February 2013

10% by 2020: Vision or Target?

The Scottish Government wants 10% of all journeys to be by bike in 2020.  Is this a ‘vision’ or a ‘target’? …

[Update 23.5.13 … In reply to a Question in Parliament today by Spokes member Alison Johnstone MSP (General Question Time, Q10) about funding “to deliver its own commitment to 10 per cent of all journeys being made by bike by 2020,” Transport Minister Keith Brown replied that the refreshed Cycling Action Plan for Scotland, soon-to-be published, “will contain our plans—not the definitive last word on our plans—to ensure that we achieve those targets.”  (our emphasis) ]

This has recently been in dispute, and is not a matter of pure semantics.  If 10% by 2020 is merely a ‘vision’  then the government will merely be disappointed if it is not met.  If it is a ‘target’  they will have failed if it is not met.  In fact, from the very outset, it has been a target as well as a vision.

The original announcement by then Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson MSP at the Dreams on Wheels Scottish Government Danish conference in March 2009, as reported in our Bulletin 103, was of a target.  Although we don’t have a transcript of that speech, in response to a June 2009 Spokes letter, Mr Stevenson’s reply stated that the 10% “vision … is an ambitious target …”

The status of the 10% figure has grown.   It became a milestone towards meeting climate emissions in the government’s Low Carbon Scotland RPP1 document [section 2.6], an important element of the government’s public health strategy Preventing Overweight and Obesity in Scotland [section 6.12], and was increasingly referred to by Ministers as a target.  If it is not met, then those other top-level government strategies are at risk [and indeed the first climate target has already been missed].

Giving evidence on the budget to the Scottish Parliament Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee on 7 November 2012 [col 1076] Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Capital Investment and Cities, Nicola Sturgeon MSP stated clearly, as reported in the Official Record,

… it is worth reflecting on the fact that we are committed to the 10 per cent target  … targets are not easy to meet or there would be no point in setting them, but we have commitment and determination. We have a lot of work to do throughout Scotland in order to deliver…

So – very clearly it is a target (as well as a vision) and the government has ‘commitment and determination’  to achieve it.

Unfortunately under current funding levels the target will not be achieved.  Our submission to the CAPS Refresh consultation makes this clear [section 4.2] and also describes other essential measures to set Scotland on track to achieving significantly higher levels of cycle use by a wide range of the population, not just the young, fit and confident!

The Deputy First Minister’s on-the-record remarks above could not be clearer – 10% by 2020 remains a target, and a target to which the Scottish Government is ‘committed.’

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