ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners are set to call on the Scottish Government to double the funding for cycling and walking to £40 million in next year’s budget.
Hundreds of demonstrators are expected to gather outside the Government headquarters in Edinburgh to make the point to Finance Secretary John Swinney.
Members of the pressure group Stop Climate Chaos Scotland (SCCS) want Mr Swinney to increase the funding allocated to walking and cycling to £40 million in the 2014-15 budget, and then to increase this amount every year until it reaches 10% of the overall transport budget.
They argue that the transport sector accounts for a quarter of all of climate change emissions in Scotland, and raising the budget will encourage more people to cycle or walk as an alternative to the car.
As well as helping the environment, this would also have health benefits for the country.
The demonstration is part of the ‘We want to see double” campaign by SCCS, which brings together student and trades unions, environmental organisations, faith groups and others.
Speaking ahead of the event SCCS chair Tom Ballantine said: “A low carbon country needs a low carbon transport system. Currently a quarter of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transport. We are calling for funding for cycling and walking to be doubled, to reduce emissions from the transport sector.
“Making these low carbon transport options a better and easy choice for people can drive down emissions in a cost-effective way. This will have health and other benefits for people across the country.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government aims to get more people making active travel choices for their everyday journeys wherever possible, to improve health and the environment.
“That is why we have in recent years invested significantly in training, infrastructure and road safety campaigns for the benefit of cyclists through organisations such as Cycling Scotland, Sustrans and local authorities across Scotland.
“We recently announced another £20 million of funding over the next two years for investment in active travel which is in addition to the £58m already allocated to active travel since the 2011 Spending Review.
“This funding will also help to deliver our commitment to the shared vision as outlined in the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland, that by 2020 10% of all journeys will be by bike.
“The Scottish Government, Transport Scotland and all our road safety partners are continuing to work together to try to enable cyclists to use Scotland’s roads safely. A broad portfolio of approaches is needed and will continue to be developed to improve cyclist safety.
“In addition to this the Scottish Government is meeting with Stop Climate Chaos Scotland to discuss their proposals.”