Dear Mr Salmond,
You may be aware that rather a lot of people are very upset with the proposed cuts to the proportion of transport spending that goes on active travel. Active travel is a great idea, as it achieves so many policy objectives: it is clean, it is green, it reduces congestion in towns and cities, it can boost local economic activity, and it is healthy (active people, such as regular cyclists, live longer). In addition, people who use active ways of travel are more productive at work, take fewer sick days. Supporting active travel is relatively cheap and therefore has great potential to save everybody money (the future savings in health costs alone make worthwhile).
In your 2011 Holyrood SNP manifesto, you told us that your party was committed “to increase the proportion of transport spending that goes on low-carbon, active and sustainable travel”. I assume that you did actually read this document before adding your signature to it, so it is only reasonable to expect you to stand by the commitments you and your party made in it.
However, your Government’s current spending plans show that funding to enable more local journeys to be made on foot or by bike is set to be cut by a third. This will make it much harder for Scotland to achieve its transition to a low carbon economy, decarbonise our transport sector and ensure 10% of all journeys are made by bicycle by 2020. These aims have cross-party support, as they have great potential to bring additional social, environmental and economic benefits.
You are on record as saying that Scotland should be regarded as a Nordic nation, and you frequently hold up other small nations in Europe as examples of what an independent Scotland could be. So why not learn lessons from the Nordic countries on active travel? Denmark, Sweden and Norway clearly show the way, they are actively investing in this concept and are reaping the rewards. It is not just the Nordic countries, The Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland are also embracing the benefits of active travel. These projects have been shown to have the highest Cost Benefit Ratio of all forms of transport investment.
I know that you consider the Scottish economy to be of prime importance, but poor air quality, poor public health, congestion and road safety are all major drags on the Scottish economy. The costs associated with all these ills can be reduced with a relatively small investment in active travel. So, go on, why not put your money where your mouth is?
A Scottish voter.