Scotland needs decent roads and clean travel, not another motorway

Alison Johnstone, Health spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Lothian, will tonight (21 March) tell an audience of cycling campaigners that with more Green MSPs Scotland can improve public health and the economy by redirecting the roads budget to tackle the nation's pothole backlog.

Alison, who is due to take part in the Spokes hustings in Edinburgh, led the Scottish Parliament's first debate on cycling in 2012, set up the cross-party group on cycling and secured a cycle safety summit chaired by a government minister following a series of accidents and fatalities.

Currently, there is a £2billion road maintenance backlog, affecting all road users but particularly vulnerable road users such as cyclists.

The Scottish Greens' Holyrood election manifesto, due to be launched in the coming weeks, is expected to include a commitment to push for some of the roads budget to be redirected to address the maintenance backlog. The SNP Government has increased spending on motorways and trunk roads from £695million last year to £820million this year, while spending on cycling and air quality has remained flat.

Research has shown that investment in road maintenance rather than new roads creates 70 per cent more job hours.

Other pledges expected from the Scottish Greens on walking and cycling include:

-Increasing the proportion of the transport budget spent on cycling and walking to 10 per cent. The SNP has failed to spend even 2 per cent in this way.

-Giving communities control to decide which routes and junctions should be priorities for repair and improvement.

-Rolling out 20mph speed limits in residential areas.

-Lengthened crossing times at pedestrian crossings.

-Giving every child in Scotland the opportunity to undertake on-road cycle training. The SNP has cut funding for safe cycling and walking routes to schools.

Alison said:

"With local authority budgets cut by the SNP Government, many are struggling to keep on top of road maintenance. All road users are suffering due to an estimated repair backlog of £2 billion. Some of the funding set aside for new roads should be redirected. Let's fix what we've got instead of adding even more to an already over-stretched network.

"I have made it clear to SNP ministers that spending on maintenance is far better for local businesses and our economy than continuing to shovel millions into massive new road projects. We need a bolder Holyrood with more Green voices to press the case.

"10 per cent of the total transport budget would bring us into line with other northern European countries, where cycling and walking for short journeys is the norm. We have a public health crisis in Scotland's town and city centres with unacceptable levels of air pollution contributing to heart attacks and strokes. Congestion also holds back local businesses.

"Prioritising cycling, walking and high quality public transport is good for our health, and good for our economy. Successive SNP and Labour-led governments have failed to act. Greens know a better Scotland is possible."