Today, three members of Pedal on Parliament team (Dave Brennan, Sally Hinchcliffe and Kim Harding) met with the Transport Minister Keith Brown, MSPs and officials to discuss the key points of our manifesto. We concentrated on our top three demands: more funding for cycling, safer roads, and better designed cycling networks. These were the top three priorities that our supporters have been raising with us via twitter, Facebook, and e-mail. These are the key issues that need to be sorted if the Scottish Government is to achieve its own target of 10% of journeys by bike by 2020.
While we were encouraged to hear that the government would at least be sticking to its own manifesto commitments for increasing spending on Active Travel, the minister made no commitment for the sort of funding we are asking for, which is 5% of the transport budget. The Minister explained that he felt responsibility for cycling is largely in the hands of local authorities. Although he is planning to look at the Welsh Government’s initiative, mandating local authorities to create safe Active Travel networks. However, Mr Brown is reluctant to impose policy in a top-down manner on Scottish councils.
Without substantial central government funding, then realistically there is little the government can do to meet its own target for cycling levels. Similarly, although the Minister will look at making it easier for local authorities to lower speed limits, he argued that this is largely out of his hands. However, we’ve agreed to meet again – and to work together to try and identify what the Scottish Government CAN do. In particular, we hope that the design guidelines might be strengthened in line with international best practice.
Dave Brennan said ‘We had a positive meeting with Keith Brown, and we are very pleased that he’s invited us to meet again, to follow up on some of the points we’ve raised and others we didn’t have time to cover. We are hopeful that this is a start of an ongoing relationship, and that together we can make Scotland a cycle friendly Nation. However, central funding is absolutely critical, especially if the details of policy are to be left up to local authorities. Strategy, leadership and core funding must come from the Scottish Government.’
The Minister responds:
In response to a news release which we issued following the meeting, the Transport Minister Keith Brown said:
Cycling is a major priority for the Scottish Government and I was pleased to have the chance to sit down with Pedal on Parliament and discuss how we can continue to work together towards our mutual goal of making cycling safer and more attractive for more people in Scotland.
This meeting was extremely productive and reinforced our shared determination to see more active travel as a whole “We have not – as Westminster has – shuffled cycling off the agenda and I welcome PoPs recognition of our continued commitment. Indeed, we have invested over £83million in active travel since 2007 and over the next three years will invest £27million in cycling alone.
We have agreed to meet again soon to discuss further how cyclists and cycling campaigners can be more closely involved in the process of increasing and improving cycling infrastructure throughout Scotland and I have assured PoP that we will continue to encourage local authorities to use the funding we make available to them to make cycling a more attractive option in their areas.
I look forward to continuing to develop the relationship between the Scottish Government and Pedal on Parliament.
We are pleased to get a positive response to our press release from the Minister, although we do wish he would nudge the stylus, he is sounding like a broken record on that £83m since 2007 number…