John’s General Question 31st October 2013

Below you can find the transcript of John’s General Question from 31st October 2013

Cyclists (Safety Improvements)

John Finnie (Highlands and Islands) (Ind):

To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to improve safety for cyclists. (S4O-02528)

The Minister for Transport and Veterans (Keith Brown): We are improving road safety for cyclists through a wide range of measures around the three Es—engineering, education and enforcement. We are increasing investment in cycling infrastructure, with additional funding of £20 million over the next two years being announced in the draft budget on top of the £58 million already allocated since the 2011 spending review, and we have developed road user awareness campaigns to foster mutual respect on the roads.

The Scottish Government’s road safety framework to 2020 includes commitments on education and training, improved signage, consideration of cycling in the context of roads maintenance and design, and the use of 20mph zones in all residential areas. A broad portfolio of approaches is needed and will continue to be developed to improve cyclist safety.

John Finnie: I thank the minister for that detailed response. Police Scotland has record numbers of officers at the moment. In the past, police officers engaged with primary schools on cycling proficiency. Things have moved on, but there is surely an opportunity for the police to engage with young people on road safety. Will the minister get in touch with Police Scotland and the Cabinet Secretary for Justice to encourage that approach, which could only enhance community safety?

Keith Brown: The police have a major role to play in the enforcement measures that I mentioned in my first response, but it is also the case that substantial initiatives are under way to ensure that all children get the chance to have on-the-road safety training. Previously, training was often done in the playground, whereas now it is done on the road. That is the right way in which to proceed.

On safety in general, we have seen a decrease in fatalities; the figure is down to 174 people from the previous 185. We have seen decreases in total casualties, child casualties, child fatalities, pedestrian casualties and motorcyclist fatalities.

The stand-out is the increase that we have seen in cyclist casualties, so there is no question but that we must give the matter further attention. The best way in which to deal with the matter is to make sure that every child has the chance to have on-the-road training, which will reassure both them and their parents that it is safe to cycle