The Case for Sustaining Cycle Spending

Posted by chdot on May 23, 2007

spokes letter to swinney.jpg
Spokes is 30. (??.9.07). That’s nearly thirty years of campaigning and information provision through leaflets and newsletters and (in recent years) its web site.

To provide such a service there are a handful of volunteers (no staff). One particularly crucial part of this work is information collection. For ten years Spokes has conducted an annual survey of cycle project expenditure by all Scottish local authorities. Most are willing to answer a series of detailed questions about their spending on what has become known as “Sustainable Transport”.

The Scottish Executive even has a Sustainable Transport Team “within the Scottish Government itself, … bringing together for the first time, policy on cycling and walking with our wider sustainable transport agenda”. (Extract from last year’s National Transport Strategy)

Spokes is concerned that this, and policies favourable to cycling, might be under threat from the new SNP led Government. The Lothian Cycle Campaign’s ‘chief factfinder and pamphleteer’, Dave du Feu has written to John Swinney MSP the new “Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth”. The letter outlines some of the pro-cycling measures in Scotland and, in response to the new Government’s plans for reform, says – “we strongly appeal for you to retain the Sustainable Transport Team which was set up in the Executive last year. This was a really important symbolic move, and we believe that it is beginning to prove a very effective improvement on the previous arrangements.”

Spokes proposes measures that would greatly improve on the current position and notes that – “the most consistent and forcefully expressed wish by cycle officers in our annual survey is for forward budgets, to allow time for proper planning, public consultation, land acquisition and phased project work.” In recent years extra money has been offered to councils well into the financial year for spending before April. Some councils, including Edinburgh, have been unable to prepare their best ‘bids’ as staff are already committed to existing projects.

Spokes has copied the two page letter to all Lothian MSPs. One reason that Spokes is so successful is that its supporters also write letters and send e-mails to their MSPs and councillors.

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