Government urged to make walking and cycling transport priorities

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Transport and environmental groups have joined forces to call on the government to spend less money on building new roads and more on supporting walking and cycling.

Spokes, Friends Of The Earth Scotland, Pedal On Parliament, Stop Climate Chaos Scotland, Ramblers Scotland and Transform Scotland are asking ministers to transfer 1 per cent of the proposed trunk roads and motorways budget to active travel.

Their call comes ahead of the final vote on the Budget in the Scottish Parliament this week.

The Scottish Government plans to spend £820 million next year on building major roads, compared with £41 million on improving walking and cycling paths, the coalition said. It said more investment is needed if Scotland is to meet its vision for 10 per cent of trips to be by bike by 2020.

Emilia Hanna, of Friends Of The Earth Scotland, said: “The Government has got its spending plans all wrong by pouring millions into roads which will create more traffic congestion, more air pollution, and more climate emissions.”

Dave du Feu, cycling campaigner for Spokes, said: “The last year or two have seen growing ambition and expertise in many Scottish Councils seeking to improve conditions for cycling, for example Edinburgh’s plan for a segregated route through the city centre, and other bold plans in Glasgow and Inverness. Just 1 per centfrom the government’s £820m trunk roads budget would help maintain this momentum rather than putting it at risk.”

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A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Government is committed to encouraging healthier and greener travel and we are investing more than £1 billion per annum to encourage people out of their cars.

“We remain committed to our shared vision of 10 per cent of everyday journeys being made by bike by 2020 and in this financial year we committed a further £3.3 million to match last year’s record investment in active travel.

“We have increased investment in active travel to £39.2 million, up from £22.95 million in 2013/14 at a time when our overall capital budget has decreased by 26 per cent. Over and above this, behaviour change programmes through the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places programme are encouraging uptake of both sustainable and active travel.”

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