The Scottish Office has set up a Scottish Cycling Forum to help promote cycling and to advise on how to achieve increased levels of cycling.
Lord James was speaking at the launch of the publication of the Scottish Office policy booklet on cycling, Cycling into the Future. Tony Grant of the sustainable transport charity Sustrans and Brian Curtis of the Cyclists' Touring Club also welcomed the booklet on behalf of their organisations at the launch.
Lord James said: 'This booklet outlines what the Scottish Office is doing to promote cycling in Scotland and to encourage the development of more cycling facilities. It highlights the advantages of cycling as a transport choice, as a leisure pursuit and as a way to a healthier lifestyle. It also looks at a number of safety concerns.
'The forum will play a valuable role in helping to formulate the strategies of the National Strategy Group, which, under the chairmanship of the department of transport, is currently working on a national strategy for cycling. The Scottish Office and COSLA are participating in the Steering Group which will report its findings at a conference in July.
'I know that Scotland has a relatively low level of cycle use compared to many countries in Europe. Given this, I think it ought to be possible to double existing levels of use by the year 2002. I have, therefore, asked the Scottish Cycling Forum to consider further the question of national and local targets in Scotland. This might, for example, focus upon types of trips and different categories of cyclists.
'The new unitary authorities have a key task in assessing the particular circumstances and needs of the people in their areas and the role cycling can play. I hope that our new booklet will encourage them to continue to build on the good work undertaken by their predecessors. Other organisations with an important contribution to make include Scottish Enterprise, Highland and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Tourist Board, the Forestry Commission, employers and organisations acting for cyclists' interests.'