Councils to spend £5 million to get Scots on bikes

Scots asked to make Smarter Choices

by Kevin Emery   August 24, 2009  

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More than £5 million will be spent in Scotland over the next three years to get people cycling. Seven local authority areas are taking forward the wide-ranging initiatives through the Scottish Government’s Smarter Choices, Smarter Places (SCSP) scheme, supported by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).

The scheme which was launched last year and to encourage people to cut the number of times they use their car in favour of more active and sustainable forms of transport. It is hoped it will act as a catalyst for change across Scotland.

The projects are based in Dundee, Glasgow’s East End, Falkirk, Dumfries, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire and Orkney and will include things like self-service cycle hire schemes, Get Cycling roadshows in schools, upgrading cycling and walking routes, and improving public cycle storage facilities, and bike racks.

The aim is to get 10 percent of the population out of cars, buses and trains, and onto bikes as a study by the Scottish Government for its draft Cycling Action Plan for Scotland showed that 88 percent of respondents would like to cycle more often, yet just two percent of Scots cycle to work and only one percent of children cycle to school.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said: “We must encourage a change in the mode of transport we use. We need to look at new ways of persuading people out of the car and onto more sustainable forms of travel such as trains, buses, walking and cycling." The success of three similar “sustainable travel demonstration towns” in Darlington,Peterborough and Worcester from 2004-2008 has proven the value of establishing sustainable travel choices.

The £10-million DfT scheme produced an increase in sustainable travel use and resulted in a nine per cent reduction in car use across the three towns, with annual savings of more than 17,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

There was a 12 per cent increase in cycling in Peterborough and a 19 per cent increase in Worcester, while Darlington, which received further Government cash to improve facilities for cyclists, saw levels of cycling more than double over the same period.

The results were achieved through simple measures such as improving cycle and walking routes, better public transport links, more pedestrian-only areas, travel advisors visiting homes providing tailored travel plans, car sharing schemes and discounts on bus and train tickets.