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Cycling levels falling in Scotland – ‘no way on earth’ government can hit 2020 target

1.9 per cent of the 2015 transport budget was spent on pedestrian and cycle paths

Campaigners in Scotland have renewed calls for investment in infrastructure after recent figures revealed that cycling levels have dropped. The government’s 'Transport and Travel in Scotland' report found that only 1.2 per cent of all journeys were made by bike in 2015, down from 1.4 per cent the previous year – particularly bad news considering the target is 10 per cent by 2020.

The report also found that 2.2 per cent of people "usually" cycled to work in 2015, down from 2.4 per cent in 2014. Of those who did not, nearly a third said they were put off by "too many cars on the road" or because "traffic travels too fast".

Traffic on Scotland's roads is estimated to have hit a record high in 2015, up by around one per cent year-on-year.

Dave de Feu, of the Spokes cycle campaign, told Herald Scotland: “With under two per cent of its transport budget allocated to cycling, the SNP manifesto's 'determination' to achieve its 'vision' of 10 per cent of journeys by bike in 2020 is in fact a mirage. Evidence from English towns and from Europe suggests 10 per cent of journeys by bike would not even be achieved by 2030 at this level of investment."

Mike Rumbles, the Scottish LibDems' transport spokesman, took issue with the government’s priorities.

“Putting a cut in Air Passenger Duty ahead of investment in active travel is the wrong priority at a time when we are so far behind our cycling targets. The percentage of journeys taken by bike is now lower than was the case in 2011. Unless we see investment now there is no way on earth that the 2020 targets of 10 per cent of journeys to be taken by bike will be met. We will not get anywhere near it at this rate.”

Just 1.9 per cent of the 2015 transport budget was spent on pedestrian and cycle paths and an alliance of 14 groups, including public health charities, children’s rights organisations and environmental campaigns, have called for that to be increased to 10 per cent.

Emilia Hanna, of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “If investment rates don’t change, then cycle rates won’t change. The best bit is that it doesn’t require any new money from Government but rather a shift in existing spending away from building yet more roads towards healthier, active travel.”

A Cycling Scotland report released earlier in the year focused on 2014 levels of cycling. While there was a rise compared to 2013, rates were found to vary considerably from region to region.

Although the level of cycling as a main mode of travel was 4.2 per cent in Edinburgh, it was just 0.6 per cent in Glasgow and less than 0.5 per cent in Aberdeen. Edinburgh has increased the share of its transport budget spent on walking and cycling from five per cent in 2012 to nine per cent currently.

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