Scottish cycling provision "decades behind" despite handful of good local authorities

Study commends five outstanding authorities but transport minister says focus should be on commuters

by Elliot Johnston   November 15, 2013  

Scottish Parliament Bike Stands (copyright Simon MacMichael).jpg

Ten of the 32 Scottish authorities were praised in the country’s first assessment of cycling policy since 2008. However, Scottish transport minister Keith Brown called for further action to support bike-commuters in Scottish cities and said that not enough has been done over the last five years.

Speaking to The Scotsman Brown said that “substantially more” needs to be done to improve cycling provisions in Scotland, as the country’s cycling infrastructure is “decades behind” where it should be.

While the assessment praised Glasgow, Edinburgh, Fife, Clackmannanshire and Aberdeenshire for having outstanding focus on cycling provisions, Brown said that councils must focus on aiding commuters if the government are to achieve their 2020 target that ten percent of journeys be made by bicycle.

“It’s where we can change; commuting should be the priority.” Brown said. “What we have to look at is where we can shift people from cars and other environmentally-damaging forms of transport to cycling and walking.”

The National Assessment Of Local Authority Cycling Policy 2013 study, which the minister was responding to, was launched in Glasgow this week by newsreader and national cycling charity CTC president Jon Snow. It investigated how all 32 Scottish councils are coordinating efforts to encourage greater cycle use.

Mr Snow, a cyclist and bike commuter himself, also spoke to The Scotsman after the unveiling of the report.

“Cycle commuting will affect the way people live their lives while they are at work,” Mr Snow said. “If you get cycle commuting going, you will also get the natural usage of bikes while people are at work.”

The parameters under which the councils were analysed within the study were: leadership and commitment from councillors and senior staff; the degree of consideration given to cycling across council policies and strategies; the amount of resources committed to cycling; the development of infrastructure to support cycling; promotion; monitoring cycling levels and understanding the needs of local cyclists.

8 user comments

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Certainly within my local authority, this seems to be an accurate picture. I am the only one of 120 staff who cycles to work and my children are some of the few who cycle to primary school.

In both cases there is inadequate provision for securely locking up bikes. I have to keep my bike in my office but not all my colleagues can do this.

The town I commute to is one of the largest in Scotland and yet is there is very little in the way of cycle paths or markings on the road. The only one I can remember (before it faded away) was a small triangular area on a wide corner.

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posted by stenmeister [30 posts]
15th November 2013 - 15:05

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here here @stenmeister. my commute has to go on a long-way-round unlit untreated single track road because of the lack of cycling provision on the busy fast A96 , not even pedestrian walkway that could be made into a dual use path. Yet I hear all the time of my local councils spending millions on tourist loch ness cycle lanes and getting school kids to trundle around the school playground learning about cycle safety, would any parent then let them out on the A96 despite them being safe...

the only way to increase dramatically the number of frequent journeys by bike is to increase commuter traffic. the only way to do that is to make it easier and safer to commute and co-ordinate it with bus/rail options and cycle lockups.
Put money into that and they probably would not need to dual the A96 for £XXX million

posted by a_to_the_j [71 posts]
15th November 2013 - 16:41

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Aberdeenshire for having outstanding focus on cycling provisions

I would hate to see those without focus if Aberdeenshire is outstanding - I have never ridden in such a dangerous place.

posted by Cyclic [24 posts]
15th November 2013 - 19:44

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Vast majority of cycle 'infrastructure' in Scotland seems to consist of a dashed painted line, to the left of which is a potholed strip of asphalt and usually numerous parked cars. Some paths are very good, but these are invariably in 'tourist' areas along lochs and such like, not very useful for your average commuting punter. Could do better.

Je vie dans l'espoir constant

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posted by Strathlubnaig [113 posts]
15th November 2013 - 22:17

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It is a shame that Keith Brown isn't promising any serious upgrade of cycle infrastructure in Scotland, which is “decades behind” the rest of Europe. Sadly he prefers to waste £Bn on roads projects which are not economically viable, but are being built purely for vanity. At a resent transport conference he stated that there would be no serious investment on infrastructure for active travel until the road projects where all completed, in about 20 years time...

We need real action, not mealy mouthed words!

posted by Kim [124 posts]
15th November 2013 - 22:18

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Cyclic wrote:

Aberdeenshire for having outstanding focus on cycling provisions

I would hate to see those without focus if Aberdeenshire is outstanding - I have never ridden in such a dangerous place.

Be thankful that you're not in Renfrewshire. It was rated as one of the worst. Inverclyde was the other low scoring region. Paisley has one ASL which is now verging to non existent due to the paint wearing out.

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posted by giff77 [967 posts]
15th November 2013 - 22:40

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I hate riding through Paisley. The N7 path is crap and the roads that follow it are dangerous.

I'm in East Renfrewshire and commute into Glasgow, neither of which areas do much more than chuck some paint around. Glasgow does fairly well on east-west routes, but north-south is at best patchy.

My eyes prefer Celeste, my bum prefers titanium.

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posted by Jack Osbourne snr [260 posts]
16th November 2013 - 1:39

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This is the same Keith Brown who wasted £400,000 on the dreadful Nice Way Code campaign, which did nothing to encourage cycling.

posted by kcr [45 posts]
16th November 2013 - 20:30

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