Quick chance for cycling investment

There’s a short window of opportunity to gain a modest one-off boost to Scottish cycling investment.  We’ve also got a great idea how the money could be used.  Please send a quick email to your MSPs now

The Scottish Government is to receive £279m* for capital investment projects as a result of the UK Chancellor’s Spring Budget.   The government will decide very soon – possibly even in the next few days – how to use this money.

[*Note - some reports refer to £279m, others to £176m.  As we understand it there will be £279m for capital projects, not just transport, but which could (and should!)  include cycling investment.  The difference is because the amount for day-to-day current spending is being cut by £103m.  Here is the BBC report and here the government news release - the relevant info is half way down].

Please email your MSPs right now!

Ask them to contact Finance Secretary John Swinney MSP and Transport Minister Keith Brown MSP to urge that some of the funding goes to cycling investment, and to let you know how they get on.  Find your MSPs at www.writetothem.com.

Spokes as an organisation will write to the Transport Minister but our message will carry far more weight if Ministers are also getting lobbied via local MSPs.  Other groups such as Pedal on Parliament are also urging concerned members of the public to write.

It’s really worth emailingwe have already won additional funding on a previous similar occasion! [see second section of that news item]

Don’t send a long email.  Use your own ideas, but if you want suggestions you might like to use some of the following…

  • Ask your MSPs to push for our ‘big idea’ below.
  • Or, mention a local project that would cost money but could be implemented fairly rapidly  in your own area and would make a big difference to conditions for getting about by bike.
  • Sustrans has cycle projects across Scotland ‘ready to go’ as soon as funding becomes available.
  • The Transport Minister Keith Brown MSP has promised publicly more than once to ‘fight his corner’ to get money for cycling investment should this type of one-off funding opportunity arise.

A BIG IDEA

Spokes would like to see a significant chunk of this money, say £10m, put into a special award fund to which councils could bid for a large sum, so that Scotland could implement 2 or 3 ‘exemplary projects’ providing high quality European-style cycling infrastructure in an area of a city or town, and including at least one main-road corridor.   This idea was suggested recently by a speaker from the Danish Cycling Embassy at the Scottish Parliament and we understand that Alison Johnstone MSP, Jim Eadie MSP and Claudia Beamish MSP from the Scottish Parliament Cross-Party Cycle Group are urging Transport Minister Keith Brown to follow it up.   The new money granted to Scotland above, as a result of the UK budget, provides the perfect opportunity to set up this award!!

WHAT’S REALLY NEEDED

Of course, even with the above award, one-off short-term funding is not the real answer.  For any hope of the government reaching its 2020 cycle-use target we need substantial and ongoing funding – as in section 4.2 of our recent Spokes response to the CAPS consultation.  However, in the absence of that, one-off cash injections can make a big difference in the local areas which benefit from them.  And our ‘big idea’ could really provide inspiration to others and to the world outside.

WHAT IT COULD MEAN

Does all this sound too abstract?  Is it really worth the effort of emailing your MSPs??

Well, last year’s Scottish Budget statement announced something rather similar – a small one-off amount of new cycling investment to be used for projects which could be implemented in the current financial year (2012/13).   Spokes immediately suggested to Edinburgh council that they apply for funding to widen and resurface North Meadow Walk.  The council did so – and they succeeded!!   Work should begin in the next few weeks.

If you emailed your MSPs at that time asking for more cycling investment, it may have felt very abstract at the time, but now take a bow – you have helped get North Meadow Walk rebuilt!!

Who knows which parts of Scotland will benefit if we succeed in getting this new one-off cash injection – it could be yours!

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