Pedal on Parliament are joining with Spokes, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Ramblers Scotland, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland and Transform Scotland in calling on John Swinney to follow the recommendation of Spokes and the Cross Party Group on Cycling and reverse cuts to the Cycling, Walking and Safer Streets funds – the fund that provides almost all local authorities’ spending on cycling and walking – and transfer 1% of the over-inflated trunk road budget back into active travel.
As the latest Annual Cycling Monitoring Report makes clear, cycling levels in Scotland are, at best, creeping upwards: the latest household survey data found that 1.4% of Scots regarded cycling as their main mode of transport, compared with 0.8% in 2004 (there was no figure given for the actual share of journeys overall by bike – despite the government’s own target of 10% of journeys to be by bike by 2020). Just 2.3% of us usually cycle to work – albeit up from 1.9% on average over 2005-09. These increases are not to be sneezed at, but they are baby steps indeed, and they’re no surprise. As the International Comparator Study reported just before Christmas, the overwhelming evidence from Europe is that investment and infrastructure are key to growing cycling levels – and yet Scotland built just 13.6 km of traffic-free cycle network in 2014, according to the monitoring report, and despite recent increases, still invests less that 2% of its transport budget in active travel overall. How can we expect to do anything but creep forward, if we invest tiny percentages of our transport budget on walking and cycling – while spending huge and growing sums on Scotland’s trunk road network?
If we want to see a step change in cycling, we need a step change in funding – that’s why we’re calling on all parties at the coming election to commit to invest 10% of the transport budget on active travel. But before we can take a step forward we need to avoid taking a step back – and a step back is exactly what this draft budget represents.
We urge all of you – if you haven’t already done so – to write to your MSPs (there’s guidance here from Spokes) telling them to support this call for action. You can also contact John Swinney directly through the FOE Scotland e-action. 1% of the trunk road budget is a tiny amount, and a fraction of what we ultimately need, but even the longest journey starts with a single step.