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Cycling UK in Scotland says government needs to urgently invest more in infrastructure

Campaigners  have said that it is “tremendously disappointing” that Scotland will miss the target of achieving 10 per cent of journeys by bike by 2020.

The target was set in the 2010 Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (CSAP) but despite the Scottish Government’s repeated emphasis on the goal it has been clear for several years that there was no prospect of it being achieved.

Now, the country’s transport minister, Michael Matheson has officially confirmed that with just 4 per cent of everyday journeys being made by bike, the target will not be achieved.

The minister’s admission has led Cycling UK in Scotland to call on the government to urgently invest more money in cycling to make it easier and safer for people to get around by bike.

Speaking to the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood today, Matheson said: “Last year we doubled the active travel budget from £39 million to £80 million and we have maintained this record funding again this year to increase the speed of change in the number of people walking and cycling and to develop an Active Nation.

“While we are unlikely to reach 10 per cent of all journeys made by bike by 2020, our ambitious push has led to good results in some areas, with Edinburgh now seeing rates of cycling at 9.8 per cent.

“Infrastructure is key and I’m delighted that a record sum of money, £51 million prior to match funding, will be invested into Scotland’s communities through the Places For Everyone programme. I look forward to seeing the scale of ambition demonstrated by Scotland’s local authorities when the announcement is made in the coming months.”

Jim Densham, Cycling UK’s Campaigns and Policy Manager for Scotland, said: "We are tremendously disappointed that the vision for 10% of everyday journeys to be made by bike will not be met next year. We now need much greater clarity on what the government proposes to do to fulfil that vision and by when.

“A great deal of effort has been made by many organisations to encourage more people to cycle. Whilst the increased budget for active travel was widely welcomed, this announcement shows just how much more action is needed to meet the vision anytime soon.

“With only around 4 per cent of everyday journeys currently made by bike, it’s clear that further investment and action is urgently needed by the government to match it’s statements on the climate emergency,” he continued.

“A welcome first step would be to make additional funding available to progress all viable ‘Place for Everyone’ bids immediately, because we know it takes time for tarmac to be laid on cycle routes and for people to start using them.

“We commend the government vision but it is action that’s needed now to create a network of separated cycle paths across our cities and major towns to enable anyone of any age or ability to cycle, support people to walk safely, improve air quality, reduce congestion and allows our communities to flourish," he added.

John Lauder, deputy national director of Sustrans Scotland, said that the sustainable transport charity “warmly welcomes the Cabinet Secretary’s announcement of funding of £51 million for infrastructure for walking and cycling. 

“We have seen real ambition in the applications from local authorities and other stakeholders for our new Places for Everyone infrastructure funding programme, which allows recipients of funding to double their budgets by matching their funding with Transport Scotland’s funds,” he continued.

“This increased funding means that local authorities and other stakeholders such as community development trusts can make it easier for people to walk, cycle and wheel by delivering safe, well designed, high quality infrastructure.”

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.