October 2014

Scottish Budget – Spokes submission

Spokes has urged the Parliament’s ICI Committee to take a tougher line on active travel investment…

The Infrastructure and Capital Investment Committee is scrutinising the Scottish Government’s draft budget, from a transport perspective.

The Spokes submission is here [pdf 265k] and submissions by other organisations can be found here.

We have already commented on the draft budget’s lack of clarity on active travel, and the likelihood of a fall in active travel funding – particularly for infrastructure.   Our budget submission expands on this.

Main points in the submission are…

  • [Section 3]  We estimate (using several assumptions, given the budget’s lack of clarity) that active travel government investment will fall from £40m in 14/15 to £37m in 15/16 …
  • … and, within that, infrastructure investment may fall from £36m to perhaps as little as £28m
  • … but, even if investment stayed at its 14/15 peak, this is quite inadequate to achieve the kind of growth in cycle use which the government says it wants
  • [Section 1]  If the ICI Cttee again decides to support higher active travel funding it must say where the cash will come from – otherwise Ministers will again, perhaps understandably, refuse even to consider its recommendation
  • [Section 2] We comment again on the Cabinet Secretary’s budget speech to Parliament.   Our evidence suggests that much – perhaps most – of the “additional £10m” he announced for “cycling and walking infrastructure” may not in fact be for infrastructure.   It is also very arguable to what extent it is “additional.”

… and commenting on three National Indicators specified by the Committee

  • [Section 4.1] There is no hope that current levels of cycling investment will bring about anything like the government’s ambition (which [4.2] Nicola Sturgeon MSP called a “target”) for 10% of all trips to be by bike by 2020
  • … Spokes goes along with the over 100 organisations, ranging from the Institute of Highway Engineers to the British Heart Foundation, led by the Association of Directors of Public Health, who call on the government to invest 10% of its transport budget in active travel (walking + cycling).  The current figure is 1%-2%
  • [Section 4.2] Cycle use can play a useful role in reducing transport’s carbon emissions – indeed the government itself include the 10% cycle-use 2020 ambition as a ‘milestone’ on the route to lower carbon emissions
  • [Section 4.3] Cycle use – for personal travel and for transport of goods – can help fight congestion, and can provide reliable journey times even in congested conditions.


We are now only at the start of the budget process.   Pressure from MSPs on the government can change things – as cycling organisations have achieved in some previous years – notably the first SNP budget, which initially proposed serious cuts in cycling investment.

Please email your MSPs now – explain why cycling infrastructure investment matters to you – and to them.

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