Cycle campaigners in Edinburgh and throughout Scotland are calling on the Scottish Government to increase spending on active travel.
Campaign group SPOKES has been encouraging local cyclists to lobby their MSPs to demand that a greater proportion of Scottish Government money is allocated towards cycling infrastructure.
The Scottish Government has set an ambitious national target that 10% of all journeys should be made by bicycle by 2020. And despite a manifesto pledge to boost spending on active travel made just months ago, campaigners claim that the “budget reality” of proposals put forwards by the SNP shows that spending will fall from 1.1% of funding to a “near invisible” 0.8% of transport funding.
In previous years the Scottish Government has provided ring-fenced funds to encourage local authorities to invest in cycle infrastructure. It has also directly funded national charity, SUSTRANS, to build cycle routes.
In Edinburgh, this funding has seen around £1million spent on cycle infrastructure in the last year alone and recent surveys have shown that this investment is paying off, with significant increases in the numbers of people choosing to cycle in the city.
The SPOKES campaign has caught the attention of Government Ministers. In response to questions raised by a local MSP Jim Eadie in Holyrood, Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “I am aware of the rising number of cyclists in Edinburgh. I take this opportunity to praise City of Edinburgh Council members and officers for their commitment and leadership in making the city such an active travel success story.
“I recently had the chance to cycle into the city on an excellent cycle route. To my mind, the other local authorities should look closely at what Edinburgh has done and try to follow suit.”
However, Councillor Gordon MacKenzie, has made it clear that if that if the Scottish Government does cut active travel funds, such as the Cycle, Walking and Safer Streets fund, then it will have an impact on plans to improve conditions for cyclists in the city.
He said: “We’ve not got the final settlement details yet from the Scottish Government, but I would say that the Cycle, Walking and Safer Streets fund has been a very important catalyst in helping to drive forwards improvemen