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Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 29th March 2012.

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Photo of Keith Brown Keith Brown Scottish National Party

At the road safety forum, we discussed several initiatives that are taking place in different localities, and the need to spread those out as best practice. Kevin Stewart mentioned one such initiative; others are happening elsewhere. The leadership role of the Scottish Government is to draw in those examples and to ensure that they are extended where that is possible. I commend Nestrans for having undertaken that initiative. A number of approaches to better cyclist safety are either being trialled or are in practice around Scotland, but people are not always aware of them. There is a role for Government in making people aware of them.

Currently, 98 per cent of Scottish primary schools offer cycle training and 70 per cent of pupils take up the offer. Of the eligible cohort of 55,000 pupils, 69.5 per cent receive some form of cycle training, but only 31.5 per cent are receiving on-road training to the national standard. That is why I have agreed a target with Cycling Scotland of 40 per cent of children receiving on-road training by 2015. I urge every local authority in Scotland to work in partnership with Cycling Scotland not just to meet that target, but to exceed it. We must reinforce the message that learning to cycle in a live environment is more beneficial than learning to ride a bike in a playground.

An immediate development from the operational partnership group meeting is that, following a representation from the sustainable transport team, which has responsibility for cycling, it will provide on-going feedback to the group on what the cycling action plan delivery forum and the national cycling interest group are doing, and on whether those fora have raised concerns about road safety. I hope that that will provoke wider discussion of the issues and improved communication in the established cycling groups, without unnecessary duplication of effort. There are quite a number of players, so we should co-ordinate our activities productively.

Funding has been mentioned. Over the next three financial years, £20.25 million will be provided for active travel projects, with a focus on cycling and walking infrastructure. That is in addition to £15 million for wider sustainable and active travel initiatives.

Sustrans was also mentioned. Its budget will increase from £5.5 million this year to more than £7 million, £8 million then £9 million in the next three years. We are retaining the ring fencing of the cycling, walking and safer streets grant, which is allocated to local authorities to deliver active travel projects. Alison Johnstone made the point that we rely on local authorities to play their part. Some—not least, the City of Edinburgh Council—do that substantially.