March 2016

Thu 5 May 2016: Holyrood Election

The Holyrood election is approaching and is critical to cycling/transport policies/budgets for the next 5 years.   We’ll tell you here how to make the most of the opportunity in Edinburgh and the Lothians …
NB – this page will have more info added as it becomes available in the coming weeks

We are also supporting and working with WalkCycleVote.Scot – an umbrella group of organisations working to ensure a high profile for active travel, emphasising funding, infrastructure and safety.   WalkCycleVote hopes to contact all candidates in Scotland with the results appearing on their website, and therefore Spokes will not be attempting to get statements from local candidates.

However, we urge as many Spokes members as possible – i.e. you! – to contact and try to influence your own candidates.  Please also send us any useful replies you receive from them.

Our Number One ‘ask’logo

We fully support the top ask of WalkCycleVote – that the Scottish Parliament should increase the proportion of its transport budget allocated to Cycling and Walking from its present 1.9% to 10% by the end of the Parliament.

If Edinburgh Council can do it (initially allocating 5%, rising 1% annually to 10%) then so can the Scottish Government.  The 10% objective was originally proposed some years ago in Action on Active Travel by the Association of Directors of Public Health, a document endorsed by 110 transport, medical and other professional, expert and interested bodies ranging from the Institute of Highway Engineers to the British Heart Foundation.  The 10% figure was also adopted long ago by a range of Scottish national transport bodies in Active Travel, Active Scotland and subsequently by newer bodies such as Pedal on Parliament and Walk-Cycle-Vote.

For more background on funding, see page 3 of Spokes 124.

Other important questions/topics to raise with candidates…

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Candidates who are Spokes members [+2 others*]

*Note – We also list 2 candidates (marked *) who are not members but have done a huge amount, as elected politicians, to support cycling in recent years

  • We have tried to check the full lists of Edinburgh and Lothians candidates, but will happily correct any mistakes
  • We will not add anyone who joins Spokes after this point, though of course they will be listed in a future election if still a member and standing again
  • We also include a link to any mentions of the candidates surname on our website [NB – this picks up one or two links to other people of the same name, but it is obvious where this happens]
  • We do not endorse any candidates.   The choice is yours!
Edinburgh Central
Edinburgh North and Leith
Edinburgh Southern
Lothian Regional List

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Election pages from local councils

Including registering to vote, full lists of local candidates, important dates, etc, etc [some of this will not appear until closer to the election]

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Manifestos + Candidate views

Candidate Views

Party manifestos are probably the most important factor to consider.  However, although individual candidates can be expected to support their party manifesto, they are also individuals with their own views, and this matters too.  If an elected MSP is very supportive of cycling they will push their party to go further than their manifesto, and they will take other cycling initiatives such as on the Waverley ramp.  If most MSPs are uninterested, then there’s little chance of going beyond manifesto promises, as with the recent government budget.

WalkCycleVote has done a fantastic job asking every known candidate their personal views on 3 key issues, of which the top one is whether they support investing 10% of the transport budget in cycling & walking.  WCV have also tweeted the results so far (with 14% of candidates replying) and here we put them into a table (there were too few Rise+UKIP votes to be useful).   Please be cautious with the results as replies from candidates are not always easy to interpret, whereas manifesto promises tend to be more clear cut.  The data was correct as of 26.4.16 – see the WCV website for updates.

% of candidates from each party fully or partly supporting WCV’s asks

Issues —–>

% of candidates replying

Investment Infrastructure Road safety
Conservative     8% 50% 34% 17%
Green               15% 90% 90% 78%
Labour             23% 74% 58% 58%
LibDem            20% 44% 42% 24%
SNP                   8% 44% 55% 44%

Manifesto Ranking for Cycling and Active Travel

  • 1st     Green
  • 2nd=  Labour/LibDem
  • 4th=   Conservative/SNP
  • 6th     UKIP

NB – it was tempting to put LD=2 and Lab=3, since the LibDem manifesto is considerably more detailed on cycling.  However investment is our top issue, and the Labour manifesto feels stronger on restructuring the transport budget – and that is backed up by Labour candidate views on investment (see table above) which are much stronger than LibDem, Con or SNP.  However – please make up your own mind!

