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Charities call for Scottish Government to prioritise active travel

Earlier this week, eight walking and cycling charities called on the Scottish Government to stop building new roads in Scotland and to instead provide more street space for cyclists and pedestrians. The Highland Council said the statement was ‘naïve’.

The joint National Transport Strategy joint response came from Cycling Scotland, Cycling UK, Forth Environment Link, Living Streets, Paths for All, Ramblers Scotland, Sustrans Scotland and Transform Scotland.

As well as calling for a halt on investment in new trunk roads, they asked that walking, cycling and public transport be prioritised over cars.

They identified six priorities for Scotland’s National Transport Strategy:

  • Give more space to walking and segregated cycling 
  • End new road building and prioritise active and sustainable travel
  • Deliver affordable and integrated public transport
  • Planning for better land use
  • Support behaviour change
  • Improve access to bikes

Highland Council convener Bill Lobban told Holyrood.com: “These organisations are based in the central belt, where the road networks are more extensive and there are more public transport options than commuters and businesses in the Highlands have.

“I feel it is very naïve to issue such a statement without understanding the challenges and particular circumstances of everyone who would be affected if all road improvements stopped.

“We have campaigned for many years to see the A9 between Perth and Inverness dualled as it improves our link to the rest of Scotland, helps the economy and will improve safety.

“With work on this project and the work on the A96 route from Inverness to Aberdeen underway, we want to see it completed and will continue working with Transport Scotland and our partners HITRANS to ensure the Highlands has the investment in vital infrastructure it needs.”

The chair of the Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS), Allan Henderson, added: “In making their comments these organisations are aiming to divert funds from these desperately needed infrastructure projects.

“As a council we are supportive of encouraging all modes of transport including walking, cycling and public transport.

“We are currently working in partnership with Sustrans on several exciting projects including Inverness City Active Travel Network, Wick Street Design, Dingwall 20mph schemes to name a few.

“We also work closely with Paths for All’s Smarter Choices Smarter Places fund to deliver behaviour change work and to support our partners Velocity to encourage active travel in our region.

“However, we also need to ensure that the main arterial routes leading to the Highlands, and our own network of roads keeps our communities connected and allows Highland based businesses to flourish.”

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