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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.”

John 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 Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for 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 before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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Al__S | 10 years ago

In some areas the focus needs to be on "missing links"- eg there's now a decent quiet/traffic free route from Alloa to Stirling, except for crossing the A91 and along the A907 to Causwayhead. My mother's brave enough to cycle this, but would much prefer a route under the A91 and along seperate to the road. I reckon completing this (and resurfacing the length of the old A907 now used as a cycleway!) could cause a revolution in how people get into Stirling from Clackmannanshire- there's already lots more cyclists in Clacks since the council started making decent links between towns and villages.

a.jumper | 10 years ago

So even at its peak, that's only just over £5/person/year. Well below the recommended £10-20. It's a start but not enough.

Cyclic | 10 years ago

Be interesting to see what is done North of the Central Belt. I wonder how Aberdeenshire will use any cash to make cycling safer in the shire? Probably paint some lines on the road but hopefully we will see real investment.

Ottadini | 10 years ago

I was at the first 'Scottish Cycle Summit' yesterday in Edinburgh where the funding was announced. A welcome investment and given the Social Return On Investment you get from spending on cycle infrastructure it will hopefully lead to future cycle budgets ratcheting up as the impact is felt.
Hope the new cash will fund smaller initiatives and not just the big exemplar projects like the £3.6m for Edinburgh, otherwise councils with little to bring to the table as match funding will be excluded.
Minister signalled a shift away from big road building projects to active travel and road maintenance investment going forward but we'll see..
One area I did highlight was the ongoing 'postcode lottery' for Bikeability training in Scotland. The volunteer model of delivery only really works if there is effective co-ordination and some local authorities are on as low as 5% of pupils getting on-road training which is dismal. Infrastructure on its own is not going to make the difference where only 1 child in 20 has the skills and confidence to travel by bike!

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