Manifesto Details – key

++ means groundbreaking,   + means good,   = means mixed/unclear,    – means poor (or unrealistic).

Italics  are direct manifesto quotes

{ }  is a Spokes comment

Conservative  {mixed good/bad}

Manifesto…  pdf   online link


  • ++ [p47]  As an overarching aim, we should work towards providing at least one segregated cycle route in each of Scotland’s seven cities, linking from outer city limits through city centres
  • = [p47]  Funding:  We will press the government for an additional £5m to be invested in the Cycling, Walking and Safer Streets local authority capital grant, which is the most direct way of supporting active travel infrastructure.  {This is valuable but a very weak commitment because it says nothing about total cycling investment, which could even fall.  Secondly, CWSS is currently £5.9m, which is near its all-time low, so £5m extra only takes it to £10.9m, not a great deal more than its previous highest of £9m – see Spokes 124, p3}
  • – [p47] Road building: the share of the transport budget going to road building must not be reduced
  • – [p29] Health policies to increase physical activity only cover sport
  • + [p35-36]  Air Passenger Duty will not be cut (but may be restructured)
  • – [xx]  No mention of pavement parking / double parking or presumed liability

Green  {excellent}

Manifesto…  pdf   online link   direct link to online transport page [p39-40]


  • ++ [p39]  10% of transport budget for walking/cycling, i.e. £220m per year  “Walking and cycling improves health and is a low-carbon form of transport. Yet of the £2.2 billion of the Scottish Government’s transport budget, less than 2% is spent on active travel. Green MSPs will propose a radical boost to this funding. 10% of the total transport budget would improve existing routes and making them safer, encouraging more people to walk and cycle. This would bring us more into line with other northern European countries, which have far higher numbers of trips made on foot or by bike and reduce air pollution which is estimated to cause over 2,500 deaths per year in Scotland.”
  • + [p39]  20mph in residential areas
  • + [p39]  cycle hubs at rail & bus stations
  • + [p39]  presumed liability
  • + [p39]  onroad cycle training for all children
  • + [p39]  airline tax to represent environmental cost
  • ++ [p40]  transfer cash from new roads to road maintenance
  • + [p40]  ban pavement parking
  • + [p31]  deposit-return system for bottles
  • + [p25]  health policies include “promote healthy habits” by “more walking and cycling routes”

Labour  {good}

Manifestopdf  online link

  • ++ [p48] Our transition to a sustainable future requires greater emphasis on public transport and active travel.  …  We will undertake a strategic review of the next generation of transport investment.  {Apart from the Greens, this is the only manifesto not to mention trunk road investment.  Obviously it would continue, but there is a clear implication of a significant restructuring with higher budgetary priority going to public transport and active travel}
  • + [p49]  We want to see more investment in active travel, not just to improve people’s transport choices, but to improve people’s health and wellbeing, and make our communities safer.  Extra investment in the City of Edinburgh is driving up active travel and we want to see more investment across the country.  {It is disappointing that a level of increase is not stated, but the inclusion of the Edinburgh example suggests a substantial improvement – Edinburgh allocated 5% of its transport budget to cycling, rising by 1% a year to 10% by 2017}.
  • + [p14]  Air Passenger Duty will be retained at its full level.  To scrap or cut it  is socially unjust and environmentally reckless.
  • – [p32]  Public health policies have a great deal about sport, nothing about active travel (though health benefits are mentioned in the transport section).
  • – [xx]  No mention of pavement parking / double parking or presumed liability

