Scottish Budget must change direction and invest in cycling and walking
In advance of the Scottish Government’s budget decision this Wednesday, a coalition of transport and environmental groups backed by broadcaster Lesley Riddoch and University of Edinburgh Professor Chris Oliver have called on the Government to spend less money on building new trunk roads and motorways and more on supporting walking and cycling.
Spokes, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Pedal on Parliament, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, Ramblers Scotland and Transform Scotland have issued a Parliamentary Briefing calling on the Government to transfer 1% of its proposed trunk roads and motorways budget to active travel.
The Scottish Government plans to spend £820 million next year on building trunk roads and motorways versus a meagre £41 million on improving walking and cycling paths.
Recently published transport statistics revealed that under 2% of journeys in Scotland are currently made by bike, showing that much more investment is needed if Scotland is to meet its vision for 10% of trips to be by bike by 2020.
Dave du Feu, cycling campaigner for Spokes said,
“If Councils are expected to find cuts of 7% to non-care services, surely the government can find 1% from its own trunk roads budget to ensure that its policies on walking and cycling do not suffer.
“The last year or two have seen growing ambition and expertise in many Scottish Councils seeking to improve conditions for cycling, for example Edinburgh's plan for a segregated route through the city centre, and other bold plans in Glasgow and Inverness. Just 1% from the government's £820m trunk roads budget would help maintain this momentum rather than putting it at risk.”
Emilia Hanna, air pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland said,
“The Government has got its spending plans all wrong by pouring millions into roads which will create more traffic congestion, more air pollution, and more climate emissions. If it transfers just 1% of the cash it plans to spend on new polluting roads into active travel, this will support councils to get lots more people walking and cycling across Scotland.
Lesley Riddoch, broadcaster and journalist, said,
“It's not too late to make a big dent in Scotland's bad habits with a relatively small amount of public cash. We know the sedentary lifestyle of many Scots is a killer, here's a way to do something about it.”
Professor Chris Oliver, Honorary Professor of Physical Activity for Health at the University of Edinburgh said,
“There is far too much money in virtual silos in Scottish Government. It's difficult to sensibly move money around. Transferring more money into active travel will not only benefit cycling and walking levels but will have a considerable amplified effect on long term Scottish health as well.”
Jess Dolan, Director of Ramblers Scotland said,
“If we were all physically active for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week, as a country our risk factors for diseases like type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart attacks and some common cancers would be much lower and the chance of dying early would decrease by 30%. It's important that we reprioritise transport spending to invest in active travel so that walking and cycling become the easiest and most convenient options for short journeys. This would help increase physical activity levels, and contribute to making Scotland a healthier nation.”
Notes to editors
1. The Scottish Parliament will debate the budget on Wednesday 24th February. The group’s Parliamentary Briefing can be viewed at http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk/active-travel-budget. The groups stress that eventually, the Scottish Government should invest 10% of its transport budget on active travel and that their call is a stepping stone towards this goal.
2. The Scottish Government's Draft Budget 2016/17: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00491140.pdf. See spending Plans in Table 12.01
3. Scottish Government Transport Statistics: http://www.transport.gov.scot/system/files/documents/reports/NTS%20Refresh%202015%20-%20Supporting%20Document%20-%20Transport%20Statistics%20-%201%20Dec%202015.pdf
4. Parliament’s Cross Party Cycling Group wrote to the Finance Secretary in support of the call: http://www.spokes.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/1602-Letter-to-Deputy-First-Minister-20160208-re-budget-1-idea.pdf
5. Spokes’ information about the campaign: http://www.spokes.org.uk/2016/01/scottish-budget-a-realistic-proposal/. Friends of the Earth Scotland e-action to John Swinney: http://act.foe-scotland.org.uk/lobby/active-travel-budget
6. Spokes is the Lothian Cycle Campaign – a non party political voluntary organisation, founded in 1977, and now with a membership of over 1000. SPOKES has a long history of effective campaigning for better conditions for cyclists, especially in Edinburgh and the Lothians: http://www.spokes.org.uk/
7. Ramblers Scotland is a walking charity working to protect and expand the places people love to walk and promote walking for health and pleasure: http://www.ramblers.org.uk/scotland.aspx
8. Stop Climate Chaos Scotland is a diverse coalition of organisations in Scotland campaigning together on climate change. Its members include environment, faith and international development organisations, trade and student unions and community groups: http://www.stopclimatechaos.org/
9. Pedal on Parliament is a grass roots campaign of cyclists forming a cross-section of Scottish cycling united by a desire to make it safer and easier for everyone to ride a bike – whatever bike they ride. http://pedalonparliament.org/
10. Transform Scotland is the national alliance for sustainable transport, bringing together organisations from the private, public and voluntary sectors: http://transformscotland.org.uk/
11. Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and some 5,000 local activist groups. www.foe-scotland.org.uk