CAPS – for those of you not steeped in Scottish cycling policy is the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland, part of the Scottish government’s drive to have 10% of journeys be by bike by 2020. Sadly, as anyone who’s read it in any detail will know, it doesn’t contain many actions and it isn’t much of a plan, if by ‘plan’ you mean the sort of detailed, thought out, step-by-step guide to bringing about a desired conclusion. We’ve responded to it section by section here – but don’t just take our word for it. The Scottish Parliament’s Cross-party group on Cycling have responded too, and we reproduce with permission their letter to the minister below from the co-convenors Jim Eadie and Alison Johnstone.
We welcome this response and agree with them wholeheartedly – particularly the last one. Without proper funding – and by proper funding we mean at least 5% of the transport budget, as outlined in our manifesto – then all the planning in the world won’t get Scotland to its 10% target. Accordingly we await the forthcoming budget with interest.
Dear Minister for Transport,
As you will know, there has been a recent surge of interest in cycling in all its forms and I know that there is a strong desire from the cycling community to see the Scottish Government’s target being met, with 10% of journeys made by bike in 2020.
The Cross Party Group on Cycling met in June and our main discussion was on the refresh of the Cycle Action Plan for Scotland. I have attached a list of the members of the CPG.
The group asked me to send a summary of key points to you as a contribution to the CAPS process. There is significant concern from across cycling groups that the current plan, while it has many positive features, is unlikely to be enough to achieve the 2020 target.
Some of our member organisations have submitted views to you individually, but here are the overarching points discussed by the CPG.
The CAPS would benefit from interim targets. As with Scotland’s carbon targets, this would give an indication of the trajectory we are on and the impact and merit of different policies.
The CAPS would be stronger with numbers or targets attached to the stated aim of increasing the number of 20mph streets, and to the aim of increasing the number of children receiving on-road cycle training. The Scottish Parliament voted unanimously in March in favour of a target of 100% of school children being able to access on-road training by 2015.
More organisations could be brought on board and given a sense of ownership of the CAPS. There are clear opportunities for alignment with the National Walking Strategy and a clear relationship with the National Cycling Interest Group.
The issue of strict liability could be key in addressing road safety fears, and it was felt that work on this area could be sped up.
Local authorities would benefit from greater incentives to play their part in delivering the plan and committing their own funding to cycling improvements. It is clear that there are leaders and laggards among Scottish councils and more should be done to address this mixed picture.
Cycling targets could be included in local delivery targets
CAPS could require every council to have a dedicated cycle officer
In terms of political leadership, the Minister could convene a regular meeting of the 32 councillors with portfolio responsibility for transport to monitor and encourage progress.
The existing design guideline documents for cycle infrastructure would benefit from peer review and input from successful cycle friendly countries. The Danish and Dutch Cycle Embassies exist for this purpose. More could be done to ensure that every time roadworks are required for utilities or other work, cycle infrastructure is improved on streets and at junctions.
The target for 2010/11 of 8 businesses benefitting from loans for cycle friendly infrastructure such as bike parking and showers does not reflect the scale of the change needed and could be far more ambitious in future years.
Overall, there were a number of organisations and representatives who felt that the CAPS needed to be more of an evidenced plan to get us to the 10% target, with the funding to match. Each action in the plan should be assessed for the expected level of difference it will make, based on experience and evidence from elsewhere in the UK and other countries.
I hope this is a useful contribution and we look forward to your comments and seeing the refreshed plan for action.
Alison Johnstone MSP and Jim Eadie MSP
Cross Party Group on Cycling