February 2022

#SpokesMtg: Traffic Reduction commitments in Scotland & Edinburgh

The Scottish Government has made a remarkable “commitment” to reducing car-kilometres by 20% over the 2019 pre-covid figures, by year 2030 – primarily as a response to the climate crisis, although with many additional side-benefits for public health and community. Edinburgh City Council has followed this up with a 30% ambition – albeit a “target” rather than a commitment.

Our online public meeting on Monday 21 February [7.30-9.30pm] brings together Scottish Government Minister Patrick Harvie MSP, responsible for active travel policies and Cllr Lesley Macinnes, the City’s Transport Convener, to explain, debate and be challenged on the route to achieving these very tough ambitions.

Dr Caroline Brown, member of Spokes and of the Transform Scotland policy forum, will critique the government and council approaches; and this will be followed by our usual hour of debate between the panel members, prompted by your questions. The QA/debate will be chaired by Dr Sam Gardner, head of the Edinburgh Climate Commission.

Register (free) for the meeting here. Register now, in advance, so that you don’t miss the start of the meeting.

The Scottish Government 20% car-km reduction commitment first appeared over a year ago, December 2020, in the Climate Change Plan Update. From the outset we recognised [section 2(b)] that this was a very bold ambition which we said “will demand exceptional determination and commitment.”

A ‘route map’ of actions to achieve the 20% was published in January 2022, and is now out for public consultation [please respond!] Already a whole year, a 1/10th of the time to 2030, has passed since the commitment was made, with little attempt so far to engage the public. Moreover, 2021 was a year in which car use fell significantly, due to Covid, presenting an opportunity to lock in the benefits. Instead it has been allowed to re-assert itself, and indeed there is some evidence of car travel moving into new areas as former car commuters who now work from home use their car in the day for local trips such as shopping or school.

On the positive side, the Route Map includes an analysis of the need for traffic reduction which could have been written by a campaigner! However its actions concentrate heavily on the ‘carrots’ approach initially (improving non-car options) and only move to significant measures to deter unnecessary car use much later, with a Framework for Car Demand Management not to be published until 2025. In our view, demand-management measures [for example, see 2.2 here] should be introduced and explained to the public in parallel with the carrots of improved active travel, public transport and digital connectivity opportunities, so that people see and understand the quid pro quo and do not settle into a new pattern of continuing car use despite improved sustainable opportunities.

Furthermore, the public will be confused by continuing political assurances that road expansion such as A9 dualling and big local road schemes (e.g. Sheriffhall in our area) are still going ahead. Why spend many £100m’s on expanding road capacity to cater for a 20% reduction in car-km??

Edinburgh’s 30% reduction in car-km by 2030 was agreed as a target at the 11.11.21 Transport Committee. The Council aims to meet this through actions in the City Mobility Plan (CMP), with progress (or not) being reported every two years. The CMP is part of a wider policy package including the City Plan (not yet final), 2030 Climate Strategy and the 20-minute neighbourhood strategy. Nonetheless, a more specific ‘route map’ to reach the target would be welcome and might elicit suggestions and constructive criticism.

CMP does include politically challenging ‘demand-management’ measures including roadspace reallocation on arterial roads and a workplace parking levy. Councillors will need to show continuing courage to introduce such measures as rapidly as possible – and will need supported if and when they do so.

At the meeting
  • Minister Patrick Harvie MSP and Cllr Lesley Macinnes will each introduce their traffic reduction ambitions and policies
  • Dr Caroline Brown will then offer a critique of the policies
  • Our 45/60-minute QA session will then be chaired by Dr Sam Gardner
  • The meeting starts at 7.30pm and is expected to end no later than 9.30pm
  • We are using GoWebinar software (kindly supplied and operated by Cycling UK Scotland). Your own microphone and video are automatically muted, and there is no chat function.
  • Questions can be submitted in advance by emailing spokes@spokes.org.uk with subject line  Spokes meeting question. You can also submit questions during the meeting, using the questions box in the webinar’s Control Panel.
Joining the meeting
  • To attend the meeting, please register in advance (you can do this once the meeting has started, but you may lose a few minutes of the meeting)
  • Register by clicking here
  • The registration page has a sentence about payment – ignore this, the meeting is free
  • You will be sent an email with a ‘Join Webinar’ button. This link is unique to you, so don’t pass it on
  • On the day, your link will be live from 7.15pm
  • Click the Join Webinar button in your link
  • On the next page, click Open GoTo Opener
  • If the meeting has not yet started, you will see a page asking you to wait – the meeting will then automatically begin at around 7.30
  • If you have problems with the registration process, or want a fuller explanation, see this step-by-stepguide to using the software (the guide uses a different meeting as its example).
After the meeting (and/or before!!)
  • The meeting will be recorded and available later on our YouTube channel
  • We’d love you to join Spokes! You’ll receive a roughly-monthly all-member email covering the whole range of Spokes activities, events, stalls, Spokes maps, and of course information about current consultations to respond to if they affect you.
  • If you are a Spokes member, get in touch if you’d like to become an active member of our Planning Group, which responds officially to relevant local and national consultations. We will of course be responding to the current Scottish Government traffic reduction Route Map consultation.
Please help publicise the meeting
Thank you!
  • A big thank-you to Cycling UK Scotland for providing and running the webinar software for the meeting

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