With the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections being held on Thursday 5 May 2016, I have decided that it is time to ask the candidates where they stand on Active Travel. In the past I have made a few suggestions as to what a manifesto for active travel should include, such as this post from 2010 and this from 2011. However, this time round I have been involved with a campaign called We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote AKA #WalkCycleVote. We believe these three pledges will transform Scotland for active travel
- Investment: Provide sustained, long term investment in both cycling and walking, reaching 10% of the transport budget.
- Infrastructure: Build and maintain dedicated cycling infrastructure, enabling people aged 8-80 to cycle.
- Safety: Promote and deliver safer roads for both walking and cycling.
More detail can be found here.
As a genuine floating vote, I really haven’t decided who I am going to vote for yet. I have been e-mailing the candidates standing for election to ask where stand on Active Travel. Using the #WalkCycleVote’s handy Find your candidates page, I have been sending the following message to the candidates.
[Subject]Where do you stand on Active travel?
As a voter in the Edinburgh Central and the Lothian region, I would like to know about your and your party’s position on active travel?
There are three thing I would like to see:
Investment: Provide sustained, long term investment in both cycling and walking, reaching 10% of the transport budget.
Infrastructure: Build and maintain dedicated cycling infrastructure, enabling people aged 8-80 to cycle.
Safety: Promote and deliver safer roads for both walking and cycling.
I have attached a pdf which give more details in case you are interested. Can you tell me where you send on these three policy asks?
First replies coming via Twitter:
First e-mail from Alison Johnstone (Green Party)
Dear Sally, Kim and all at Walk, Cycle, Vote,
Many thanks for writing to me about active travel policies ahead of the Holyrood elections in May. While the Greens have a small team compared with some others, I would very much like to have been able to get answers to you sooner, as I certainly have enjoyed working hard on this issue with you in recent years.
I am happy to restate my long-standing and unwavering commitment to deliver the investment, infrastructure and safety that is required of a modern country’s active travel infrastructure.
The Scottish Green Party has a long-standing commitment to spend at least 10% of Scotland’s transport budget on cycling and walking infrastructure, to put us on a course that would bring us up to the standard seen in many European countries where cycling rates are notably higher than our own. As Co-convenor of the Cross Party Group on Cycling during the previous parliamentary term, I frequently pressed the Transport Minister and the Finance Secretary to scale up their ambition.
It is simply unacceptable that in a transport spending of around £2 billion each year, cycle funding makes up less than 2% of this total. Since 2011/12, the trunk roads budget has increased by 36%, and yet cycle funding has plateaued, despite widespread concern that the Scottish Government is not on track to meet its 2020 target of 10% of journeys by bike.
To honour climate change commitments made in Paris, and for the sake of bringing our infrastructure into line with that of many of our European cousins, we must take a different approach to transport in general, and active travel in particular. I very much share public concerns that spending on trunk roads will increase while support for public transport and active travel shrinks.
While an MSP for Lothian, I lodged an amendment to a Government debate motion on Active Travel (a copy is included below) and I was pleased that it was selected for debate. The full report of the debate can be found here. More recently I asked a question about how the Scottish Government works with local authorities to address dangerously high air pollution levels, given that increasing the levels of cycling and walking is among the vital steps to take. You can read more about this here.
Part of our ambition must be to deliver a transport network that can best serve the needs of the public in their daily lives, and I believe that an integrated approach to walking, cycling, and public transport infrastructure is the way forward. Recent research demonstrates a link between air pollution and heart disease and makes this a matter of extreme urgency.
Increased capacity and flexibility for the carriage of bicycles and other larger items is long overdue in my opinion, so it is a frustration to see missed opportunities for creating a more ambitious and user-friendly transport network, such as when new rolling stock is under consideration. Active methods of travel, such as cycling, should be an option for people taking longer journeys that require additional means of transport, and an integrated approach to transport policy is vital.
Please be assured that I am determined to do all I can to improve cycle safety and provision, and encourage more people to choose to take the healthy, active and environmentally-friendly option of cycling.
I am certainly intending to attend this year’s PoP, so thank you for the invitation.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me in the future if I can be of assistance, or if you have any specific ideas or concerns about cycling in Scotland.
*S4M-11980.2 Alison Johnstone: Active Travel—As an amendment to motion S4M-11980 in the name of Derek Mackay (Active Travel), insert at end “; reaffirms the Scottish Government’s target of 10% of journeys to be made by bike by 2020; notes the estimate by Spokes that active travel funding in the 2015-16 draft budget is lower than in the previous year; calls on the Scottish Government to reverse this cut and substantially increase funding for active travel; notes the ongoing debate and research into the introduction of presumed liability in relation to road accidents, and urges local authorities to meet growing demand for high-quality walking and cycling infrastructure, extend 20mph speed limits in built-up areas and provide walking and cycling training opportunities to every child in Scotland”.
Next reply from Alison Dickie (SNP)
Lovely to hear from you. I think it would be useful to set out my own personal views on this and the wider SNP position.
I am absolutely committed to supporting sustainable development in Scotland and recognise that active travel has a vital role to play in ensuring we meet the needs of the present, with due consideration for future generations. The health benefits of active travel are obvious to me, as is tackling congestion and air pollution.
I live in the Edinburgh Central constituency and like quite a number of Edinburgh residents, I tend to walk everywhere I go. I am also very supportive of cycling and understand how safer routes will encourage more take-up of cycling, and I have often commented on that myself.
