Some time ago we sent an open letter to the First Minister Alex Salmond. We are please to report that we have had a reply from his Minister for Transport Keith Brown, which we post here in full, we are currently working on a response to this letter and will publish it shortly.

Thank you for your letter to The Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP, First Minister of Scotland regarding your 8-point manifesto and asking for a meeting to discuss it. I am responding as the Minister with portfolio responsibility for road safety and cycling policy. I have read your manifesto with interest and was pleased to meet with you and your colleagues on Thursday 31 May at the Scottish Parliament to discuss various points but think it would be helpful if I make comment on all of the points as laid out on your website:

1. Proper funding for cycling. The SNP Manifesto Commitment stated that “we will continue to increase the proportion of transport spending on low-carbon, active and sustainable travel”. There will be a 1.42% average spend per year over the Spending Review period. In the next 3 years, we will invest over £27m on infrastructure and encouragement through Sustrans and Cycling Scotland. Local authorities will receive an additional £20m in that time for cycling, walking and safer streets projects but can also add to this from their own resources. We have no plans to ring-fence a percentage of the transport budget for cycling.

2. Design cycling into Scotland’s roads. Cycling by Design has been a consultation document for 10 years and was published as design guidance in June 2010. As we agreed at the meeting, if you feel there are gaps in this design guidance then please send your comments to Karen Furey at Transport Scotland and she will pass them on to her appropriate colleague.

3. Safer speeds where people live, work and play. This is already a commitment in the Road Safety Framework and we are currently working with the City of Edinburgh Council to pilot a 20 mph zone in the south of the City and other places across Scotland such as Fife and Dumfries and Galloway are also embracing this policy.

4. Integrate cycling into local transport strategies. According to Cycling Scotland only 5 LAs have an Active Travel or Cycling strategy document. However, all are bound by the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 to uphold access rights and draw up a core path plan to include paths, footways and cycle tracks for people to use for journeys. However, it is up to individual local authorities to set their own budgets and targets and publish appropriate strategies as required.

5. Sensible road traffic law and enforcement. The CAPS action is not to introduce Strict Liability in Scotland. This is a reserved area and we have already stated that we would commission research into whether this law in some European countries has an effect on the number of people cycling. That is the commitment. This also links to the action on identifying what kind of hierarchy might be established with a view to developing an educational awareness campaign for all road users.

6. Reduce the risk of HGVs to cyclists and pedestrians. There was a meeting between Cycling Scotland, Transport Scotland and the Freight Industry on 8 June which I asked to be convened at the recent Road Safety Operational Partnership Group meeting. At that meeting it was agreed there would be a review of the training all professional drivers receive and a commitment to work in partnership to promote mutual respect between drivers and cyclists and pedestrians. It was also agreed that the attendees would meet twice a year to discuss progress and any other issues which might arise. I note you say that only 6% of the traffic is HGV but this is for London. I would recommend that you focus on Scottish statistics and suggest you look at the Reported Road Casualties Scotland 2010 document which is available on Transport Scotland’s website.

7. A strategic and joined-up programme of road user training. Road Safety Scotland, Cycling Scotland, Sustrans and Paths for All coordinate road safety training for road users. Most recently I launched the Give Me Cycle Space campaign to highlight to drivers the need to be aware and to look out for children cycling on the roads. Where this campaign has been run in the past, drivers are more aware of all cyclists, not just children.

8. Solid research on cycling to support policy-making. We are currently awaiting the outcome of the 3 year Smarter Choices, Smarter Places programme which provided intensive interventions, including cycling, in 7 communities in Scotland. Also, during the consultation period for CAPS in 2009, we received over 6,000 responses from stakeholders, members of the public, public, private and third sector organisations, so we know that road safety and speeds of vehicles are concerns for cyclists, old and new. This is why I recently met with cycling stakeholders to see what we could all do in partnership to make Scotland’s roads safer.

I very much enjoyed our recent conversation and look forward to our next discussion.

Kind regards


A copy of the original letter is available here.

The Scottish Government replies