OPPOSITION politicians have hit out at cuts of one-third to "active" travel budgets which they claim will make it harder to increase the number of trips made by bike or foot.

In an open letter to Finance Secretary John Swinney, Labour's Claudia Beamish, Jim Hume for the Liberal Democrats and the Greens' Patrick Harvie accused the Finance Secretary of betraying a 2011 SNP manifesto commitment to raise transport spending on "low carbon, active and sustainable travel".

Spending on active travel has dropped from £18.5 million this financial year to £12.4m in 2012/14, taking it from 1% of transport spending to 0.6%.

"The [Scottish] Government's current spending plans show funding to enable more local journeys to be made on foot or by bike is still set to be cut by one-third. This will make it much harder for Scotland to achieve its transition to a low carbon economy, decarbonise our transport sector and ensure 10% of all journeys are made by bicycle by 2020 – ambitions we all support," the MSPs wrote.

John Lauder, director of sustainable transport charity Sustrans Scotland, said: "Over the last four years, active travel programmes have had a major impact on reducing carbon emissions and making Scots healthier. It's disappointing that so far the SNP has failed to listen to evidence and reverse their proposed cuts."

A spokesman for Government agency Transport Scotland said it had invested £83m in infrastructure and other measures to encourage active travel since 2007.

He added: "Despite the 36% real terms cut to our capital budget imposed by Westminster, we remain committed to developing the sustainable transport agenda, promoting active travel and public transport alternatives to the private car."