On 27 January, our Deputy Chief Executive & Executive Director, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, John Lauder appeared with other experts from the transport sector at the Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee. They came together online to discuss the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan update.
Watch John's speech. Please note this video contains information licenced under the Scottish Parliament Copyright Licence.
John spoke about a variety of subjects from emissions targets to e-bikes as well as funding for an ‘Active Travel Freeway’.
And he emphasised that the evidence and expertise are all there to achieve the environmental gains the government are aiming for.
To make this a reality, however, a coherent delivery plan aligned to the National Transport Strategy and significant investment is needed now.
We’ve summarised his key points below.
Make walking, cycling and wheeling an option for everyone
John called on the government to increase investment now to make walking, cycling and wheeling an attractive and accessible option for people.
And shift away from private vehicle use for short journeys of 5km or less, that make up 53% of trips by car in Scotland.
Whilst Sustrans holds significant Transport Scotland funding for walking, wheeling and cycling infrastructure, the investment has fallen behind the need.
We need increased investment now to make walking, cycling and wheeling an attractive and accessible option for people.
Meeting the demand for active travel
John noted that Sustrans were delivering some really innovative projects in Scotland.
But ‘our budget to deliver active travel infrastructure with local authority partners is at capacity, so we have a great opportunity now to grow the budget to meet demand’.
With the majority of Scotland’s workforce currently at home, it’s an ideal moment to start delivering convenient and green ‘20 minute neighbourhoods’ in much of Scotland.
He called for funding priorities, political leadership and a coherent national strategic plan to deliver a reduction in carbon in the transport sector.
He was clear that active travel, walking, cycling and wheeling can play a full part in reducing emissions alongside public transport, particularly the bus.
Sustrans can show great examples across Scotland in towns and also successful rural initiatives, but with better investment we could do so much more.
Delivering a network of ‘active travel highways’
John received a follow-up question on the necessity of £50m of government funding specifically for ‘Active Travel Freeways’.
In response, he confirmed that separate investment was needed for a coherent network of active travel highways.
A ‘trunk road network for cycling and walking’ would open up active travel in Scotland and be economically beneficial, especially for rural areas.
More clarity on the scope and nature of the £50m fund is needed, as well as more investment.
The time to act is now
The evidence and expertise are all there. The time to consult, investigate, and explore are over. The time to act is now.