WITH exceptional timing, Storm Aileen breezed into Scotland on National Cycle to Work Day.

I'm middle aged, average fitness and borderline overweight, but cycling even a couple of miles to work is worth a go and not beyond what most people can do with the right support and facilities from their employer.

In the end, I cycled into the Scottish Parliament from home – 48 miles in under three and a half hours.

While my soggy legs would definitely be in favour of shifting Cycle to Work Day to summer next year, there is a wider point. Cycling short distances to work, school or the shops is a great way to build a bit of exercise into your daily routine. It’s free and great for your health.

According to research by Cyclescheme, the average cycle commute burns 235 calories and eight out of 10 cyclists say their daily ride makes them less stressed in the office. A little bit of regular cycling keeps you fit and helps you live longer.

But many people who might be persuaded to give it a go are put off by the risk on the roads. This is where the Scottish Government needs to step up a gear. The recent Programme for Government was described by some as “the greenest ever” but there’s still a hill to climb.

The first minister spoke of increasing investing in cycling and walking but it still represents a tiny proportion of the transport budget, with motorways keeping the lion’s share. We really need a big shift in priorities, and a move from building more roads to properly investing and maintaining what we’ve got.

For many people, commuting by bike isn’t going to be a realistic option every day. But that shouldn’t mean we ignore the opportunity to provide alternatives to the car.

I’ve long supported the campaign to reinstate passenger services on the Alloa to Dunfermline line. A feasibility study is underway for Fife Council, and I look forward to the results.

The re-opening of Alloa station ten years ago has been a huge success, and we need to continue to build on this and open up new employment and investment opportunities between Clackmannanshire and West Fife.

A shift in the Scottish Government’s capital budget is needed to create a pipeline of new rail projects across Scotland. While the government’s emphasis on increasing the sale of electric cars is welcome, they won’t tackle congestion. Showrooms full of electric cars will be cold comfort if rail lines remain abandoned under weeds.

Constituents can get in touch with me via my Stirling office – 67a King Street, Stirling, FK8 1BN. Call 01786 448203 or email mark.ruskell.msp@parliament.scot to book a surgery appointment or share an issue.