We’ve several good reasons to feel optimistic about the future of everyday cycling in Scotland. We’ve seen a doubling of Transport Scotland’s Active Travel budget to £80m per year and the planned appointment of an Active Nation Commissioner for Scotland. Off the back of that, Sustrans announced that all five Community Links PLUS finalists were funded meaning that Stirling, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness will see high quality exemplar infrastructure built over the next couple of years.
Both First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Transport Secretary Humza Yousaf spoke to Friday’s Transport Scotland staff conference on the importance of active travel, and active travel plays a part in the newly announced strategy on health and obesity, which is now being consulted on.
We’re also pleased to see this week that the Scottish Green Party have adopted an ambitious new active travel policy which we’re told incorporates all the points in the PoP Manifesto – see this announcement by their Transport spokesperson John Finnie MSP. It includes nice touches such as recognising adapted cycles as mobility aids when used by disabled people, and a commitment to a strategic cycling and walking network linking communities across the country. Hopefully this will spur the other parties to improve their offerings in this regard.
We’d like to think that Pedal on Parliament played a big role in helping these politicians begin to see the light! Five years of protests outside Parliament – and more recently rides in Aberdeen, Inverness and Glasgow – and engagement over the years with Transport Ministers and opposition parties have shown that there is an appetite among the people of Scotland for the changes that we’ve been asking for: a country where anyone who wants to can cycle their everyday journeys in safety and comfort; a country where children can make their way to school without having to ride amongst motor traffic; a country where people are healthier and wealthier because they choose to get around as much as possible by cycling.
We musn’t rest on our laurels – if we’re to see real change in Scotland’s transport culture it will only come about through sustained pressure on politicians from all of us. As we said a few weeks ago, we need to move Scotland’s cycling policy from good to great, and we need to see those laudable aspirations translated into real, on the ground improvements that will actually enable more people to cycle.
Here’s what you can do right now to help:
Neither of the two leadership candidates for Scottish Labour have yet signed up to supporting the three asks of We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote for increased investment in active travel, building dedicated cycling infrastructure and supporting local people to solve the barriers to active travel in their areas. If you’re a member of Scottish Labour, please ask both Richard Leonard and Anas Sarwar to commit to making those asks part of Labour policy if they’re elected leader.
UPDATE: Both Anas Sarwar and Richard Leonard have responded on Twitter – see the end of this post for details
- On Tuesday 31st October, there’s a debate planned in the Scottish Parliament on “The Promotion of Walking and Cycling as Active Travel in Scotland”. We haven’t yet seen the motion that the Scottish Government will put forward for debate, but we do urge everyone to contact their MSPs and ask them to speak on Tuesday in favour of making our cycling infrastructure design standards as strong and ambitious as possible, and committing funding to allow local authorities to think and plan long term, as well as our other manifesto points.
- Please respond to the Scottish Government’s consultation on their new health, activity and exercise strategy, again mentioning practical steps to increasing everyday cycling.
- Support your local cycling campaign! As plans for new cycling infrastructure are developed, councils are going to need both support in principle for change, and supportive criticism to ensure that designs are as high quality as possible. Joining your local cycle campaign group and helping with this work is vital.
After posting this article, both Anas Sarwar and Richard Leonard responded to our tweets:
Happy to confirm my vision for Scotland proposes ??active travel funding. Full detail: https://t.co/nECu2gkpob
— Anas Sarwar (@AnasSarwar) October 27, 2017
Hi, have just launched my manifesto, mentioned active travel and infrastructure. Looking forward to working on this https://t.co/XulEvZWDcK
— Richard Leonard (@LabourRichard) October 27, 2017
We hope that they can provide more detail to We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote soon.