The third candidate statement on their active travel commitments and policies for the coming parliamentary term, is from Scottish Green Party candidate Patrick Harvie.
Patrick is co-leader of the Scottish Green Party, along with Lorna Slater, and has previously represented the Glasgow Region in the Scottish Parliament since 2003.
He has been involved in a very wide range of issues including asylum, sexual health, housing, fair work and transgender rights. In response to climate change, he has campaigned extensively on improving public transport and active travel infrastructure and has repeatedly advocated for radical measures to reduce CO2 emissions and end dependence on fossil fuels.
When he’s not fighting for social and environmental justice, he will likely be consuming copious amounts of sci-fi and responsible amounts of craft beer. Glasgow residents are also likely to have seen him whizzing around the city on an aptly-coloured green bike.
The Scottish Greens know that a socially equitable and environmentally sustainable transport system for Scotland is a vital component in our fight against climate change.
We want a transport system that prioritises walking, cycling and other active mobility modes, followed by public transport. Commercial and business traffic can be reduced, and encouraged into sustainable modes. Private cars will likely always have a role to play, but cannot be allowed to dominate our public spaces as they do today.
We know we need to make walking and cycling the most attractive and viable transport options in order to achieve this. This means changing both the physical space on our roads and streets, and the culture of how they’re used. It will take serious capital investment to transform our infrastructure, but this should be seen as an investment in a healthy and sustainable economy. So too is spending to achieve behaviour change and an overall shift in attitude and culture.
In the 2020/21 budget negotiations, we secured an additional £15m for cycling, walking and wheeling, bringing the total to record levels, along with a commitment to ensure that the £50m town centre fund supports active travel – but we recognise there’s still a long way to go.
So the Scottish Greens want to see a radical boost in funding in active travel from 2.2%, where it currently stands, to forming at least 10% of total transport budget. This would bring us more in line with other northern European countries, which have far higher numbers of trips made on foot or by bike. It would also reduce air pollution which is estimated to cause over 2,500 deaths per year in Scotland. We’d invest as much again in the ’15-minute neighbourhood’ concept, ensuring that communities’ needs are met with lower demand for road space.
Harnessing a significant modal shift towards active travel in Scotland also requires working closely with local government and communities. For the Scottish Greens, this means calling for increased public consultation and participatory budgeting on active travel as well as 20mph speed limits in residential areas, cycle hubs at bus and train stations, better street lighting and lengthened crossing times at pedestrian crossings.
Every child in Scotland should be given the opportunity to undertake on-road cycle training and provision for the training of adults must also be supported.
To make active travel safe and appealing, the most vulnerable road users need to be protected by law. Changing the law to presumed liability would ensure that when road accidents do happen, the most vulnerable road users are protected.
In line with other major European nations, pedestrians and cyclists with additional vulnerabilities (children, older people, disabled people) should receive automatic compensation in road accidents.
These policies are by no means an exhaustive list of the policies that Scottish Greens believe are required to increase active travel uptake in Scotland and we know that much more work is needed.
I also know how daunting it can be to start cycling in a city like Glasgow, with its woeful track record on active travel. But also know how liberating and joyful it can be, and I want more Glaswegians to share in that.
Keep an eye out for our Holyrood 2021 manifesto, due to launch on 14th April, for more detail on the Scottish Greens’ pledges and commitments to walking, cycling and wheeling.
If you haven’t already done so please sign up here (link) for free to receive instructions on how to join us. The hustings is open to all with an interest in active travel, so we hope as many of our members and friends can attend.
Our hustings will run under the Wheel, Walk, Cycle Vote banner where we will focus our questions around their three pledges on accessibility, infrastructure and investment.