Transport Scotland and Sustrans say that they have received “record number” of applications for a £6.4 million fund for walking and cycling schemes aimed at linking local communities with schools and shops. The news comes as the Scottish Government launches a campaign to encourage people to leave the car at home for shorter journeys and walk or ride a bike instead.
According to Courier.co.uk, some 104 projects have applied for a share of the money being made available by national transport agency Transport Scotland under the Community Links Programme, which is administered by Sustrans Scotland.
Bidders have reportedly already been informed whether or not their applications have been successful, and those that have been will be required to provide match funding for the projects in question.
There's no news of how many schemes are likely to be successful - clearly, if all were, the money would have to be spread around very thinly indeed.
Graeme Brown, Construction Projects Manager at Sustrans Scotland, commented: “Sustrans is delighted to have received a record number of applications to our Community Links Programme, all of which are of the highest quality.
“We have been working hard to carefully select the projects that best meet our criteria and have just informed partners whether or not they have been successful.
“The installation of cycling and walking facilities gives people the opportunity to travel by foot or bike more often. This saves them money, brings enormous health benefits and just generally creates a more pleasant environment in which to live.
“Sustrans is committed to ensuring that communities are better connected with their surroundings, with their local facilities and, most importantly, with each other.
“We want everybody in Scotland to have the opportunity to walk or cycle their short everyday journeys safely and quickly.”
Transport minister Keith Brown added: “We’ve allocated considerable funding to the Community Links Programme as part of our commitment to increase the number of shorter journeys made by foot or bike and it’s greatly encouraging to see more than 100 walking and cycling schemes taking shape,” he said.
“The record number of applications received says a lot about the level of public and community interest in creating a healthier, greener and more active Scotland.
“This week ministers launched the Active Travel campaign, which encourages people to walk rather than take their cars for journeys less than two miles.
“This project will help build momentum by making more short journeys possible by walking and cycling, and we are pleased that more public bodies than ever before are prioritising active travel.”
With the tagline ‘Not far? Leave the car,’ the Active Travel campaign highlights the environmental and health benefits of walking and cycling and is supported by an advertising campaign including TV, radio, outdoor, digital and field activity, as well as an iPhone app.
At its launch earlier this week, Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse commented: “We’re all in the habit of jumping in the car for short trips that we could easily walk or cycle.
“Mile for mile, it’s the short car journeys that create the most carbon emissions – and with one in three car journeys made in Scotland being under two miles, and nearly a quarter of all trips under a mile - it’s vitally important that steps are taken to encourage people, where possible, to make active travel choices.
“This campaign aims to do just that. By encouraging people to consider if they can walk or cycle short journeys rather than using the car we will not only help to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change but also improve our health and wellbeing.”
The initiative is backed by Living Streets Scotland, whose Keith Irving said: “This May, we want to get people across Scotland out of their car seat and onto their two feet.
“We’re urging families to give walking a go during Walk to School Week, encouraging children to get walking now and set healthy habits for the future.”
“We think you’ll be amazed at what a difference a short blast of fresh air can do for you as part of your daily life. Walking is free, green and easy, helping you feel better, in body and mind.”
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.