The Gobike Holyrood 2021 Hustings take place this evening from 7pm. You still have time to register to attend, it is open to all with an interest in active travel.
Due to the suspension of campaigning we postponed the publication of our candidate blogs and party statements over the weekend. Our final post(*) is from the Scottish National Party, which will be represented at the hustings by Kaukab Stewart. We have also been provided with a statement from Michael Matheson, the SNP Transport Secretary on active travel.
Kaukab has been campaigning for independence since the 1990s and has worked as a teacher in communities across Scotland for almost 30 years and lives in the west end of the city with her family.
She stood as the SNP candidate in the first Scottish Parliament election in 1999 against the late Donald Dewar. During her time in the party she has taken on other political heavyweights including former Chancellor Alistair Darling at the 2010 General Election.
Kaukab is hugely passionate about education and ensuring that every young person in Scotland is given an equal chance to succeed. She brings first hand experience to the table along with a determination to make Scottish education even better.
Statement from Michael Matheson SNP Transport Secretary
Over the past year during this dreadful pandemic, our way of living has been turned on its head. One of the biggest changes was that the requirement to firstly “stay at home” and then to “stay local” meant many more of us living and working locally. The closure of gyms and contact sports to keep people safe also meant many were without their usual ways of keeping fit. Walking and cycling – active travel – suddenly became much more popular and necessary to get about and get some daily exercise.
As we rebuild and recover from the pandemic it allows us to reimagine how we go about our daily lives. A priority for the SNP, if re-elected, will be to ensure Scotland’s economic and social recovery is green and investment in active travel will be crucial to that.
That is why the SNP has already committed to the Scotland Road Safety Framework, which has just been renewed to 2030 and invests in cyclist and pedestrian spaces to keep people using them safe from traffic. During the pandemic, we have made almost £39 million available to local authorities and other statutory bodies through the Spaces for People programme -which aims to provide temporary on and off-road segregated walking and cycling routes, safer junctions and improved design of local street space.
Last month’s Scottish Budget announcement of an additional £15 million direct capital for the active travel budget bringing the total annual active travel budget to £115.5 million for 2021-22.
The active travel budget compares favourably to spending on roads. Active travel funding as a percentage of our capital investment in Motorways and Trunk Roads has increased from 6.3% in 2017-18 to 28.2% in the 2021-22 budget.
On cycling, we are offering new support to increase access to bikes for all including the provision of public bike and e-bike share schemes, particularly in areas of multiple deprivation and we are supporting the use of e-bikes and adapted bikes through interest-free loans and grants.
We are committed to continuing our support for the provision of child and adult cycle training and safety programmes, including driver awareness training.
The SNP in government also recently updated the Climate Change Plan, which has 100 policies for tackling climate change. These include a commitment to support transformational active travel projects with over £500 million of investment in the next five years, delivering better active travel infrastructure, access to bikes and behaviour change schemes.
We also want to ensure local authorities work in a ‘joined-up way in delivering active travel infrastructure, linking towns and cities with ‘Active Freeways’. That’s why we have committed to investing an additional £50 million to deliver a strategic active travel network, to provide segregated active travel routes on main travel corridors to city and town centres and major trip attractors – linking communities throughout Scotland.
If we are to tackle the climate emergency and rethink the way we travel within and between our towns, cities and villages, then we need ambitious plans which not only transform our walkways and roads but allow local authorities to be ambitious in their plans to make better spaces for cycling, walking and wheeling. The SNP is not only committed to making all that happen, but to funding it too.
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.
* We did not receive a candidate blog and party statement submission from the Labour Party.