A new report has concluded that greater investment in segregated cycle lanes is needed if Scotland is to achieve its stated aim of 10 per cent of all trips being by bike by 2020. The International Comparator Study, commissioned by Cycling Scotland, based its recommendations on how the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Spain and Austria have increased cycling rates in recent decades.
Herald Scotland reports that the evidence from these countries "strongly indicates" cycling investment should be focused on segregated cycle lanes and traffic management measures such as reduced speed limits. Researchers also pointed to a focus in both the Netherlands and Denmark on teaching safe cycling to children.
The report states: "If the Netherlands considers it worthwhile to invest in ensuring school age children receive a programme of cycling education and training over many years – and they do – then that is probably lesson enough for Scotland. That the same is also true of Denmark emphasises the point."
The researchers did however make clear that education was not a substitute for physical measures. They point out that in Copenhagen a 22 per cent increase in space allocated to cycle paths between 1996 and 2014 was accompanied by a 44 per cent increase in the average number of kilometres cycled per weekday by the city's residents.
With cycling receiving less than two per cent of Scotland’s transport spending, campaigners say there are serious doubts about the government’s desire to achieve its 2020 target. The Extra this week reported how the Scottish Green Party has urged ministers to rethink plans to cut spending on safe walking and cycling routes to schools. The Cycling, Walking, Safer Streets Fund (CWSS), will see a drop from £8m to £5.9m for next year.
Alison Johnstone, health spokeswoman for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Lothian, said:
"Christmas will have seen a fleet of new bicycles delivered to households across Scotland but in many places we don't have the infrastructure to truly make cycling a safe and enjoyable part of everyday life.
"By leaving funding flat, while pumping up spending on new trunk roads and motorways, the Scottish Government is making clear that cycling and walking is not a priority despite the benefits to health and people's pockets, and despite public demand.
"We have to remember that transport is a social justice issue. Not everyone has the money to, or wants to rely on a private car to get to places and many people would prefer increased investment in cycling, walking and public transport.
"I led Holyrood's first debate on cycling, almost four years ago, with the parliament reaffirming the Scottish Government's target of 10% of journeys by bike by 2020, yet we're still at only 1%. I will continue to press the case for a transformation in funding priorities. Scotland can become a cycle-friendly nation but we need Holyrood to be bolder."