During a statement provided to the Scottish Parliament, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson announced that up to £51 million is available for walking and cycling infrastructure in 2019/2020.

The record funding has been allocated through the Scottish Government’s active travel budget and will be match funded through applications to the Places for Everyone infrastructure programme, which is administered on behalf of Transport Scotland by sustainable transport charity Sustrans Scotland.

Sustrans has received project proposals from 30 local authorities for segregated paths, improvements to the public realm and projects intended to make Scotland’s towns and cities safer and friendlier places to live, work and spend time in. The successful projects will be announced in the coming months.

Following the statement, Tom Arthur MSP highlighted the work of Neilston Development Trust in promoting cycling both in Neilston and in East Renfrewshire. Among its many community-focused activities, the organisation delivers a range of services to promote cycling both in Neilston and across East Renfrewshire – including repairs and maintenance, reconditioning donated bikes, and providing training – through the NDT Cycling project.

The Renfrewshire South MSP asked the Cabinet Secretary to update Parliament on the opportunities available for community-led groups, such as Neilston Development Trust, to contribute to national targets for increased cycling through the Cycling Action Plan.

In his response, the Cabinet Secretary highlighted the £7.28 million invested in 2018/19 on a range of behaviour changing activities to encourage more people to walk and cycle safely and confidently, including the Cycling Friendly Community Fund which aims to support local initiatives in the valuable work they do.

Neilston Development Trust received funding earlier this year through the Cycle Friendly Employer programme, provided by the Scottish Government, which focuses on making cycling more accessible for commuters to incorporate into their daily lives and welcomed news of increased funds from the Scottish Government to support active travel. 

Gerardo Ballesteros, NDT Cycling Manager said:

 “We work with employers, commuters, schools and communities across the Greater Renfrewshire region to get more people and families travelling actively on a daily basis and as part of their recreational pursuits. 

“Improving the facilities and infrastructure supporting cycling really makes a difference to people’s commitment, confidence and enjoyment”.

Tom Arthur MSP added:

“Last year, the SNP Government doubled the active travel budget from £39 million to £80 million, and has maintained this record funding again this year to increase the speed of change in the number of people walking and cycling and to develop and Active Nation.

“It’s great to have organisations such as the Neilston Development Trust in the constituency promoting interest and uptake in cycling at a community level. We are also lucky to have so many cycling opportunities in the local area, with nearby Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park working with many leading bodies including Sustrans to maintain cycle routes in efforts to help provide a cleaner, green and healthier lifestyle. This includes the Sustrans Lochwinnoch Loop Line which passes through Johnstone, Elderslie, Lochwinnoch, Kilbarchan and Castle Semple Country Park.

“This increased funding means that local authorities and other stakeholders can make it easier for people to walk and cycle by delivering safe, well designed, high-quality infrastructure.”

Clyde Muirshiel, Scotland’s largest regional park, is another local success story, having successfully used Cycling Scotland’s Cycle Friendly programme to help encourage staff and visitors to cycle within the park and achieving Cycling Scotland Cycle Friendly Employer and Cycle Friendly Community awards in 2015 and 2017 respectively.

Also in 2017, Clyde Muirshiel was successful in securing a grant from the Cycle Friendly Employer Development Fund which it was used to create a drying room and install dedicated cycle parking for up to 60 bikes, where before there was virtually no provision.

David Hill, Senior Instructor at the park, said:

“We have certainly seen an increase in the number of staff commuting and also cycling for fitness during breaks or with the cycling club after work which has been great to see.

“In addition to the staff benefits we have also had the extra bonus of improved facilities for all the cyclists who visit the centre, so the process has been very worthwhile for all sections of the cycling community in this area.”

Places for Everyone is the new simplified scheme by Sustrans Scotland to encourage high quality place making applications from Scotland’s local authorities. It combines what was previously known as Community Links, Community Links PLUS and Safer Routes to Schools into a streamlined package of funding.

For more information visit: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/scotland/places-for-everyone 

To learn more about how the Scottish Government is working to build an Active Nation visit: www.transport.gov.scot/activenation

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