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Cycling may fall as a percentage of transport spending

Scotland’s Spending Plans and Draft Budget 2016-17 appears to indicate that there could be a slight reduction in cycle funding next year. With cycling receiving less than two per cent of transport spending, campaigners say there are serious doubts about the government’s desire to achieve its stated aim of 10 per cent of all trips being by bike by 2020.

The budget document states that the total going to active travel will be approximately £39m. The figure is imprecise as the money will be from The Sustainable and Active Travel (SAT) line and the Future Transport Fund (FTF) – both of which are likely to also provide funding for electric vehicles, bus innovation and other things.

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SAT rises from last year’s £32.2m to £35.9m, while the Future Transport Fund (FTF) remains at £20.2m. There is also the Cycling, Walking, Safer Streets Fund (CWSS), which will see a drop from £8m to £5.9m. In contrast, trunk road spending is up 18 per cent to £820m, although rail funding has also been hit – down by seven per cent.

Spokes, the Lothian Cycling Campaign, believes that the budget’s impact on local council cycling provision could be significantly worse than the overall figure suggests.

The chief reason for this is the cut to CWSS. They point out that nearly all councils use CWSS cash to raise additional money through ‘matched funding’ projects, in partnership with bodies such as Sustrans, Scottish Canals, or EU schemes.  Thus a 25 per cent cut in CWSS means councils are likely to lose almost the same amount again in matched funds.

Writing on its website, the group says:

“Overall, active travel spending will be if anything marginally less than last year, and way under European levels, once again casting serious doubt on the government’s wish and ability to achieve 10% of all trips being by bike in 2020 – just 4 years away now.

“Perhaps one element of comfort is that active travel funding in Scotland has at least done better than England received in the recent UK Conservative spending review!

“Spokes has urged the Parliament’s ICI Committee to make a forceful response to the budget, if it wants Active Travel cash raised to a more realistic level.  Spokes is supporting the #WalkCycleVote campaign for 10% of transport cash to go to active travel.”

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