The Scottish Government has an ambitious target of having 10% of all journeys be by bike in Scotland by 2020 (well, we say ambitious – it’s ambitious in UK terms, where around 2% of trips are by bike; compared to the Netherlands where already 27% of trips are by bike it’s a little feeble). This is part of the Scottish Government’s plan to meet its statutory climate change emission targets, and to tackle obesity, a growing problem across the country. The SNP manifesto for the election last year promised to increase the proportion of transport spending on active and sustainable travel, including cycling. This would be welcome because even after a record year of spending last year, the amount spent on cycling per head in Scotland from all sources has been £4 per head – nothing like the £10 per head that would be the minimum needed to achieve significant levels of cycling (according to research by Cycling England – more details here).
So now that the election is over, what has happened? The transport budget as a whole will go up from £1804 million in 2011-12 to £1884 million in 2012-13. Spending on motorways and trunk routes will rise by 17% from £558 million to £655 million. And spending on active travel, including cycling? That will fall – from an estimated £17.5 million to £14 million, or 0.74% of the overall spend.
The breakdown is as follows (all figures provided by Spokes who have done an excellent job of teasing out the details):
- Sustainable and Active Travel is to be cut from £25.1 million to £16.0 million. Assuming the proportion spent on active travel (currently 32%) stays the same, this means £5 million for both cycling and walking.
- The Scottish Futures Fund will be £6.5 million – of which £1 million is likely to go on active travel.
- The future of Cycling, Walking and Safer Streets – the ringfenced money given to Local Authorities for active travel – is still under review. Even if it survives and remains ringfenced, given the overall cut to local authority funding, it is likely to be no more than £6 million
- The Trunk Road Cycling initiative is assumed to stay the same at £2 million (although there are rumours that this too may be scrapped.
This is not a party political point. Whether you’re an SNP voter or not, the fact is that a manifesto promise is being broken here and more importantly that a key government target will almost certainly be missed. We urge every Scottish voter reading this to write to their local MSP and lobby them to make the Scottish Government deliver on its election promises.