Huge opportunity for permanent shift to walking and cycling

Joint press release from Ramblers Scotland, Cycling UK Scotland & Transform Scotland

We have today published a joint response to the National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4) Scottish Government consultation on National Walking and Cycling Infrastructure with Transform Scotland and Cycling UK Scotland.

Helen Todd, Ramblers Scotland campaigns & policy manager, said: “Together we’re calling for a transformative investment in our national path network, to make walking and cycling the most attractive, safe and easy options for short urban and rural trips.

“Most journeys in Scotland are under 5km, so there’s a huge opportunity to help many more people permanently shift to walking and cycling for their local transport and leisure journeys.

“Major investment in paths would also be an important step towards ensuring Scotland hits our sustainability and health targets – particularly as transport still accounts for 37% of Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

Jim Densham, of Cycling UK Scotland, said: “Infrastructure relating to walking and cycling is generally seen as local level development, but we believe that the transformation in culture and behaviour that is required is so great that it needs to be led at a national level first.

“In other words, the approach, leadership and funding are required strategically at a national and then regional level to support local authorities to deliver this change locally.”

Active travel funding has increased over recent years but is still just over 3% of the overall transport budget.

For many people leisure walking or cycling is the main way they are able to keep active, and the evidence is clear that there are huge benefits to health and wellbeing of being active in nature. 

We suggest that the active travel elements of this project are predominantly funded by adjustments to the transport budget, and specifically the Scottish Government’s trunk road and motorways budget over the next 10 years. 

Given the situation, we are calling for phased annual increases of active travel funding over the next decade to go beyond 10% and by 2030 to aim for an allocation of up to 20% of transport budgets on sustainable transport (excluding investment in buses and trains) to bring infrastructure up to the required standard.

Colin Howden, of Transform Scotland, said: “Scientists predict that we have a decade to make transformative change and respond to both the climate and nature emergencies. Current progress is just too slow so our proposal is aimed at making change happen on the ground.

“We want an acceleration in infrastructure expansion, with significant investment in walking and cycling over the next 10 years.

"We believe people will be more willing to make personal changes in the way they travel if the infrastructure is there to support them to travel safely and easily by active and sustainable modes.”

In our response, we highlight four areas to improve National Walking and Cycling Infrastructure:

1. A rapid expansion of active travel infrastructure including:

  • Cycle lanes physically separated from traffic along arterial routes into all towns and cities
  • An integrated network of local walking and cycling routes using quiet roads in each town and city
  • Increase in revenue funding in line with the increase in capital funding
  • Integration of walking and cycling with public transport

2. Rapid development of paths for leisure and recreation including:

  • Phased expansion of National Walking & Cycling Network
  • National Cycle Network (NCN) and other ‘green route’ improvement as currently, only 27% of the NCN is on traffic-free routes
  • Mapping Scotland’s paths, to create a proper network and prioritise funding and maintenance, and also to improve people’s knowledge of where they can find paths to walk or cycle.
  • A car-free tourism project to identify where public transport routes and services could be boosted and promoted to encourage more people to arrive by public transport and active travel.
  • Upgrading upland paths

3. Investment in transition skills training and capacity building for transport planners and construction staff

  • It is clear to us that local authorities and Transport Scotland do not currently have the institutional capacity to deliver a massively expanded network of walking and cycling routes, paths and related infrastructure

4. Other related measures

  • We would envisage that all projects relating to sustainable transport and active travel would continue and expand to support the public’s modal shift.

Read the full response here