Development of Edinburgh’s cycle paths has taken priority over repairs to the city’s potholed streets, in a budget reallocation of £1.05m that has been dubbed “very short-sighted” by a spokesman for the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
The reallocation will see the proportion of the city’s transport budget spent on cycling rise to seven percent as Edinburgh Council look to meet their target for 15% of journeys in the city being made by bicycle by 2020.
The move to support cycling in this instance has been met with incredulity by some councillors and motoring organisations who have made it clear that the state of the roads has an equivalent impact on cyclists and motorists.
Transport committee member Councillor Bill Henderson doesn’t agree with the council’s decision to redistribute of funds.
“I don’t see why any of the money from roads or street lighting should be allocated to cycling.” Mr Henderson told Edinburgh Evening News. “Most cyclists that I talk to want the potholes fixed. So why are we taking £1m that is specifically assigned to roads when really the benefits are usually given to all road users and almost all modes of transport – car, bus, bike, even pedestrians?”
While Edinburgh’s focus on supporting cycling is admirable, naysayers are quick to point out that the money that had been earmarked for road repairs could have filled 21,000 potholes at £50 a pop.
This year’s road maintenance budget was at it’s highest ever level, reaching £25.9m to battle a backlog of much needed road repairs. For the coming two years, if the draft budgets remain, it has been cut by £10m, and this further £1.05m hit will allegedly seriously impact the future state of roads in Edinburgh.
The budget changes were supported however, by the city’s Green transport spokesman Cllr Nigel Bagshaw who said: “We have a commitment to increase the cycling budget and it’s only right that that’s what the council is doing."
He added that the money had to “come from somewhere” and that “a lot of money has already been spent on the roads to make up for a long-term backlog."
Mr Bagshaw finished by stating that he didn't "have a problem with the cycling budget coming up.”
But Councillor Bagshaw's support for the decisions was not echoed by Neil Greig, the spokesman for the Institute of Advanced Motorists.
He said: “To fix the potholes we need guaranteed long-term funding. One good year, one bad year is what’s caused the problem so far. Cutting road maintenance to fund cycling is very short-sighted. It’ll cost them more in the long run.”
Opponents of the reallocation claim Edinburgh Council is being unwise in prioritising cycling, but when Council budgets are squeezed, these kind of trade offs are bound to crop up.
Elliot joined team road.cc bright eyed, bushy tailed, and straight out of university.
Raised in front of cathode ray tube screens bearing the images of Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong, Elliot's always had cycling in his veins.
His balance was found on a Y-framed mountain bike around South London suburbs in the 90s, while his first taste of freedom came when he claimed his father's Giant hybrid as his own at age 16.
When Elliot's not writing for road.cc about two-wheeled sustainable transportation, he's focussing on business sustainability and the challenges facing our planet in the years to come.