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24/11/2010 // INFO 2 Comments

Mixed signals from Scotland



Efforts to encourage cycling as a mode of transport in Scotland could be hit by funding cuts and overall lack of investment in infrastructure in the next few years.

Figures out this week from the Scottish Government’s Household Survey Travel Diary state that only 1% of the Scottish public currently use bikes as a form of transport, a figure that has been consistent from previous surveys.

However, the Scottish Government has set a target to get 10% of all journeys in Scotland to be by a bicycle by 2020. Is such a target realistic?

A Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (CAPS) was announced in June with £3.9m worth of funding announced to boost cycle numbers via the building of new cycle routes and improving cycle training in the 2010/11 financial year. Prior to June 2010, there wasn’t even a formal Scotland-wide cycling strategy. The £3.9m figure is on top of total direct Scottish Government expenditure on cycling of £11.5m for 2010/11. This money is given to local authorities and sustainable transport charity Sustrans to fund projects and extend/maintain current cycle networks.

However, the level of funding has come in for criticism with sustainable transport group Transform Scotland saying the 10% target for 2020 would only be reached if government, local and national, provided realistic levels of funding. The £3.9m extra funding represented a “drop in the ocean” compared to the level of investment actually required to encourage people to cycle, it stated.

The target has also not been helped by the recent draft Scottish Budget announcement for 2011/12 onwards. While an extra £4m has been allocated to fund projects the money is being placed into Transport Scotland’s “Sustainable and Active Travel” fund, which according to Sustrans, covers a whole variety of transport forms under that grouping and not just cycling and walking. Indeed it states that three quarters of that money is destined towards funding electric cars and low carbon vehicles.

In addition, there is concern that COSLA, the Scottish Local Government Association, may allow the scrapping of the £9m Cycling, Walking and Safer Streets Fund (CWSS) after the ring fencing of the CWSS funds failed to be mentioned in the draft budget announcement.

“Increased funding for the Transport Division of Transport Scotland, who deliver on sustainable transport, is welcome but taking the emphasis away from walking and cycling is not and totally undermines the Government’s delivery of the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (CAPS),” said John Lauder, director of Sustrans Scotland.

“Along with the reduction in capital for local authorities, this could set Scotland back years in both the delivery of CAPS and the good progress that has been made in recent years to increase active travel.”

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