Cycling UK is calling on the next Scottish Government to commit 10 per cent of the country’s transport budget to cycling and walking – but with polls suggesting that the SNP will retain its Holyrood majority, that would need a four-fold increase on the proportion of total transport spend currently allocated to active travel.
Along with publishing its manifesto for cycling, the charity is also urging people to sign an online petition that calls for more safe space for cycling to make travelling by bike an easy and attractive option for short trips, as well as greater emphasis on helping those living in rural areas to cycle.
Jim Densham, Cycling UK’s policy and campaigns manager for Scotland, commented: “During the Covid-19 lockdown we saw a huge increase in cycling as people were encouraged to take physical activity and found their local roads were less busy and felt safer. But many more people don’t yet cycle who could or who want to cycle.
“It’s time for the next Scottish Government to invest in the cycling infrastructure and safety improvements needed so that more people can cycle and experience its benefits. Investment to create new space for cycling will improve the nation’s health, create jobs, support local economies and contribute to getting Scotland back on its feet after the Covid pandemic.”
The SNP, which has held power at Holyrood since 2011, is currently predicted by pollsters to be returned with a majority of the 129 seats for the third election in a row.
The Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (CAPS), launched in 2010 under the previous Labour and Liberal Democrat coalition and subsequently revised twice, most recently in 2017, set out a ‘2020 Vision’ of 10 per cent of trips in the country being undertaken by bicycle by the end of the decade.
However, the funding needed to achieve that has never materialised despite the urging of campaigners including Pedal on Parliament, launched in 2012, which has called on the Scottish Government to commit 10 per cent of the country’s transport budget to cycling.
In its 2020/21 budget, the Scottish Government allocated £85 million to active travel – but that equates to just 2.5 per cent of the total spend on transport of £3,445.7 million.
The failure to back up pledges to increase cycling with the money that would help bring that about means that nationally, levels of cycling including commuting remain low, although there are
The 2020 Annual Cycling Monitoring Report from Cycling Scotland showed that in 2018, 1.4 per cent of people cycled as a main mode of travel, compared to an average of 1.0 per cent between 2009–2011.
The same report found that 5.3 per cent of people cycled to work regularly in 2018, compared to 4.2 per cent in 2011.
The highest levels of cycling to work usually or regularly were found in the City of Edinburgh, at 12.9 per cent, and in the Highland council area, around a quarter of the population of which live in and around Inverness, at 11.9 per cent.
Dumfries & Galloway, Dundee City and Angus, all on 6.7 per cent, East Dunbartonshire with 6.5 per cent, Scottish Borders at 6.3 per cent and Glasgow City with 6 per cent are the local authority areas with the next highest levels of commuting by bike.
North Ayrshire, at 0.9 per cent, is the sole local authority area in the country where the percentage of people travelling to work by bike falls below 1 per cent.
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.