Cycling activists north of the border have cautiously welcomed today's Scottish government announcement of £20 million in extra funding for cycling over the next two years.
Campaign group Pedal on Parliament acknowledged it had been accused of always being critical of government initiatives and said: “We’re going to break the habit of a lifetime and welcome today’s announcement.
“An extra £20 million (over the next two years) has been found in the latest draft budget, and as the minister has said, it is all going to go on building infrastructure for cycling, specifically the Sustrans Community Links programme.
“Of that, £3.6 million is to go on what has been described as ‘an exemplar commuter corridor’ along Leith Walk.
“Today’s announcement shows both how far we’ve come – and how far we’ve still to go on our journey towards a cycle-friendly Scotland.”
Lothian cycle campaign Spokes examined the funding in detail to make sure that the government wasn’t cooking the books by re-announcing previously planned funding.
Spokes said: “The draft budget published recently included £10m ‘extra’ for active travel investment in each of 14/15 and 15/16, but due to the obscurity of the budget it was not clear if some of this was just re-announcing existing money.
“In response to complaints by Green MSP Patrick Harvie, Finance Secretary John Swinney MSP provided a breakdown. Whilst this breakdown itself is somewhat complex, Spokes can confirm that it is all money not previously announced.”
However, Spokes cautioned that the new funding still falls short of that needed to achieve government targets.
“The total is still nothing like what is needed to give any hope of the government meeting its own target for 10% of all journeys to be by bike in 2020.
“For 15/16, unfortunately, the picture is less rosy than it sounds. Certainly, there is £10m ‘new money,’ but £5m of other 14/15 money (so called Barnett Consequentials) is no longer there. Thus total Scottish Government cycling investment, in very rough round terms, looks like this:
Spokes suggests that funding for active travel needs to continue growing past 2014/15.
Announcing the new funding, Scottish transport minister Keith Brown said: “This new additional funding demonstrates the Scottish Government’s commitment to delivering infrastructure to make cycling a safe and realistic travel choice.”
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.