The SNP are investing over £1bn annually in public transport and other sustainable transport options to encourage people out of their car. We have also committed to a £5bn programme of investment in Scotland’s railways over 5 years to 2019, double that planned by UK ministers on a per capita basis. This significant investment will also help make our roads safer by reducing congestion.
Specifically, in respect of cycling, the SNP are passionate about making active and sustainable travel part of everyday life in Scotland. We are committed to a vision of 10% of everyday journeys being undertaken by bike by 2020, which is set out in the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (CAPS). We are investing almost £36m in 2015/2016 to help support delivery of this ambition. This represents an increase of 70% on 2013/2014, at a time where Scotland’s overall capital budget has decreased by 26%. We are also working with partners to make Scotland’s roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists, to encourage people to choose to travel actively. You can read more about CAPS at the link below.
A third version of CAPS will be published later this year. To help support CAPS, we have held two Ministerial Cycling Summits and one Active Travel Summit since 2013, honouring our commitment in CAPS to bring together Local Authority Heads of Transportation and the relevant chair of Local Authority Committees, and active travel stakeholders. Looking forward, we will extend the Future Transport Fund (FTF), which supports the development of priority active travel infrastructure projects in partnership with local authorities.
I hope that helps confirm our commitment to active travel and the support that cycling is receiving under an SNP Scottish Government committed to encouraging healthier and greener travel.
Alison Dickie for Edinburgh Central
Sarah Boyack (Lab)
Dear Kim, many thanks for raising the issue of how we promote active travel.
I have supported and promoted active travel and cycling policy and investment since my election in 1999.
I was the Scottish Parliament’s first Transport Minister in the first Scottish Parliament in 1999 and created new funds for safer streets, walking and cycling. I believe that a key challenge is delivering sustained investment by both local authorities and the Scottish Government over the next 10-15 years, if we are to deliver the transformation we need to see people of all ages being more active and making healthier, greener travel choices.
Scotland is nowhere near achieving its active travel goals to achieve 10% of all journeys travelled by cycle and 35% of all journeys by foot by 2020. My colleague David Stewart recently called for 1% of the £690m trunk road budget to be transferred to the Active Travel budget but unfortunately this fell upon deaf ears.
Given the huge benefits cycling brings to people’s health and the positive impact it has on air pollution and traffic congestion, I believe we should be doing far more to encourage people to take it up and to improve the infrastructure for existing cyclists. I agree we need to enable cycling for all ages and investment needs to start in our schools. I’m also keen to see more promotion of cycling for women and I support the recent focus on this in the cycling community.
It’s also important that we improve people’s travel options whether for work or leisure to ensure that walking and cycling are better integrated with reliable, accessible public transport across the whole of Scotland. That’s why Scottish Labour will make it easier and cheaper to get to work with a single ticket that can be used on buses, trains, trams, underground and ferries. If it can be done in London – it can be done in Scotland.
I recently wrote to the Scottish Government’s Transport Minister Derek McKay to express my concerns about Transport Scotland’s decision to downgrade cycle capacity on the Edinburgh-Glasgow service. Given the increased demand on Edinburgh to Glasgow for commuters we should be planning for extra, not reduced capacity. Having supported reopening the Borders Rail line I’ve also been committed to ensuring it has flexible space on carriages so that we can maximise the opportunity of promoting tourism and leisure opportunities in the Borders.
Our local councils have an important role in improving safety for cyclists. I support Edinburgh Council’s approach of reducing the speed limit to 20mph on selected streets and their increasing allocation of transport spending on investment.
As a former town planner I believe that we still have a long way to go in designing new buildings and public spaces to make active travel more attractive, whether its residential, work and shopping areas.
In addition to promoting active travel to work we should also be doing more to support new opportunities for leisure and recreation. Alongside the development of new national park land we need to see more well-developed walking routes and cycling trails.
Many thanks for the opportunity to comment. If re-elected I would be keen to work with you to maximise the benefits of increased levels of active travel.
Hannah Bettsworth (Lib Dem)
Dear Ms Harding,
Thank you for your recent email regarding the need to invest in active travel.
Scottish Liberal Democrats believe the case for increasing uptake of cycling and walking is compelling. It has huge potential to benefit the health of the people of Scotland, tackle obesity, ease congestion on roads, as well as contributing to meeting Scotland’s ambitious climate change targets and air pollution limits – both of which have been missed in recent years. There are more cars on the road than ever before and they account for half of all journeys under 5 kilometres Given that transport accounts for around a quarter of Scotland’s emissions, it will be almost impossible to meet these and other key targets unless there is a shift towards low-carbon and active travel. Indeed, it will require strong, effective and sustained leadership from the next Scottish Government if 10% of all journeys are to be made by bike by 2020.
Scottish Liberal Democrats support safer streets for cyclists and pedestrians. For example, we will establish more dedicated and segregated cycle infrastructure. It is also worth noting that Liberal Democrats have a strong record of delivering in this area. For example, our councillors in Edinburgh helped secure the commitment to spending 5% of the city’s transport budget on cycling, with an automatic 1% a year escalator to move it up to 10%. There is real progress being made and there is real merit in other councils’ following this lead.
Further plans for active travel will be set out in our manifesto. I hope that you will take the time to read it because many of these themes will be reflected in it and I am certain it will be of interest to you. It will be available in due course at www.scotlibdems.org.uk.
I hope that you find this response helpful in the meantime and please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance with regards to this or any other matter.