4. To ask the Scottish Government how it promotes active travel. (S5O-02792)
The Scottish Government has doubled the active travel budget from £39.2 million in 2017-18 to £80 million in 2018-19 and 2019-20. The majority of that funding is allocated to local authorities to deliver high-quality walking and cycling infrastructure that enables people to walk and cycle more.
The funding also includes more than £10 million to support local authorities and communities to deliver behavioural change programmes including cycle training and increased access to bikes and facilities, to encourage more people to walk and cycle.
We also recently appointed Scotland’s first active nation commissioner, Lee Craigie, who will become the national advocate for the benefits of walking and cycling, including for everyday short journeys.
It is estimated that it will, at the current rate of progress, take about 239 years to reach the Scottish Government’s target of 10 per cent of journeys being made by bike by 2020. Although setting an ambitious target is positive—I welcome the steps that the cabinet secretary has set out—how will the Scottish Government ensure that the necessary support is in place to achieve it?
When Annie Wells said “239 years”, I thought that she was talking about the Brexit negotiations, given that state of affairs.
We have an ambitious programme for driving up active travel. We set an ambitious stretch target and we are seeing progress being made towards it. However, progress is clearly not being made at the speed that we would all like. That is why we doubled the budget in order to drive progress forward in the coming years. I am committed to doing everything that we can do to increase the number of people who choose active travel options when making journeys.
I welcome the doubling of the budget and highlight to the cabinet secretary that I visited the south city way CLPLUS—community links plus—project, which was supported on a cross-party basis. Its accessibility and visibility are inspiring.
Can the cabinet secretary tell us more about how it will be ensured that marginalised communities have affordable options in such travel opportunities?
Claudia Beamish raises an important issue. I have on a number of occasions made the point that in promoting and encouraging active travel, we must reach out to hard-to-get-at communities, and to individuals who might not initially think that they will take up an active travel option.
In recent discussions, I challenged the stakeholders who are responsible for taking forward the promotion of active travel to demonstrate in greater detail how they are reaching out to our more deprived communities and ensuring that they are supported to consider active travel options. We are, for example, looking at how we can build the provisions that are necessary to support active travel into the infrastructure of social housing provision. That could include cycle and walking routes, work with housing associations, the creation of e-bike hubs and provision of electric vehicles through a car-club model. Those could be delivered through social housing. I have challenged stakeholders to develop all those in a more detailed way.
I am clear about the need to ensure that active travel is about not just people who are predisposed to being active, but is about reaching out to communities that are more deprived and difficult to get at in order to ensure that they, too, get the benefits of the investment.