Scottish government risks missing cycling target, warn MSPs

Minister told that cycling vision won't be realised without adequate funding

by Simon_MacMichael   June 10, 2010  

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The Scottish Government is at risk of failing to meet its own targets on increasing the number of cyclists in the country by 10% over the next decade unless it spends more money promoting cycling, the Transport Committee of the Holyrood Parliament warned yesterday.

Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) sitting on the commitee highlighted the issue during a parliamentary debate regarding “active travel,” reports The Scotsman.

The committee’s convener, Patrick Harvie, cautioned that it considered “the 10% target will be meaningless if the Scottish Government fails to match its ambition with a realistic level of funding which is proportionate to the improvements it expects to see delivered across Scotland.

He acknowledged that "the target is a good one, an aspirational one, but it won't happen by magic," but urged the government to move cycling further up its agenda.

He added that the issue of cycling must go further up the government's agenda, and that initiatives such as reducing the speed limit to 20mph in urban areas would be a step in the right direction.

In response, Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson, whose department is currently working towards completing the final version of the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland, explained: "We are in a period of financial constraint. We're keen to hear suggestions from members in all budget debates which policy areas should be given priority."

Mr Stevenson said that some of the recommendations the committee had made regarding issues to be included within CAPS would be included within the final document.

Those include a nationally co-ordinated cycle training scheme, which the minister said would be centrally managed by Cycling Scotland, offering training for children in year 3 of primary school through to year 2 of secondary school.

He also said that the committee’s request that active travel be a central element of new developments would be taken forward by CAPS, which would “promote existing guidance to achieve more well-designed and accessible cycling facilities throughout Scotland,” and said he was looking forward to hearing the results of the committee’s own inquiry into how transport in general and land use relate to each other.

Finally, he said the issue of ensuring that cycling is integrated with public transport would be addressed with the department looking to “strengthen partnerships, lead on investigating how other countries achieve traffic-management measures to integrate active travel, and seek opportunities to ensure that active travel is an integral part of planning decisions, which of course will help to improve health, regenerate communities and make roads safe for all.”