November 2009

Scottish Parliament Inquiry – Spokes submission

In response to the Parliament’s Active Travel Inquiry Spokes calls for greatly increased funding for cycle projects, and improved ways of delivering the funding.

The Scottish Parliament’s Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Committee has set up an Inquiry into Active Travel.   The Spokes response to the Active Travel Inquiry is now available.

The Inquiry follows widespread concern that the Scottish Government is not taking cycling (or walking) seriously as a form of transport – Spokes research, commended by the independent Scottish Parliament Information Service SPICe, has shown that investment levels are extremely low.   In 2008 the Committee, in its Budget Report, recommended increased Active Travel funding, and that the Spokes proposals be considered as a way of achieving this – but this recommendation was ignored by the government.

The Scottish Government meanwhile has set an unfunded-target of 10% of all trips to be by bike by 2020, and has consulted on a Cycling Action Plan which included no guarantee of funding.   However the Spokes submission to the Inquiry points to evidence that a crucial prerequisite for high levels of cycle use is a road system which looks, feels and is safe and welcoming for getting about by bike for everyday journeys – and that means funding, and well-targeted funding.

The evidence also points to the need for land-use planning which supports compact towns and cities, with restrictions on excessive car use in such areas.   Promotional measures – maps, training, bike hire, travel advice, etc – can also help greatly, but are unlikely to be truly effective and maintained in the long term without the prerequisite of a safe and welcoming road system.

Spokes will also be giving oral evidence to the Inquiry, on November 24th, where we hope to emphasise the points in the written submission.

We urge concerned readers to submit their own views to the Inquiry.   A brief response giving your views is all that is needed, and can easily be made online – you don’t need a major piece of work like ours!  The Committee has issued 6 questions – just submit your thoughts on any or all of these questions, or on anything you think has been missed out.   Full details of the questions and the email address for responses are on the Committee pages of the Scottish Parliament website.   On that page you can also find a link to all submissions made so far.  The final date for submissions is Friday 11 December.

Separately, Spokes has also made a submission on the Scottish Government’s draft 2010-11 budget, which will be decided before the Inquiry report and so is particularly urgent.   Unless the budget is modified the government will get away with yet another year of low and declining cycling investment – short emails to your MSPs on this are really important in November and December.

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