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Scotland revises action plan for cycling

Chris Peck's picture
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The Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (CAPS), first published in 2009, set out the ambitious vision for 10% of trips to be made by bike by 2020. Over a third of the time has passed, but Scotland's modal share has barely increased.
The refreshed Cycling Action Plan for Scotland
The refreshed Cycling Action Plan for Scotland

The revised plan hasn't changed significantly: the vision for 10% remains, and the actions are a mix of infrastructure and promotion.

Unfortunately, the main problem - lack of money to see the Plan through to reality - remains a problem. Although the report acknowledges that £5-10 per head is required to sustain increases in cycling, no commitment is made to fund at that level.

Instead, the document talks of "a very tight fiscal climate" and says that "the overall transport budget must reflect existing contractual requirements, planned maintenance and upgrades and reflect transport priorities for each mode." In other words: cycling must accept its tiny slice of the cake, while Transport Scotland gets on with more important things, like building additional, £790m bridges across the Firth of Forth, and turning rural roads into dual carriageways.

Reducing the large number of short car journeys and replacing them with journeys on bikes, or other forms of active transport, has the potential to both improve our fitness and health, benefitting health budgets in the longer term.

Keith Brown MSP
Minister for Transport

There have been powerful campaigning movements in Scotland, with the coalition Pedal on Parliament running massively successful lobbying rides over the last two years, the last - in May 2013 - bringing out over 4,000 cyclists onto the streets of Edinburgh.

This campaign has bolstered political support for cycling, and may well have ensured that the CAPS vision has been sustained and refreshed, rather than quietly forgotten.

In addition to continuing training and infrastructural programmes, the new CAPS promises to hold an annual summit on cycling to co-ordinate senior local authority and government figures. It also promises to roll out 20 mph limits "in all residential areas" across the country.

Many of these, and other measures are sensible steps, but without adequate funding neither they, nor the huge changes to infrastructure required to sustain behaviour change will be achieved.

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