LibDem  {good}

Manifesto  pdf  online link


  • + [p27]  Increase the share of the transport budget that is spent on cycling and active transport by adding £20 million of capital spending {this would increase the proportion of the transport budget going to active travel from ~2% to ~3%}
  • ++ [p33/34 & 27]  We will use a review of the Infrastructure Investment Plan project pipeline … to advance our priorities for rail infrastructure investment to the North East and Highlands and in active travel.   We are attracted to the idea of securing savings in the road-building budget each year to devote to cycling.  {These policies suggest some restructuring of transport investment priorities towards active and sustainable transport, but such restructuring would probably not be major as the manifesto also commits to continue the existing trunk road plans}
  •  = [p27] We will make cycling and walking safer and continue to aim to meet the existing target of 10 per cent of journeys to be by bike by 2020.  {Whilst it is good to have a target, even the extra investment promised above by the LibDems is quite insufficient to meet this current government ‘vision’ in just 4 years.  See comments below under SNP manifesto}
  • + [p27]  safer streets for pedestrians and cyclists with more dedicated and segregated cycle lanes
  • + [p27]  Revise the current Cycling by Design guidelines to reflect international best practice and increase their authority to make them core national standards
  • + [p27&34]  Air Passenger Duty will not be cut and may be used to fund ‘green initiatives’
  • + [p27] “Encourage” 20mph speeds in village, town and city centres
  • + [p13]  Public health policies include promoting ‘healthy lifestyles,’ not just sport
  • + [p29]  Pilot projects on reverse vending machines – i.e. this means bottle deposits
  • – [xx]  No mention of pavement parking / double parking or presumed liability

SNP  {disappointing}

Manifesto  pdf   online link


  • = [p32]  We have put in place record investment in cycling and walking and will continue to do so over the life of the next Parliament.  {Investment in active travel was doubled from 1% to 2% of transport spending, around £40m a year, in the last Parliament.  This new promise suggests it will not be increased substantially further}
  • = [p32]  We are determined to meet our vision of 10 per cent of everyday journeys being made by bike by 2020. We will review the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (CAPS) to explore what more we can do, including on extending cycling training “bikeability” schemes for the young.  {The ‘vision’ for 10% of everyday trips to be by bike has been in place since well before the 2011 election at which the SNP gained an overall majority, yet investment has remained low, and cycle use has only risen marginally – to between 1% and 2%.  Even with massive urgent investment, it would now be almost impossible in just 4 years to achieve the vision – and massive investment is certainly not promised.  The fact that only cycle training is given as an example of new measures, and the weak promise on invesment, indicate just how far the manifesto is from a ‘determined’ strategy to reach the vision}
  • – [p14]  Over the next Parliament almost £20 billion will be invested in a major infrastructure programme designed to help build Scotland’s future  {Although this is not explicit, the infrastructure promises in this Economy chapter suggest that trunk road spending will continue at its high present level.  This infrastructure section does not mention cycling/walking, which appear only in the ‘green’ section – p32 above}
  • + [p32]  We will work to improve the integration between active and public transport  {It would be nice if this was more specific.  Currently we are seeing good improvements at stations, but big concerns about ontrain bike carriage}
  • + [p32]  We will bring forward a Transport Bill to … and to enable and enforce responsible parking.  {presumably this will be based on the Bill to ban pavement parking and double parking which was widely supported in the last Parliament, but ran out of time}
  • – [p13]  Air Passenger Duty will be cut by 50%, with a view to scrapping it entirely  {Quite apart from the very strong environmental arguments, halving APD means a loss of £125m yearly to the government, which could instead be used to give a massive boost to active and sustainable transport}
  • – [p5-6]  Public health policies have a great deal about sport, nothing about active travel (though health benefits are mentioned in the active travel section)
  • – [xx]  No mention of presumed liability
  • + [p29]  Continue to consider a deposit/return system for bottles & cans

UKIP  {very poor}

Manifesto  pdf


  • – [xx]  no mention of cycling or walking!!  UKIP aim to make travelling about Scotland more a pleasure – but whether that increased pleasure will extend to walkers or cyclists seems doubtful!
  • – [p25]  road building will be increased
  • – [p25]  both Forth Road bridges will be open to all types of traffic  {NB current plans are that the existing bridge will become public transport, taxis & cycle/walk only.  Secondly, the UKIP commitment to open both bridges to “all types of traffic” is impossible since the Scottish Government scrapped the planned walk/cycle paths on the new bridge, so it will be motor-traffic only}.
  • – [xx]  No mention of pavement parking / double parking or presumed liability

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What you can do

  • Register to vote if you are not already – see the Council links above.  A postal vote is easy to arrange and is particularly convenient if it will be awkward to get to the polling station on 5 May.
  • Email (or speak to) your candidatesFind them (and contact details) here.   If you support our main ask we suggest you ask about that.  Please send us copies of any useful responses – see below What you have done

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What you have done

As mentioned above, Spokes as an organisation is not contacting candidates for this election – Walk CycleVote is doing this.  However it is really valuable for individualssuch as you! – to contact the candidates who are seeking your vote.  Several who have done so have sent us the replies – they are nearly all about funding for cycling or about the cuts in bike/rail capacity, so we have placed them in the articles below…

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Election hustings – please go along, and ask questions!

