Last Saturday I joined thousands of cyclists from all across Edinburgh for the annual Pedal to Parliament. It was great to be able to speak at the event and to lay out some of my views on what we can do to promote active travel.
As well as providing good quality, affordable public transport I want to see more investment in active travel, not just to improve people’s transport choices, but to improve people’s health and wellbeing, to make our communities safer and to reduce air pollution.
Our core manifesto commitment is “As well as providing good quality, affordable public transport we also want to see more investment in active travel, not just to improve people’s transport choices, but to improve people’s health and wellbeing, and make our communities safer. Extra investment in the city of Edinburgh is driving up active travel and we want to see more investment across the country”
We have an excellent record on active travel both in terms of the work I started as Transport Minister to establish dedicated funds for walking and cycling and through investment in public transport, which integrated cycling investment. In the last Parliament, we worked with the Cross-Party Group on Cycling and supported for increased investment in cycling. We also called for Low Emission Zones and we are continuing to pursue this to deliver better air quality.
IPPR Scotland, an independent think tank, has calculated that, if elected, we will be raising up to £1.2bn extra per year. This will be crucial as it will allow us to stop the cuts, including those being made to local councils, where vital active travel investment is made. Contrast that to the SNP’s revenue raising plans – they will have to make up to £3bn of cuts – and without additional revenue being raised – questions have to be asked about where those cuts will fall.
Our travel and climate change manifesto policies are – to make sure our budgets, legislation and regulations are tested against the Climate Change Act; to aspire to 50% of our energy to come from renewables; to work towards a more integrated transport system, run for the benefit of passengers/users not transport bosses. We have a clear agenda to support green transport.
We will use Edinburgh – with its 10% target of transport investment in cycling – as our exemplar for delivering on active travel in government. Edinburgh has built up to 9% of its transport budget on active travel and cycling and will shortly be at 10%. It’s also developing more 20mph areas. But we want year on year improvements, so our commitment is clear and it’s why we want to see extra investment not more Tory austerity cuts passed on to local councils by the SNP.
We support the ambition in the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland to see 10% of journeys being made by bike – we’d want to maximise investment from central and local government and ensure a more joined up approach between local authorities to ensure we get progress on