Statistics published today by Transport Scotland show that last year 513 pedestrians were seriously injured on Scotland’s roads, a twelve per cent rise on the year before. 156 cyclists were seriously injured, a thirteen per cent rise.
Earlier this year I secured cross-party agreement in the parliament that the government should implement a rolling programme of infrastructure upgrades for pedestrians and cyclists, expand 20 mph zones in residential and shopping streets, and ensure every child has the chance of on-road cycle training by 2015.
It is clear from the figures that the government and other agencies are failing to properly tackle the sort of road conditions that are putting pedestrians and cyclists at risk. To see so many more people seriously injured while on their bike or while trying to cross a street is shocking, and I hope it makes the SNP government realise that its response has been weak – nothing more than a fig leaf.
While I of course welcome the overall reduction in casualties on the roads, I remain seriously concerned that ministers simply don’t understand the benefits of using their transport budget to encourage a walking and cycling culture in Scotland.
Medical experts, business interests and other campaigners all point to evidence that making such a shift would radically improve public health, generate more spending in local shops, cut the congestion that harms business and cut costs in the long-run for the NHS.