With Christmas on its way, we’re pleased to hear that Scottish cyclists have had an early visit from Santa – and he’s been a bit more generous than usual. As a result of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, Scotland has been granted £205m in additional funding for capital projects. John Swinney has just announced the way the money be spent over the next two years. The bulk of it – £50m – is to be spent on housing, but the next two biggest tranches go to transport and regeneration, at £22m each.
When the extra funding was announced, we called for a minimum of 5% of it to be spent on cycling (with a further 5% for other areas of active travel), in line with our manifesto. That would have meant at least £1.1m spent on cycling – although of course much more would be needed to make up the funding shortfall overall. However, today it has been announced that £3.9m is to be spent on cycle infrastructure projects over the next two years. That’s 17.7% of the transport spending in this announcement.
Let’s not get carried away here. We calculate that £100m a year needs to be spent on cycling if we have any chance of reaching the the government’s own target of 10% of journeys by bike by 2020. So £3.9m is in some respects just a drop in the ocean. Moreover, short term funding like this, doled out on the whim of central government, is no way to encourage the sort of planned investment that ensures money doesn’t get wasted. However, what this does show is that cycling is on the agenda, and that the government is listening.
It would seem that making noise works, and that we need to keep the pressure up in every way we can. POP certainly isn’t the only factor that led to this announcement. There are many other organisations and individuals that are working towards the same goals. However, POP has undoubtedly made a significant difference. That’s why in January we will be announcing the date for for POP2.
Together we can make Scotland a cycle friendly nation.