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Local councils accused of undermining Scottish Government cycling targets as cycle lanes scrapped

A number of projects have been halted as a result of local pressure

With news that yet another major cycle project has been halted following a vote by local councillors, Herald Scotland has suggested that councils are “derailing” the Scottish Government's cycle targets.

The Bears Way was set to be a protected cycle-only lane on a commuter route from Milngavie to Glasgow. However, last week SNP, LibDem and independent councillors voted against the Labour-Conservative coalition to prevent the second phase of construction (the vote was 12-11).

Phase 1, from Burnbrae roundabout to Hillfoot along the A81, is already complete, but a petition signed by 2,600 locals is calling for even this to be ripped up.

24-hour automatic counters have been installed to monitor usage and an average of over a thousand cycle trips a week were made between November 2015 and June 2016.

This stretch was also recently recognised for 'Achievements in Cycling' at the Scottish Transport Awards.

Despite this, feelings have run so high that death threats have targeted both local cyclists and council employees involved in the development and the lane’s complete removal seems possible.

In Edinburgh, a working group is being set up to try and resolve issues with the City Centre West to East Link – formerly known as the Roseburn to Leith Walk cycle route. Uncertainty surrounds its exact route following pressure from residents angry at a potential loss of road space.

We also reported yesterday that an Ayrshire bike lane is to be ripped out. Although the kerb protected cycle track has not technically removed any road capacity or parking spaces, an unprecedented level of opposition put pressure on local councillors to vote that it be removed.

Local cyclist and Cycling UK campaigner, Drew Moyes, arguably got to the nub of the problem when he told “We don’t know whether or not, by taking it out, they intend to reinstate the previous path, which was usually filled with parked cars, meaning that cyclists were continually leapfrogging parked vehicles and into the traffic lane.”

Just over a week ago, campaigners in Scotland renewed calls for investment in infrastructure after government statistics revealed that cycling levels had dropped. The '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.

The government’s stated aim is for 10 per cent of all trips to be made by bike by 2020.

In a recent Holyrood debate, MSP Mark Ruskell said that even a small shift to cycling could have a positive effect.

“Although data on direct carbon emissions is inconclusive, the impact of even a slight modal shift to walking and cycling for short journeys makes a valuable contribution to our stumbling progress in reducing transport emissions in Scotland.”

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