Transport Minister has designs on continental cycling projects
The Minister was speaking to over 200 delegates at the Cycling Scotland conference in Edinburgh as he announced details of the new ‘Community Links Plus’ competition for the design and construction of exemplar, on-road, segregated cycle lanes.
The competition will see funding being be made available to local authorities in the current financial year to enable them to prepare proposals, with the successful scheme(s) and associated behaviour change initiatives being delivered between 2016-2019.
Mr Mackay said:
“The Scottish Government is committed to encouraging healthier and greener travel and we are investing more than £1 billion per annum to encourage people out of their cars.
“This financial year we have increased investment in active travel to £39.2 million, up from £22.95 million in 2013/14 at a time when our overall capital budget has decreased by 26%. Over and above this, behaviour change programmes, through the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places programme are encouraging uptake of both sustainable and active travel.
“We know more can be done to keep up this momentum and that is why I am delighted to announce a new competition as part of the Community Links programme – taking cycling infrastructure in our towns and cities to the next level.
“This competition aims to deliver high profile, continental style infrastructure which will improve safety while also encouraging less confident cyclists to make day-to-day journeys by bike.
“This is a small but important step towards delivering our shared vision of 10% of everyday journeys being made by bike by 2020 and comes fast on the heels of the recently announced £3.3 million to match last year’s record investment in active travel. I would encourage as many local authorities as possible to submit proposals for schemes that will benefit their residents and visitors alike.”
Community Links PLUS will be managed by Sustrans Scotland and Transport Scotland and the first stage of the process will be for local authorities to submit an expression of interest. Thereafter authorities will receive funding to help design their proposals, and a panel will convene to judge the final applications, selecting those that will receive funding from 2016-17 to 2018-19.
John Lauder, National Director, Sustrans Scotland said:
“At Sustrans we know that the best investment any government can make is to help people choose to travel in ways that benefit their health and wellbeing, so we are delighted at this new development from Scottish Government, which will help people to use a bicycle for an every-day short trip.
“Building on our successful Community Links programme, we look forward to working with our partners throughout Scotland to deliver exemplary, high quality schemes such as those seen in other Northern European towns and cities.”
Keith Irving, Cycling Scotland chief executive said:
"Cycling Scotland welcomes the Minister's announcement made today at our Annual Conference which brings together hundreds of delegates devoted to boosting Scotland's health and quality of life by improving the environment for cycling.
Further investment in quality cycling infrastructure and promotion is essential for encouraging anyone, anywhere to cycle. We look forward to working with the Minister, Sustrans, Transport Scotland and all other partners to support schemes that will get the greatest number of people cycling."
The amount of funding available from the Scottish Government will be subject to confirmation of final budgets for future years and the proposals received, with local authorities and their partners expected to at least match the Scottish Government’s investment.
The shortlisted projects are expected to submit detailed proposals by end of June 2016 with an announcement of the winner(s) in the Autumn.