Scotland is to double the funding for cycling and walking, increasing it from £40m per year to £80m. While this is a drop in the ocean compared to Scotland’s spend on motorised transport (billions are being spent on new motorways and bridges) the move has been welcomed by "active transport" organisations. Living Streets argued that the announcement was a "game-changer".
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement as she presented her Government’s plan to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday afternoon, in Holyrood.
(The "Active Travel Proposals" are part of the Programme for Scotland and can be found on page 59).
"Doubling funding for cycling and walking will help encourage active travel choices through a combination of behaviour change initiatives and the building of physical infrastructure," said a statement from Cycling UK.
Cycling UK also believes the level of the Scottish Government’s funding for cycling and walking shows a commitment lacking in other national administrations within the UK.
Currently funding for cycling and walking in England is projected to be £1.2bn over the next four years, or effectively, an annual £6.50 per head for everyone in England outside of London. In Wales, it is estimated that between £3 to £5 per head is spent on active travel a year, while in Northern Ireland the Department for Infrastructure has previously acknowledged that “…the funding available for cycling has been limited and spread thinly.”
— Scottish Government (@scotgov) September 5, 2017
Cycling UK sees Transport Scotland’s doubling of investment in active travel, to effectively an annual £13.50 per head, as an aspiration each devolved administration should seek to match.
Cycling UK’s Head of Development Scotland Suzanne Forup said:
“Today’s announcement of the doubling of funding for active travel to £80m per year comes is fantastic news for Scotland and cycle campaigners. The return on investment will be massive and wide reaching, as the economy, public health and environment are all set to benefit from this news.
Cycling UK CEO Paul Tuohy said:
“This unprecedented level of investment into active travel from a national government clearly shows the First Minister means business when she talks of addressing Scotland’s environmental and health commitments.
Living Streets tweeted: "WOW! the @scotgov has just went big on walking and cycling spending. This will transform lives by helping people get active #GameChanger."
Sustrans called the move a "step change" in thinking.
Sustrans Scotland director John Lauder said the announcement was a "bold statement of intent in the new Programme for Government, one that has the potential to really change how delivery bodies work in Scotland, and massively increase people’s health and wellbeing. It also sets an example for the rest of the UK."
“This new funding investment is building on the successes to date in programmes for walking, cycling and improvements to local communities. The challenge for the future is to build on the creative partnerships already working to make cycling and walking easier, particularly local authorities, regional transport authorities, Scottish Canals, the two national parks and Community Trusts taking active travel to the heart of their communities."