[With a very few exceptions we only show events in Edinburgh/Lothian.  For an all-Scotland listing, see Stop Climate Chaos hustings lists and  WalkCycleVote events page]

NOTE: Many of the hustings events include refreshments at the start.  Check the links below for details, and whether the start time includes the refreshments time.

Mar 9, 7.00  / Mar 15, 6.00 [other dates now past] Transform single-party hustings

Mar 9 , 5.30  Stop Climate Chaos/ Oxfam “cafe-style” hustings [no speeches]

Mar 16, 7.30  Go-Bike hustings [Glasgow]

Mar 21, 6.45 for 7.30  SPOKES HUSTINGS  Full report  Tweet (please RT!)

Mar 24, 2-4pm  Holyrood magazine hustings on health policies

Mar 29, 9-11am  Holyrood magazine hustings on justice policies [could ask re presumed liability & road traffic offences]

Mar 30, 7-9pm  Edinburgh North & Leith candidates hustings

April 4, 6.30-8pm  ‘Speak out; people’s hustings,’ Assembly Hall – Mound Place.  Includes 3 of the party leaders.

April 5, 6-8pm  Housing/ Land use/ Planning hustings.  Scottish National Gallery, The Mound [NB – Chair Pennie Taylor is very supportive of cycling]

April 7, 6.45pm  Northfield/Willowbrae Community Centre, Northfield Road

April 7, 2-4pm  ‘Regenerating Scotland’ hustings, CoSLA conference centre

April 10, 4-5.30pm  Edinburgh Southern hustings, Community Church, 41a South Clerk Street, EH8 9NZ

Apr 13, 6-8pm ‘Environment Matters’ hustings by Scottish Environment Link.  Questions can be submitted by email or tweet.  The event will be covered using twitter hashtag #enviromatters2016.

Apr 13, 7-8.30 East Edinburgh hustings, Community Hub, 198 Restalrig Rd South

Apr 14, 7-9pm  ‘Active Citizens’ hustings, Godfrey Thomson Hall, Moray House School of Education, St John Street

Apr 14, 7.30-9pm  North Edinburgh & Leith hustings, Broughton St Mary’s Parish Church (Bellevue Crescent)  Twitter #SptHust

Apr 18, evening Climate Day online debate with party representatives [including Spokes member Sarah Boyack MSP]

Apr 19, 5.30-8.30  Hustings on the Built Environment.  Followed by wine reception.

Apr 20, 7-9pm  38 Degrees hustings, focussing initially on health.  Methodist Church, 25 Nicolson Square

Apr 20, 7-9pm  Food & Environment ‘cafe style’ hustings [panel includes Spokes member Sarah Boyack]  1 Summerhall Place

Apr 20, 7.30-9.30  Edinburgh Eastern hustings, Portobello Town Hall EH15 1AF.

Apr 21, 7-9pm  Education Hustings.  Surgeon’s Hall.   possible qns – Safe Routes to School? physical activity?

Apr 26, 7-9pm  A rather unusual hustings, to which only the parties supporting independence are invited [organised by women for independence] and mainly to discuss that issue.   However hopefully still an opportunity to raise the differences on cycling/transport between that reduced group of parties, in deciding how to vote.

Apr 26, 6.30-8.30  Hustings on the economy [opportunity to raise need for more localism, better cycling/walking connections, less long-distance travel]

Apr 28, 7.30 North Edinburgh/Leith hustings, St Mary’s Star of the Sea church, 106 Constitution Street [details are quite a way down the page or email]

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Other useful sites

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