How cy­clists are win­ning on the wheel of for­tune

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - NEWS - By Toby McDon­ald

More pub­lic cash is spent pro­mot­ing bikes but walk­ing is more pop­u­lar, claim ex­perts

Ex­perts have urged the Gov­ern­ment to spend as much cash on walk­ers and pedes­tri­ans as cy­clists.

Re­search sug­gests more pub­lic cash is be­ing spent on “fash­ion­able” cy­cling routes at the ex­pense of walk­ing.

The find­ings have emerged as we re­veal one coun­cil spent £325,000 on a cy­cle lane only a few hun­dred me­tres long.

The Med­i­cal Re­search Coun­cil re­port re­veals just one in four daily jour­neys in Scot­land are ac­tive with the vast ma­jor­ity in­volv­ing walk­ing.

But Glas­gow Univer­sity’s Dr Jonathan Olsen, who led the study, said politi­cians have ne­glected the ben­e­fits of walk­ing in favour of cy­cling.

He said: “While much at­ten­tion has fo­cused on pro­mot­ing cy­cling, it ac­counted for only 4% of all ac­tive jour­neys, com­pared to walk­ing which ac­counted for the re­main­ing 96%.

“Walk­ing is a fa­mil­iar, con­ve­nient and free mode of trans­port and ex­er­cise, for which in­fra­struc­ture is well es­tab­lished in most ur­ban and some ru­ral ar­eas.

“Since it re­mains by far the most likely mode of ac­tive travel, it should be pro­moted as much as cy­cling.”

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment is in­creas­ing the cash spent on “ac­tive travel” ev­ery year from £40 mil­lion to £ 80 mil­lion but de­clined to give a break­down of its spend­ing on walk­ing and cy­cling ini­tia­tives.

Among the pub­li­cised schemes are an £18 mil­lion com­mit­ment last year to­wards a Na­tional Cy­cle Net­work, while the char­ity Paths For All re­ceived £ 5 mil­lion from the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment in 2016.

Tam Fry, 80, chair­man of the Na­tional Obe­sity Fo­rum – who walks three miles a day be­fore break­fast – said: “Trans­port Min­is­ter Humza Yousaf should get off his bike or his bus and put his weight be­hind walk­ing. He should then prac­tise what he’s preach­ing: he’ll feel health­ier for it.

“Bikes have their place but can cost a lot of money which many peo­ple may not have. Every­one has feet, how­ever, and they don’t need stor­ing – or oil­ing!”

The MRC re­port shows al­most two-thirds of Scots still take a car to work – up 2% in 2016 – and fewer than 10% use a bus.

Cy­cling only amounts to around 1% of all jour­neys, al­though it showed a slight in­crease

Min­is­ter for Pub­lic Health and Sport Aileen Camp­bell said: “We have put in place record in­vest­ment in walk­ing and cy­cling, and will con­tinue to do so for the life of this par­lia­ment.

“From next year we will dou­ble our ac­tive travel bud­get from £40 mil­lion to £80 mil­lion.

“This in­volves mak­ing our towns and ci­ties safer and more pleas­ant spa­ces for cy­clists and pedes­tri­ans and ap­point­ing an Ac­tive Na­tion Com­mis­sioner to en­sure de­liv­ery of world class ac­tive travel in­fra­struc­ture.

The con­tro­ver­sial cy­cle lane in Cam­bus­lang’s Main Street which cost the lo­cal au­thor­ity al­most £325,000

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