Environmental campaigners in Scotland are calling on cyclists to join them this lunchtime in Edinburgh to protest against government cuts in the amount of money available for sustainable travel. The event, organised by Stop Climate Change Scotland, starts at 1pm outside the Scottish Government offices at St Andrew’s House, and has the backing of former Olympic and world champion, Chris Boardman.
Stop Climate Change Scotland says that the country “has shown global leadership by setting the most ambitious emissions reduction targets in the world.
“But,” it adds, “our Climate Change Act can only set a good example if we actually achieve what we’ve committed to do – and that’s under threat, as the Scottish Government has failed to fund its own plans to reduce emissions.”
The coalition, whose members include CTC and Sustrans as well as Edinburgh cycling campaign group Spokes, says that sustainable transport is the area giving rise to most concern, and is calling on as many people as possible to converge on St Andrew’s House on Regent Road, the principle offices of the Scottish Government, at 1pm today to get their point across.
“Whether you’re young or old, use your bike for commuting, shopping, fitness or pleasure, we’d love to see you there. A broad cross-section of people will send a stronger message,” it says.
Quoted on BBC News, Boardman, who won Olympic gold in the individual pursuit at Barcelona in 1992 and went on to wear the Tour de France yellow jersey after prologue victories in 1994, 1997 and 1998, said: "To get people on their bikes, and make sure Scotland plays its part in addressing climate change, there needs to be proper investment in cycling infrastructure."
Tom Ballantine from Stop Climate Chaos Scotland added: "The decision to cut funding to support low carbon transport measures such as active travel is deeply worrying.
"A number of parliamentary committees have echoed our concerns that the budget and spending review is not aligned with Scotland's climate change ambitions.
"The government must now step up and fully fund all of the measures set out in its own plans to meet our climate change targets."
However, the Scottish Government’s Transport Minister Keith Brown told BBC News that it was committed to encouraging people to cycle.
"We've spent more than £80m on active and sustainable travel since 2007,” he explained. “We have substantially expanded the cycle networks, for example.
"There is no question that we would like to spend more but we have a 36% cut to our capital budget and we have to live within the resources that we have."
At the end of December, Mr Brown urged fellow Scots in his New Year Message to switch to sustainable forms of transport in 2012.
However, he was accused of “breathtaking hypocrisy” by Labour’s transport spokeswoman Elaine Murray, who said that Scotland’s active travel budget had been cut from £25.1 million in 2011/12 to £13.9 million in 2014/15,
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.