Scottish activists welcome increased cycling funding

Extra £10m per year found for next two years.

Cycling activists north of the border have cautiously welcomed today's Scottish government announcement of £20 million in extra funding for cycling over the next two years.

Campaign group Pedal on Parliament acknowledged it had been accused of always being critical of government initiatives and said: “We’re going to break the habit of a lifetime and welcome today’s announcement.

“An extra £20 million (over the next two years) has been found in the latest draft budget, and as the minister has said, it is all going to go on building infrastructure for cycling, specifically the Sustrans Community Links programme.

“Of that, £3.6 million is to go on what has been described as ‘an exemplar commuter corridor’ along Leith Walk.

“Today’s announcement shows both how far we’ve come – and how far we’ve still to go on our journey towards a cycle-friendly Scotland.”

Lothian cycle campaign Spokes examined the funding in detail to make sure that the government wasn’t cooking the books by re-announcing previously planned funding.

Spokes said: “The draft budget published recently included £10m ‘extra’ for active travel investment in each of 14/15 and 15/16, but due to the obscurity of the budget it was not clear if some of this was just re-announcing existing money.

“In response to complaints by Green MSP Patrick Harvie, Finance Secretary John Swinney MSP provided a breakdown.  Whilst this breakdown itself is somewhat complex, Spokes can confirm that it is all money not previously announced.”

However, Spokes cautioned that the new funding still falls short of that needed to achieve government targets.

“The total is still nothing like what is needed to give any hope of the government meeting its own target for 10% of all journeys to be by bike in 2020.

“For 15/16, unfortunately, the picture is less rosy than it sounds. Certainly, there is £10m ‘new money,’ but £5m of other 14/15 money (so called Barnett Consequentials) is no longer there. Thus total Scottish Government cycling investment, in very rough round terms, looks like this:

2012/13  £18m
2013/14  £20m
2014/15  £30m
2015/16  £25m"

Spokes suggests that funding for active travel needs to continue growing past 2014/15.

Announcing the new funding, Scottish transport minister Keith Brown said: “This new additional funding demonstrates the Scottish Government’s commitment to delivering infrastructure to make cycling a safe and realistic travel choice.”

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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