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Scotland making slow progress towards cycling target, MSPs told

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said people make around 4% of everyday journeys by bicycle, well short of the 10% aimed for by 2020.

The 2020 cycling target is unlikely to be met (Chris Radburn/PA)
The 2020 cycling target is unlikely to be met (Chris Radburn/PA)

The Scottish Transport Secretary has said the Government is expected to miss a target for 10% of everyday journeys to be made by bike by 2020.

Michael Matheson said cyclists currently make up around 4% of these trips.

Addressing MSPs in the Holyrood chamber, he acknowledged the slow progress in the 10 years since the target was set but highlighted increases in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Moray and the Highlands.

We realised some time ago that the speed of change was not good enough Michael Matheson

He said: “Progress towards the overall figures has been slow and it is unlikely to be met by 2020.

“We realised some time ago that the speed of change was not good enough.

“This is why last year we doubled Transport Scotland’s active travel budget from £39 million to £80 million.”

Mr Matheson added: “As it stands at the moment overall around 4% of journeys are made by cycling in the way that was set out within the plan.

“That is actually a record level in itself but clearly very much off the target which was set when the action plan was published back in 2010, illustrating the need for us to take further action in this matter.”

Mr Matheson said a monitoring system is being set up to drive forward more active travel along with an analysis of where progress has been made and how this can apply elsewhere.

He suggested the planned car park tax could be used to encourage alternatives to car use.

Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: “You’ve announced nothing new between more monitoring and analysis and you’ve even failed to acknowledge in this statement that with just six months to go this figure sits at just 2% – even lower than the 3% of the huge transport budget that you invest in this area.”

She and Conservative Jamie Green, who said the Government is going to “spectacularly fail” its flagship target, both urged Mr Matheson to reveal when the 10% is expected to be be met.

He replied that a review of the cycling action plan is being carried out.

Labour’s Colin Smyth said the increase in the past decade is “woeful”, adding “this failure needs to act as a wake-up call to the Government”.

Reacting to the announcement, Jim Densham, Cycling UK’s campaigns and policy manager for Scotland, said: “We are tremendously disappointed that the vision for 10% of everyday journeys to be made by bike will not be met next year. We now need much greater clarity on what the Government proposes to do to fulfil that vision and by when.

“A great deal of effort has been made by many organisations to encourage more people to cycle. Whilst the increased budget for active travel was widely welcomed, this announcement shows just how much more action is needed to meet the vision anytime soon.”

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