Spokes Appeals to Swinney

Posted by chdot on June 8, 2009

spokes letter
Veteran (31 years and still going strong) local cycle campaign group Spokes has written to the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney, continuing its campaign for increased investment to encourage more people to cycle. (PDF)

It’s not many years since the case would have to be made for the idea of encouraging people to cycle. Now all levels of Government (Westminster, Holyrood and City Chambers) want more people to cycle (more often) but are still failing to understand that the massive increases they say they want will require cash.

As the letter’s author, Dave du Feu, points out – “Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson announced a new government target of 10% of all trips to be by bicycle in the year 2020” and continues “Mr Stevenson and other Ministers refer to comparator European countries such as Denmark which have achieved well over such levels, suggesting that such a target is achievable. However, the difference is that such countries have invested in cycling substantially and consistently over many years, whereas investment in Scotland has hovered around or below 1%, around £3-£4 per head of population, and is now on a significant downward trend. In comparator towns and countries we often find £10-£20 per head, or 5%-10% of transport budgets (even more in some towns).”

(City of Edinburgh Council has recently announced its own target of 15% by 2020 without any indication of sufficient extra investment).

Dave is not just another ‘campaigner’ asking for money for a pet project/vested interest. He has, for many years, collected statistics from all local authorities in Scotland and has a very clear idea of the amount of spending by councils on cycling (not always easy to identify completely accurately) and whether or not that investment is increasing (generally not).

“If the target is to be taken seriously, or even if the government is concerned that cycling investment is falling in contradiction to the aspirations of the SNP manifesto, then the decline in investment must be reversed in the current year, and serious investment towards the target must begin rapidly thereafter.”

Dave’s letter lists suggestions for money required – £5m more in the current financial year, in 2010/11 “a new £20m cycle projects fund, additional to current initiatives, and so roughly doubling existing levels of cycle investment.” As he points out “this proposal, whilst doubling existing cycle investment, would still leave us well below European levels, and certainly not yet on track to meet your 2020 cycle use target.”

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