THERE is "no way on earth" the Scottish Government can achieve its flagship cycling target of one in ten journeys being made by bike by 2020, critics have said, after the latest travel statistics revealed a decline in cycling.

Campaigners called on ministers to plough investment into walking and cycling infrastructure instead of roads as heavy traffic was blamed for discouraging people from commuting by bike.

The SNP Government also came under fire for pursuing a cut in Air Passenger Duty (APD) despite air travel experiencing the fastest passenger growth of any mode of transport, up 22 per cent since 2010.

The 'Transport and Travel in Scotland' report found that 2.2 per cent of people "usually" cycled to work in 2015, down from 2.4 per cent in 2014. Among those who did not, nearly a third said they were put off by "too many cars on the road" or because "traffic travels too fast".

It comes as the estimated volume of traffic on Scotland's roads hit a record high in 2015, up by around one per cent year-on-year.

Meanwhile, cycling accounted for only 1.2 per cent of all journeys in 2015, down from 1.4 per cent the previous year.

The dip leaves the Scottish Government with a battle to increase cycling rates more than eight-fold in five years - a task critics say is now impossible.

Dave de Feu, of the Spokes cycle campaign, said: “With under two per cent of its transport budget allocated to cycling, the SNP manifesto's 'determination' to achieve its 'vision' of 10 per cent of journeys by bike in 2020 is in fact a mirage.

"Evidence from English towns and from Europe suggests 10 per cent of journeys by bike would not even be achieved by 2030 at this level of investment."

Mike Rumbles, the Scottish LibDems' transport spokesman, said: “Putting a cut in Air Passenger Duty ahead of investment in active travel is the wrong priority at a time when we are so far behind our cycling targets. The percentage of journeys taken by bike is now lower than was the case in 2011.

"Unless we see investment now there is no way on earth that the 2020 targets of 10 per cent of journeys to be taken by bike will be met. We will not get anywhere near it at this rate.”

The Scottish Government spent 1.9 per cent of the transport budget in 2015 on pedestrian and cycle paths.

Campaigners urged ministers to ring-fence 10 per cent of the transport budget for active travel, pointing to the example set by Edinburgh City Council.

The local authority has gradually increased the share of the transport budget spent on walking and cycling from five per cent in 2012 to nine per cent currently and the capital now boasts the highest cycling rates in Scotland, accounting for more than 10 per cent of journeys to work.

Emilia Hanna, of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said encouraging people to swap the car for active travel was also vital to cutting deadly air pollution.

She added: “If investment rates don’t change, then cycle rates won’t change. The best bit is that it doesn’t require any new money from Government but rather a shift in existing spending away from building yet more roads towards healthier, active travel.”

A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland said the long-term trend showed cycling rates increasing.

Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf, said: “The Scottish Government has consistently demonstrated a strategic commitment to supporting sustainable and active travel through our long term Active Travel Vision commitments.

"We are investing over £1 billion per year in public and sustainable transport to encourage people onto public transport and active travel modes.

"Compared to 2013/14, we have increased investment in active travel by over 80 per cent.

“We made a commitment in the Programme for Government to match this record level of funding over the course of this Parliament and, furthermore, we will review the programmes that the Future Transport Fund supports to ensure that they are effectively targeted to reduce transport emissions, improve air quality and promote active lifestyles.

“In addition, we are providing a further £5 million of funding in 2016/17 to develop behaviour change aspects of the Smarter Choices Smarter Places programme.

"This focuses on locally designed initiatives, including travel planning, and has attracted £6.5m in local match funding.

"In 2016/17 Sustrans will distribute over £18m of Scottish Government funding to help deliver 180 cycling projects across Scotland through the Community Links Fund.

"This programme has attracted over £23m in match funding this year (16/17), supporting the delivery of active travel infrastructure in communities across the country.”