“Impossible” – that’s the verdict of Scotland’s largest cycling campaign group on the SNP’s longstanding aim to have 10 per cent of journeys in the country made by bike by 2020.
Edinburgh and Lothian campaign group Spokes says that with just four years to go, there is “no hope” of hitting the target “under any realistic financial scenario,” reports the Scotsman.
The group’s assertion comes as the country heads to the polls on Thursday for elections to the Scottish Parliament with the SNP, in power since 2007, seeking a third term.
In 2010, the SNP government published its Cycling Action Plan for Scotland, which highlighted that ambition of cycling making up one in ten trips by 2020 – then, a decade away.
More than halfway through that period, only minimal progress has been made. According to Spokes, modal share for cycling of all journeys has risen from 1 per cent to 1.4 per cent. Just 2.6 per cent of commutes are by bike.
“From the outset, we have said it was a hugely ambitious aim in that timescale, and we called for an evidence-based and costed pathway to reach it,” said Dave du Feu, lead organiser of Spokes.
“That was never done. It is now impossible by 2020 at any likely cash level. There is now no hope of reaching it under any realistic financial scenario.
Ahead of next week’s poll, Spokes has rated the main parties on their cycling policies.
The Green Party tops the list, with Labour and the Liberal Democrats joint second. The SNP is tied for fifth with the Conservatives.
But Scottish transport minister Derek Mackay insisted that the SNP was still committed to meeting its target.
He said: “We remain determined to meet our ambitious vision of 10 per cent of everyday journeys made by bike by 2020 – that’s why we will continue to make record investment in cycling and walking over the life of the next Parliament.
“Increasing the number of journeys by foot or bike will benefit our environment, economy, public health and much more.”
Mr Du Feu said: “The SNP manifesto is basically promising to maintain current spending levels, not to increase them.
“Ministers, and the manifesto, keep repeating their ‘determination’ to meet the vision/target, and probably believe what they are saying, but if so, their determination is based on wishful thinking, not on evidence.”
He added that putting in place infrastructure such as segregated cycle lanes could take several years, partly because of the time it takes to conduct the consultation process and address objections.
Last month, thousands of cyclists from across Scotland took part in the fifth annual Pedal On Parliament ride, held in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, calling for greater investment from the government in active travel.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.