produced a handout about the upcoming transport budget cuts in Scotland.
Oh, hang on. Did I say cuts ? It's only a cut for walking and cycling. The total budget for transport is being increased from £1804m to £1884m, while the part of that budget which is for walking and cycling combined is being reduced from £20m to £15m.
There are 5.2 million people in Scotland, so the budget for cycling and walking combined is being reduced from £3.84 per person per year to £2.88.
In other words, the budget is being reduced from 1% of the transport budget to 0.7% of the transport budget. That's not investing in cycling, it's fobbing off cyclists.
Scottish politicians who promised to "increase the proportion of transport spending on ... active and sustainable travel" would seem to have gone back on their word. Another broken promise.
You can read more on the handout itself (click and it gets bigger) or on the Spokes website.
It's a long way from the level of expenditure which is required for growth to a significant rate of cycling. The Dutch spend about €30 per person per year on cycling.
However, some local authorities in Scotland remain bullish: In Dumfries and Galloway, where the cycling modal share is approximately 3%, the new local transport strategy says "Overall, cycling and walking infrastructure is considered to be of a good standard and the council consequently considers that only incremental improvements to existing networks will be required in the short term".
Clearly they're not aiming very high. If the infrastructure was truly good, the modal share would be higher. There is pent up demand in Scotland just as anywhere else, but people don't cycle as much as they'd like to due to a lack of subjective safety.
The Cycling Action Plan for Scotland says that 2% of children in Scotland currently cycle to school. Cycling Scotland say it's 1% of primary school children and 2% of secondary school children. Like many organisations which despite lots of hard work still don't manage to increase the school cycling rate significantly, they are both placing more emphasis on training than on infrastructure improvements. That's why you don't see scenes like this every single day around every Scottish school.
£2.88 per person per year isn't enough to change the infrastructure so that cycling becomes something that people want to do. It can't be achieved on a shoe-string, and it certainly can't be achieved when budgets shrink rather than grow. When the transport budget in Scotland is growing, what can possibly be the excuse for shrinking the budget for cycling and walking ?
July 2013 update. D & G council talks to the press
In Dumfries, the BBC reports that "Plans to extend a sustainable travel project have been put on hold until firm evidence is produced to prove its effectiveness".
Less than two years ago, as you can read above, I pointed out that their boasting of already having "a good standard" of cycling infrastructure was premature. Considerably more investment is required to produce conditions in which people feel safe to cycle. Building just a few scattered and half-hearted pieces of infrastructure has never worked. A comprehensive network with very high quality is required.
Dumfries and Galloway could have sent representatives on one of our Study Tours two years ago in order to find out what was required, but they didn't. We would still like to welcome people from Dumfries and Galloway in the future. There is much to learn. Assen is town not much larger than Dumfries and we experience far harsher winters winters than does Dumfries but people cycle here in numbers which are unknown anywhere in the British isles. Come and see how this was achieved.
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