 10% of all journeys to be made by bike by 2020 – a number tied to its low-carbon and obesity strategies.
Yet with only 1% of the country's transport budget currently allocated to cycling, more investment is needed, say campaigners, if Scotland is to come anywhere close to emulating the success of countries, such as the Netherlands and Denmark, where cycling accounts for 27% and 13% of journeys respectively.
Mark Beaumont, who will be joining the protests, said: "Having cycled many thousands of miles around the world and experienced roads in many different countries, I have experience of how well and how badly cyclists can be catered for on the roads.
"While cycling in the UK is a safe activity, it could be safer. That is why I am joining the organisers of Pedal on Parliament to ask our politicians to make cycling safe for everyone. The three-mile ride from The Meadows to Holyrood might be short, but the effect on cycling in Scotland could be profound."
Pedal on Parliament organiser David Brennan said: "Having started this grassroots campaign only two months ago, I'm amazed at how it has flourished.
"We are pleased that many politicians across the political divide support the principles of our manifesto. However, to transform Scotland into a cycling-friendly nation, we require real action and real investment at both government and local government."
Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown has backed calls to make Scotland a "cycle-friendly nation". Speaking ahead of today's rally, Mr Brown said: "Pedal on Parliament has bold ambitions and this Government shares that ambition to make Scotland a cycle-friendly nation. We are investing in cycling infrastructure across Scotland, in both urban and rural areas."
He said there has been "considerable progress" and investment in cycling infrastructure across the country.
More than £20 million will be spent to support "active travel", which includes cycling, over the next three financial years.
Mr Brown said the Government is working with the City of Edinburgh Council to pilot and assess 20mph zones in residential areas. The Government aims to reduce by 30% the number of people killed on the roads by 2015.
He added: "Getting the next generation on board is pivotal. We have agreed a 40% target for on-road cycle training with Cycling Scotland and have given our support to every child or young person having the opportunity to saddle up."