Holyrood 2021 Hustings: Scottish Liberal Democrats – candidate David McKenzie

Out next candidate statement on their active travel commitments and policies for the coming parliamentary term, is from the Scottish Liberal Democrat candidate David McKenzie:

I’m standing to be the first Liberal Democrat MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, having just turned 30 I’m the youngest candidate standing in the constituency. I was born and raised in Greenock, I left school aged 16 to pursue a career in the technology industry with Hewlett Packard in Erskine. For the past five years I’ve been working primarily in London but also in San Francisco, delivering consultancy to some of the world’s largest companies.

I’m well aware of the positive benefits the Scottish Parliament can achieve, especially for young people. My career is the direct result of investment made by the Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition from 1999-2007. I was 8 years old when the Scottish Parliament first sat but in the last decade I’ve seen the opportunities I was provided fall away for future generations, I now want to return home to make sure we come out of this pandemic with a positive progressive path for Scotland.


Safer cycling and walking

Scottish Liberal Democrats will:

Change town planning processes to make sure roads have separate spaces for cyclists, walkers/wheelers and motorists, to keep them all safe.

Make cycling more attractive with a new challenge fund to help install showers and changing rooms in workplaces and community facilities.

Decarbonise commuting through more support for e-bikes, as part of a plan to increase government support for households to buy or use forms of electric transport.

Bring forward the £50 million programme for Active Freeway routes from town centres to outlying neighbourhoods, which has been delayed until 2025 by the current government.

Plan so that every child has done their cycling proficiency test by the end of primary school, and every adult can take tuition and a test if they want it. We need to get children interested at the earliest possible opportunity. Only around 4% of children cycle to school.

Insist on a Fatal Accident Inquiry for each pedestrian death and require regional transport authorities to take remedial action.

Attitudes to cycling will only change if it is viewed as a safe and convenient alternative to other forms of transport. Research by Sustrans and Edinburgh Council in 2015 found that just 62% of city residents felt safe riding a bike during the day, falling to 34% at night. The figures for driving a car were up towards 90%.

20-minute neighbourhoods

Active travel will be helped by the drive for 20-minute neighbourhoods. The idea is to build ‘local living’ into how we plan and invest in communities.  This would mean basic services, such as schools, employment, healthcare and other community facilities are accessible and can be reached without a car. The approach should help to disperse investment, jobs and services more widely.

Making Glasgow more accessible for all

Charities including RNIB often campaign on the accessibility of the built environment. We agree with them that there are serious issues which need addressing. For example, clamping down on street furniture to make pavements easier to navigate

We also campaigned for years to clamp down on pavement parking. It was the Liberal Democrats who first tried to legislate on this in the 2007-11 Parliament. It is good that legislation has now been passed.

We campaigned for the Spaces for People rollout and worked to secure funding from Ministers. We wanted to reclaim road space for pedestrians to give everyone more room so that it’s easier to distance. Having more space on streets will also help disabled people in the long-term.

The implementation of that wasn’t perfect everywhere, and where there were issues on the ground in places like Edinburgh we campaigned to see them rectified. It’s in nobody’s interest to see rollouts that don’t work with the community’s needs.

There is a lesson to learn here – that plans need to be properly backed up by planning, consultation and funding. We can avoid and remove obstacles by taking account of the needs of disabled people early in the design process

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.