Active Travel

Active Travel

Where Things Stand

Transport is the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland. But it’s also an area where we have an opportunity to significantly reduce our emissions by choosing more active forms of travel. Given that over half of journeys we make in Scotland are under 5km, if we choose to walk, wheel or cycle instead of taking the car for these shorter journeys, we’ll be playing our part in helping Scotland reach its net zero emissions target.


over half of journeys we make in Scotland

Two adults and two kids cycling through a forest
A man's hand holding onto the wheel of a wheelchair

The coronavirus pandemic has also shown us how we can change the way we do things very quickly. Travel restrictions mean that we’ve been travelling differently, discovering our local communities and making more journeys by walking, wheeling and cycling. Transport Scotland has been monitoring trends throughout the pandemic and have seen car use decrease, whilst Cycling Scotland have reported massive increases in the number of people cycling. A Nature Scot lockdown survey also saw people report health and wellbeing benefits after spending time outdoors – we’re able to de-stress, relax and unwind, feel energised and revitalised and our physical health is improved.

Check out Transport Scotland’s guidance on walking, wheeling and cycling during Covid-19.

So by reducing our transport emissions through choosing to walk, wheel or cycle, it’ll have a positive impact on our health and wellbeing. It’ll also help decrease congestion and pollution, benefitting our communities up and down the country with cleaner, fresher air. Together we can all play our part to help improve Scotland’s environment and reach net zero emissions.

Active Travel

Guides for you

Active Travel

What We're Doing

The Scottish Government has set out an active travel vision for Scotland, that by 2030, for the benefit of our communities, walking or cycling will be the most popular choice for shorter everyday journeys. Not only will this cut carbon emissions and other pollution, but it will give us more pleasant communities to live in, improve our health and wellbeing, reduce inequalities and support sustainable economic growth.  

It will mean that more people will be walking, wheeling and cycling for everyday, shorter journeys and active travel will be seen as the normal thing to do. Our roads will also be quieter and safer which will help encourage people to get out and about by foot or bike, whether it be for work, study, shopping or socialising.

A person walking on a hill with a city view in the background
People walking and cycling along the Forth Road bridge

To support the move to active travel in Scotland, we increased active travel investment in 2020-21 to over £100 million and we also announced in our 2020 Programme for Government over £500 million investment in active travel over the next 5 years. This investment will help improve active travel infrastructure and will transform the way we move around. It will ensure accessibility to both bikes and e-bikes, and give the high quality infrastructure that people need to walk, wheel and cycle more often. And we’ll continue to communicate with people about the benefits of active travel so they can make use of this improved infrastructure.

Read more about investment in active travel:

We’re also working with local government to develop 20 minute neighbourhoods – an idea that has become popular across the world in places like Melbourne and Paris. It means that people can meet most of their essential needs, such as leisure activities, school, local services, GP practice and ideally work, all within a 20 minute walk. This local environment will help people walk, wheel and cycle more often.

Illustration of people at the park
people walking along the Meadows in Edinburgh

We’ve also been responsive to the rapid changes we’ve had to make due to the coronavirus pandemic. Transport Scotland has re-purposed £39 million of funding to deliver the Spaces for People programme in response to the Covid-19 emergency, which has allowed local authorities to put in place temporary active travel measures. This has helped people to physically distance and keep safe whilst they’re out and about.

By taking these actions we’re helping more people in Scotland to walk, wheel and cycle, who are in turn reducing their emissions and playing their part to reach net zero.

Active Travel

Resources and Links