It isn’t often that we are surprised by good news, but today brought something unexpected from the Scottish Government. Transport Scotland announced that ‘green travel’ is to receive a funding boost, including £7m for cycling and walking infrastructure.
We have learned to have a healthy dose of scepticism with regards to government funding announcements, as these often turn out to be re-announcements rather than new money. However, on this occasion we are delighted that inflationary savings from the Queensferry Crossing are being allocated to cycling infrastructure. It is somewhat ironic that this contribution towards a safer cycling Scotland is coming from a much larger road building scheme. However, we are grateful that cycling and walking have benefited.
It is perhaps revealing that this announcement came on the same day the government released its climate change figures for 2012. Unfortunately these figures suggest that CO2 emissions have risen since last year and the government continues to miss its reduction targets. The detail of the report it further reveals that transport (excluding aviation and shipping) is the third biggest producer of CO2 and is the only sector that has not seen a drop in emissions since 1990. So despite a significant improvement in fuel efficiency, transport emissions are just as bad now as they were in 1990.
Every contribution towards making cycling safer and a more viable alternative is to be welcomed. However, the government’s own evidence demonstrates that significantly more needs to be done. We thank the government for this extra funding, but we also ask them to stop just throwing us crumbs from the road building table. We need significant, sustained and fully budgeted investment in cycling and walking if we are to have any chance of meeting our commitments to CO2 reduction, and to having 10% of trips conducted by bike by 2020.