SNP’s cycling ‘vision’ is now impossible, say campaigners

Cycle group hit out at SNPs vision for raising bike journeys. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

Cycle group hit out at SNPs vision for raising bike journeys. Picture: Andrew O'Brien

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The SNP’s ambition to have one in ten journeys made by bike within four years is now “impossible” at any likely funding levels, Scotland’s leading cycle lobby group has claimed.

The assertion from Spokes came after the party’s manifesto said it was “determined to meet our vision of 10 per cent of everyday journeys being made by bike by 2020”.

The goal was set five years ago, since when the Lothian cycle campaign group said the rate had increased from 1 per cent to only 1.4 per cent. A total of 2.6 per cent of journeys to work were by bike in 2014, according to the latest available official figures.

Spokes lead organiser Dave du Feu said: “From the outset, we have said it was a hugely ambitious aim in that timescale, and we called for an ­evidence-based and costed pathway to reach it. That was never done. It is now impossible by 2020 at any likely cash level. There is now no hope of reaching it under any realistic financial scenario.

“The SNP manifesto is basically promising to maintain current spending levels, not to increase them.

“Ministers, and the manifesto, keep repeating their ‘determination’ to meet the vision/target, and probably believe what they are saying, but if so, their determination is based on wishful thinking, not on evidence.”

Mr Du Feu said major improvements to the cycling network to attract large numbers of cyclists, such as segregated lanes on main roads, took years to implement.

He said a key factor was the time require to overcome objections, such those against the planned Roseburn-Leith route in Edinburgh.

Keith Irving, chief executive of Scottish Government-funded Cycling Scotland, said: “My personal view is it’s important to remember that funding for cycling is up, the number of people cycling is up and all major political parties have very positive cycling manifesto commitments which, if delivered, will improve everyone’s quality of life.”

Transport minister Derek Mackay said: “We remain determined to meet our ambitious vision of 10 per cent of everyday journeys made by bike by 2020 – that’s why we will continue to make record investment in cycling and walking over the life of the next Parliament.

“Increasing the number of journeys by foot or bike will benefit our environment, economy, public health and much more.”

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