Edinburgh cycle campaign Spokes hosts debate on how to cut car use by up to 30 per cent

Green active travel minister Patrick Harvie and Edinburgh’s SNP transport convener Lesley Macinnes are to take part in an online public meeting next week on measures to cut car use.

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

The event on Monday evening , organised by cycling campaign group Spokes, will focus on the Scottish Government's commitment to reduce car-kilometres by 20 per cent by 2030 and Edinburgh' s target of making that a 30 per cent reduction.

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Spokes said the pair were being brought together "to explain, debate and be challenged on the route to achieving these very tough ambitions".

Lesley Macinnes is an SNP councillor and convener of transport and environment.

In an article on its website, Spokes notes a route map to achieve the 20 per cent target, published in January 2022, is now out for public consultation. But it says: “Already a whole year, a tenth of the time to 2030, has passed since the commitment was made, with little attempt so far to engage the public.”

And it goes on: “2021 was a year in which car use fell significantly due to Covid, presenting an opportunity to lock in the benefits. Instead it has been allowed to re-assert itself, and indeed there is some evidence of car travel moving into new areas as former car commuters who now work from home use their car in the day for local trips such as shopping or school.”

Spokes says the government’s proposed measures are mostly about improving non-car options and would only later move to deterring unnecessary car use, with a Framework for Car Demand Management not to be published until 2025.

"In our view, demand-management measures should be introduced and explained to the public in parallel with the carrots of improved active travel, public transport and digital connectivity opportunities, so that people see and understand the quid pro quo and do not settle into a new pattern of continuing car use despite improved sustainable opportunities.”

Edinburgh council is committed to a 30 per cent reduction in car-kilometres. Picture: Scott Louden.

As examples of “demand management”, the article cites reducing car-parking opportunities or increasing costs; introducing congestion zones, as in London; introducing toll roads or reversing the scrapping of bridge tolls; preparing the public for full road-user charging; and expanding the Workplace Parking Levy to a full “Premises Levy” charging large stores and leisure centres for the number of customer spaces over a certain minimum.

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Spokes describes Edinburgh’s 30 per cent target as a “very bold ambition” which will demand “exceptional determination and commitment”.

And it calls for “a more specific route map” for how the council plans to achieve the reduction.

Monday’s meeting is from 7.30pm until 9.30pm.

Patrick Harvie, co-leader of the Scottish Greens and minister for active travel. Picture: John Devlin.
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After contributions from the two main speakers, Dr Caroline Brown, a member of Spokes and the Transform Scotland policy forum, will critique the government and council approaches. That will be followed by an hour of debate between the panel members, prompted by audience questions, chaired by Dr Sam Gardner, head of the Edinburgh Climate Commission.

Anyone wanting to join the meeting is urged to register in advance, although it will also be possible to access it on the day with a link live from 7.15pm.

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