Transport Minister's New Year Message
Transport Minister Keith Brown is encouraging Scots to make 2012 the year they explore alternative means of travel, including cycling, walking and using public transport.
"Many of us rely on our cars to get about. Personally, my car acts as a mobile office, allowing me to catch up on work in between engagements in a way I wouldn't be able to using other means of transport.
"However, I know that there are journeys I make where I could leave the car at home and often I feel the benefit of doing so.
"We have some of the most stunning scenery in the world right on our doorstep and you really see the best of it if you take a train journey or get out on your bike. Even in our cities, you are never far from some countryside or the sea and you just don't see the best of it sitting in your car.
"This Government continues to support rail in Scotland with almost 75 per cent of the cost of a ticket paid through Government subsidies. There are also reduced fares available for certain passengers, including young people and over 50s.
"In Scotland we also have a vast network of bus and coach services which link up our cities and towns and ferry services linking our island communities with the mainland. Sitting back on a ferry as you leave the mainland behind and approach a stunning beach in the Western Isles is a great way to relax.
"And if you're looking for a more unusual way to travel, Scotland has a number of waterways that cut through some of the finest scenery Scotland has to offer.
"Cycling in Scotland is more accessible than ever and a great way to get some exercise without having to fit a gym session into your day. We are investing in infrastructure such as cycle paths and cycle lanes, as well as campaigns aimed at raising driver awareness of cyclists, all of which is making cycling safer. We are also trying to encourage children to get involved in cycling from an early age with our cycle training in primary schools programme.
"I took part in Pedal for Scotland back in September and was impressed that 14,000 people turned out for this great even, a sign that cycling is growing in popularity.
"Finally, the most sustainable mode of transport of all is your feet! Short journeys can often be made on foot and walking is a great way to stay active, clear your head and reduce your carbon footprint all at once.
"We are fortunate in Scotland to have a range of transport options available to us and I would encourage people to explore more of these in 2012."
Mr Brown also paid tribute to the people who kept Scotland moving during episodes of severe weather, including the storms which hit the country last month.
"While we are currently enjoying a break from the severe weather that battered much of Scotland in early December, I do want to pay tribute to those who were involved then and continue to help keep Scotland moving now and throughout the year, often in very trying circumstances.
"Be it gritter drivers, the emergency services, transport authorities, operating companies or local council staff who work so very hard in responding to the many challenges the severe weather brings, or members of the public who listen to the advice from police and travel authorities, almost everyone can play their part.
"We are not complacent, and we know that we will face more challenges in the weeks and months ahead, but Scotland has shown that it is well prepared to cope with challenging conditions so far - including an unprecedented red warning from the Met Office."