10 per cent cycling target 'unlikely to be met', ministers concede

Cycling rates are highest in Edinburgh where nearly 10 per cent commute by bike. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Cycling rates are highest in Edinburgh where nearly 10 per cent commute by bike. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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Scotland will fail to achieve 10 per cent of journeys by bike by next year, the Scottish Government today admitted for the first time.

The "vision", set in 2010, has repeatedly been challenged as unreachable because cycling rates have remained around 2 per cent.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson told MSPs today it had been "bold and aspirational".

He said: "Progress to the overall figure has been slow and unlikely to be met by 2020."

BACKGROUND: Bike journey target ‘unlikely’ to be achieved in Scotland

However, he said there had been success in some areas, with 9.8 per cent of commuting in Edinburgh by bike.

The admission comes three years after the Scottish Government-funded bike development agency Cycling Scotland came to the same conclusion as the minister today.

Despite that, Transport Scotland said at the time: “We remain determined to realise the vision of 10 per cent of everyday journeys in Scotland to be taken by bike by 2020."

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Jamie Greene described Mr Matheson's admission as the "spectacular failure of a flagship cycling target".

Scottish Labour counterpart Colin Smyth said: "This needs to act as a wake-up call for the Government."

Scottish Greens health spokeswoman Alison Johnstone complained that in making the announcement, "you have announced nothing new" to improve the situation.

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie later tweeted: "With depressing predictability, the @scotgov statement today on its failure to deliver on the Cycling Action Plan included no meaningful new action to accelerate progress, and the minister repeatedly refused to say when, if ever, he expects the 10% target to become a reality."

Mr Matheson said: “Last year, we doubled the active travel [walking and cycling] budget from £39 million to £80 million and we have maintained this record funding again this year to increase the speed of change in the number of people walking and cycling and to develop an active nation.

“While we are unlikely to reach 10 per cent of all journeys made by bike by 2020, our ambitious push has led to good results in some areas, with Edinburgh now seeing rates of cycling at 9.8 per cent.

“Infrastructure is key, and I’m delighted a record sum of money, £51 million prior to match funding [from councils], will be invested into Scotland’s communities through the Places For Everyone programme."