Progress in achieving higher levels of cycling
The majority of documents reviewed do not include assessment of progress up to the point at which they were written, and obviously no assessment of progress after they were adopted. The main exceptions to this are the ATTFDP and the NTS Consultation Draft. In addition, a separate CAPS progress report on CAPS 2013-2017 was published in 2016; and in 2019 the first edition of the to be annual Scottish Cycling Monitor was published. This latter document showed that 4.9% of people were cycling to work at least regularly and in raw terms cycling in Scotland as a mode of transport has increased from 0.9% of trips averaged across the early 2000s to 1.3% averaged across the mid-2010s, a very significant proportionate increase but far from the target of 10% of all trips by 2020. Kilometres cycled have increased significantly but the number of cyclists and pedestrians killed and seriously injured remains around the same.
Progress in delivering CAPS and other related actions
In terms of implementation of the actions in CAPS 2017-20, the most comprehensive view is provided in the ATTFDP (since many of the actions in CAPS are cross-referred to in the second document). Actions for which implementation is generally progressing better are those in the areas of leadership, monitoring and behaviour change, and the implementation of the NCN (with the caveat that it is unclear how much of the additional NCN is provided on traffic free/segregated routes). In general there is more evidence also of delivery of measures for which the primary responsibility for delivery is with Transport Scotland or NGOs, rather than with local authorities.
There is less evidence of significant progress in the development and implementation of local active travel strategies and, in relation to this, local level infrastructure. This does not necessarily mean that high quality segregated local cycling infrastructure has not been delivered but more that the evidence of its delivery is lacking. In addition, it is difficult to assess the degree of implementation of 20mph zones, both with and without physical traffic calming measures. At the national level there are challenges in delivering effective leadership to local authorities, wider access to bikes and those actions that seek to achieve greater coordination between delivery bodies, insofar as the specific activities required to bring about such better coordination are not well specified. Beyond this it is difficult to assess how well the various actions are coordinated between delivery bodies without carrying out primary research.
Areas in which CAPS and related documents could be strengthened
As noted earlier, the evidence of the progress or otherwise of the implementation of CAPS actions is based on limited research because this report is based only on a review of documents, without any primary research. Nonetheless there are sufficient indicators to point to some important areas of activity where active consideration should be given to strengthening the action and/or improving delivery. These are discussed below.
- The delivery of high quality infrastructure at a local level – meaning segregated infrastructure on arterial roads/streets and on any street with a speed limit of more than 20mph – needs to be speeded up and strengthened. This is primarily a local authority responsibility and various supporting actions are required to realise it, as follows:
- Actions to develop leadership and ownership of cycling policies and cycling measures in local authorities. There is some evidence of national level leadership but this needs to be reflected more at the local level.
- Active travel strategies must be monitored for quality and improved to include much more detailed specification/design of local cycling networks.
- Local authorities require support and best practice examples of roadspace reallocation and traffic reduction in order to understand how it can be brought about.
- There is considerable evidence in the ATTF report that the current TRO and Redetermination Order processes present a significant barrier to the delivery of active travel schemes involving the reallocation of roadspace. It is unclear why further review of these processes is required before any decision is made to change them. In countries such as Sweden and France which have higher levels of citizen satisfaction with their transport systems than does the UK, the equivalent of TRO processes give far less weight to objectors than the UK and especially the Scottish TRO process, and more measures can be implemented without any equivalent of the TRO process than they can in Scotland.
- The cost estimates for cycle networks contained in those few active travel strategies that have them indicate that the current level of funding for active travel infrastructure investment is, in spite of recent increases, inadequate (although this depends in part on how quickly these cycle networks should be delivered). Even with current levels of funding, match funding is increasingly challenging for local authorities and a case needs to be made for why active travel infrastructure needs to be match funded at all when rail and trunk road infrastructure does not.
- Increased investment in active travel infrastructure requires additional, trained, staff than local authorities currently have access to.
- National guidance such as LTNs, DMRB, and TALs do not appear consistent with the new infrastructure designs required to deliver high quality attractive cycling and walking infrastructure. As long as inconsistencies remain this will slow delivery as engineers will be reluctant to forsake older guidance for new guidance unless and until the old guidance has been officially superseded. New planning guidance such as Designing Streets will not resolve this problem.
- More steps to increase access to bikes require to be taken.
- The National Transport Strategy is supportive in policy terms of active travel but contains no references to actual projects; and the Strategic Transport Projects Review 2 is not yet released. Both documents are an opportunity to provide national leadership.
- The relative stability in the numbers of cyclist and pedestrian KSIs indicates a need for further road safety initiatives targeted at improving safety for these users.
- The National Planning Framework is as not as unequivocal as it could be about the need to create new development at higher density and as close as possible to existing urban centres.
- Integration of cycling with public transport, with the exception of bike parking at stations, is not proceeding as quickly as it might. However, this is not considered to be a very high priority for action since the international evidence does not highlight it as a deciding factor in whether people choose to combine cycling, or walking, with a public transport trips. The literature shows that the key deciding factor in this choice is the quality of the infrastructure available for the trip to the public transport station or stop, and of course the overall journey time and cost in comparison to the same trip made entirely by car.
- Transport appraisal remains quite dominated by cost-benefit analysis which itself is dominated by journey time savings. Clearly, moves to walking and cycling will rarely show journey time savings, at least in the short term. Thus some review of how walking and cycling schemes are appraised in relation to road and public transport schemes is required.