What do the Scottish election results mean for cycling?

Jim Densham's picture

What do the Scottish election results mean for cycling?

The Scottish National Party won the most seats at last week's Scottish election, but fell just short of a majority. What do the results mean for cycling? Cycling UK's campaigns and policy manager for Scotland explains

Voting in the Scottish Parliament election is complete and the ballots have been counted.

There was no all-night election results TV marathon. Instead, I watched two afternoons of a map gradually being coloured in – mostly in yellow, followed on Saturday evening by splashes of blue, red and green as the regional list seats were allocated.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) returns to the Scottish Parliament as the largest party but as yet, we don’t know if they will form a minority government or have any formal agreement with the Greens.

What is certain, is that they will need to rely on other parties to get laws passed and their agenda taken forward.

In the previous parliament, it was often the Greens who lent the SNP their support in return for policy changes, such as the increased budget for cycling and active travel earlier this year.

This parliament could be much the same.

More funding needed

All the main parties made positive promises for cycling – we rounded these up in our pre-election manifesto comparison.

Every party promised to boost the funding for active travel which was hugely positive and helped by more than 3,000 of you who signed our petition, asking parties to support our manifesto asks.

The SNP’s commitment was the lowest, which was disappointing – promising to increase spending on active travel from 3.5% of the transport budget to only 5.5%.

We will be talking to them in the coming months about the need for an even greater commitment, and to remind them that the YouGov poll we commissioned showed that 47% of people want to see at least 10% of the transport budget spent on active travel.

We will also work with the Greens and other parties to push the government for more.

We will be pushing the parties to work together for the good of people who want to cycle, and to make change happen quickly

Jim Densham, Cycling UK's campaigns and policy manager for Scotland

Actions to boost cycling

Party manifestos included a range of ideas on how to make cycling a safe, enjoyable and everyday activity.

We will be pushing the parties to work together for the good of people who want to cycle, and to make change happen quickly.

Amongst the many commitments there were some interesting and radical new ideas appearing which will be exciting to discuss and seek wider support for.

The SNP’s headline was to provide free bikes for all children of school age who cannot afford them, whilst the Conservatives wanted to boost the role of Scotland’s Action Nation Commissioner.

If they got into power, Labour promised to convert all residential areas to low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs), whereas the Liberal Democrats wanted to change town planning processes to make sure roads have separate spaces for cyclists.

Finally, the Greens proposed a Safe to School programme to ensure every child who lives within two miles of school is able to safely walk or wheel there.

Building on support for cycling

Hundreds of you also asked your candidates to support our key asks for cycling, with over 10,000 letters sent to candidates in total.

Thanks to your efforts, 30 MSPs taking their seats in the new parliament have taken this pledge to support cycling.

We will be in touch with all of them to offer them our support in keeping their pledges and working for the interests of people who cycle and who want to cycle more.

Our Manifesto for Cycling explained to the parties the range of actions needed to make Scotland a cycling nation.

The manifesto vision continues even though the election is over, and the message holds true: "It’s time for the next Scottish Government to move up the gears and invest in the cycling infrastructure and safety improvements needed so that more people can cycle and experience its benefits. Together we can create a healthier, happier, more attractive and low-carbon Scotland."

I’m looking forward to meeting the MSPs to gain support for our vision and policies over the next five years.

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