‘Walking, cycling should be norm within 15 years’

Last year's Pedal on Parliament event in Edinburgh, which sought to improve safety for cyclists in Scotland. Picture: Jane Barlow
Last year's Pedal on Parliament event in Edinburgh, which sought to improve safety for cyclists in Scotland. Picture: Jane Barlow
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MINISTERS said today walking and cycling should be the norm for short journeys within 15 years - but campaigners Transform Scotland said more action was needed now to make it a reality.

It came as Scottish Government transport chiefs admitted they would have to re-think how to achieve their goal of 10 per cent cycling by 2020 if the current 2 per cent rate did not increase in the next few years.

A Long Term Vision for Active Travel in Scotland 2030 aims to get more Scots to walk for journeys up to two miles, and cycle up to five miles.

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It said this would be achieved by reducing other traffic on roads and more spending on walking and cycle paths, to improve health and the environment.

Measures include segregated cycle routes on main roads into town centres and routes to schools with speed limits of 20mph or less.

Pedestrians would have shorter waits and longer to cross roads at traffic lights.

Transport minister Keith Brown said as a start, an extra £27 million would be spent on cycling and walking infrastructure by next year.

Sustainable transport lobby group Transform Scotland said the focus should be on stepping up work now rather than a 15-year vision.

Director Colin Howden said: “A long-term vision for walking and cycling is all very well but what we actually need is action now, not at some vague time off into the future.

“What we do know is the Scottish Government’s investment in active travel falls in this year’s budget despite the overall transport budget again rising.

“Some short-term action to tackle that situation would be more helpful than platitudes about long-term priorities.”

David Middleton, chief executive of Scottish Government agency Transport Scotland, told Cycling Scotland’s annual conference last week that lack of progress with increasing cycling rates to 10 per cent of journeys would prompt a re-think.

He said: “We have stated the aspiration. Clearly, if there is no movement in the percentages as we move through the decade, we will have to look at it.”

However, Mr Middleton said others had to play their part.

He said: “It’s a partnership - we are all working together to the same end.”

Mr Middleton told the conference the 10 per cent figure was a target, but his officials said later it remained a “vision”.

Walking and cycling groups gave a qualified thumbs up to the document.

Ian Findlay, chief officer of development body Paths for All, said: “We welcome and support this vision, which underlines the huge benefits of increasing active travel in Scotland.”

However, he added: “This can only happen if Scotland prioritises improving the infrastructure and environment for people to walk or cycle, as well as encouraging people to change travel behaviours.

John Lauder, national director of cycle path developers Sustrans Scotland, also “very much welcomed” the vision.

But he said: “The challenge now is to translate this vision into action on the ground.

“Work needs to start on developing a long-term delivery plan, with appropriate funding mechanisms, to deliver not only the vision set out in this document but also the visions identified in the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland and the National Walking Strategy.”

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