Crumbs from the Table

As expected the Scottish Government has announced its extra funding for cycling – all £6 million of it, spread over two years.

As the minister, Keith Brown says

“I’ve been working closely with the cycling community in recent months to find out exactly what’s needed to get more people in Scotland on their bikes.

“What has been clear is that we share a vision for a Scotland that is safe, enjoyable and accessible for people to get around by bike.

“I want to ensure that people who currently cycle, and those who are considering it, are given even more reason to get about by bike by continuing to improve Scotland’s cycling infrastructure and this money will do that.”

This is a classic example of government spin. We have been talking to Keith Brown, as he says, but while he says all the right words we’re not sure he truly shares our vision. After all we, and every other cycling group who gave evidence at last week’s committee were united in calling for a minimum of 5% of the transport budget for cycling, and 10% for active travel overall.  Even with the additional funding, at best 1% of the transport budget is going on active travel, a tenth of what is needed. And it’s not because there’s no money: as Spokes have pointed out the motorways and trunk roads budget rises from £655m in 12/13 to £690m in 13/14; and total transport spending from £1887m in 12/13 to £2010m in 13/14.

£6 million won’t buy very much: at best about 10km of decent urban track or a little more in rural routes. Instead, we’re training kids to go out on the roads in ever greater numbers, but we’re doing nothing to make those roads safe for those kids. We’re trying to encourage people to take up cycling for the good of their health while risking their lives by trying to do it on the cheap. We’re doing nothing to make Scotland a cycle friendly nation.

By announcing this, the government is making one tacit admission: it has no intention of meeting its target of 10% of journeys by bike by 2020. It does not take cycling seriously as a means of transport. And yet we’re expected to welcome this as an improvement. Well this is not what we or 3000 or you pedalled on parliament for. We’re not interested in crumbs. We want to see a true transport revolution.

If this bothers you as much as it bothers us then you need to act now. We need everyone in Scotland who cares about cycling to write to their MSPs and tell them that £6 million isn’t good enough. That if they really want to make our roads fit for everyone to ride on – primary school kids and all – then they need to sign up to our manifesto, and they need to seriously rethink this budget before it’s too late. Don’t be fobbed off with crumbs from the table. And don’t be fobbed off by politicians who say all the right things but do nothing to acheive them.

And you can be certain that we’ll be pedalling on Parliament again next year and we’ll keep on pedalling and keep on pedalling until they listen to what we have to say.

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