Posts Tagged Scotland

Transport Scotland and its attitude to active transport spending

Transport Scotland had planned to spend £27m on low-carbon, sustainable and active transport, of which cycling is but a part, over  3 years (I presume roughly from 2013 to 2015?). Which makes the annual budget be £9m.

Now, if you were about to hand out £424k of that £9m – just about 5% of the entire annual budget for low-carbon, sustainable, and active transport – you’d do your homework on it, wouldn’t you? You might want a detailed proposal, with goals and metrics, perhaps? You’d want to see some detailed proposals for what the campaign might cover, no? You’d possibly need some back and forth to give feedback and work out the details, which’d generate minutes and emails, right? Surely?

Not if you’re Transport Scotland. No. Transport Scotland, it seems, will hand out £424k – again that’s pretty much 5% of the entire annual, active transport budget – based on nothing more than barely 2-pages of a proposal. A proposal with the scantest of details, and which couldn’t have taken more than 30 minutes to write up. That’s all it takes to get £424k from Transport Scotland, at least in terms of anything that leaves a record, apparently.

This is Transport Scotland’s official stance, made in response to my Freedom of Information request about the commissioning of the Nice Way Code, which they re-iterated to the Scottish Information Commissioner, after I appealed on grounds of incredulity.

I think this stinks of a somewhat cavalier, uncaring, and dismissive attitude both to public money, and to active transport policy in Scotland. I would expect Transport Scotland to be a lot more careful with 5% of their budget for active transport.

I think that’s fairly scandalous.

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Does Cycling Scotland promote cycling as dangerous?

Letter to cycling I sent to Cycling Scotland via their website recently, after noticing how many of the images there “dangerise” cycling. I wonder if their efforts, however well-intentioned, may actually be counter-productive.


In your “About Us” you state a number of goals for your organisation, including goal 4:

Show that cycling is a safe, effective and economical transport option that’s better for the people of Scotland, and for their environment

Every picture on your website appears to show cyclists wearing safety equipment. The section on “bikeability” training – targeted at children – has pictures of children in hi-viz vests along with helmets. Further, though I have not yet looked at your training materials, I assume from the visual message on your website that you also strongly promote safety equipment to any potential cyclists or parents.

I am curious how you reconcile goal 4 with the message you seem to have deliberately created that cycling is so dangerous that it requires safety equipment? A message which is course not grounded in reality, as cycling is little more dangerous than other normal, daily activities such as walking beside the road.

I note that in the Netherlands, which has the best cycling safety in the western world along with the highest cycling rates, there is almost no use of safety equipment. Thus, it is an undeniable fact that helmets and hi-viz are not a pre-requisite for safe cycling. Are you perhaps working against real safe cycling by helping promulgate a false sense of cycling danger, and thus perhaps turning off more people from cycling than you encourage?


Paul Jakma

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