Scots Wahey

The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain has always been hopeful that the Scottish Government has at least got the importance of cycling. While south of the border the ‘greenest government ever’ has persistently marginalised cycling as a means of transport, the SNP government, both in partnership with the Greens before the Scottish election and as a majority government afterwards at least seemed to be moving in the right direction. The Scottish government has given itself legally binding targets to reduce carbon emissions and as part of that (and its campaign to tackle obesity) has set a target of 10% of all journeys in Scotland to be by bike by 2020. Although it is still not spending anything like the £10 per head that is probably the minimum needed to bring about that level of cycling – let alone the £25 per head that the Netherlands spends on its cycling infrastructure – last year spending on cycling from all sources in Scotland reached £4 per head, its highest ever. And that all seemed set to increase, with the SNP pledging in its manifesto at the last election, barely six months ago to increase the proportion it spent on sustainable and active travel.

Well, if a week is a long time in politics, six months must be a lifetime because the draft budget for 2012-13 shows that while transport spending is set to go up – particularly spending on motorways and trunk routes – the amount likely to go to cycling and walking will actually decrease. Spokes, the Edinburgh-based Lothian Cycling Campaign, has started a campaign to get its members – and indeed voters all over Scotland – writing to their MSPs to object to this u-turn from the SNP.

This is not a party political point; it’s more important than that. Scotland has the chance to show that decent levels of spending on cycling can produce decent levels of cycling in the UK. More importantly, Scotland has the chance to show it can lead the way in this, as Westminster drags its feet and London fails to capitalise on its cycling revolution. But by falling back on the tired old politics of the road and the car, Scotland is throwing away this chance.

We at the Cycling Embassy fully support Spokes’s campaign to get this disastrous budget revised. We urge all our members north of the border to write to their MSPs and ask them to hold the Scottish government to account. Full details here