As the first wave of COVID sent us into lockdown, we saw our roads empty of traffic. For many, it was the first time we could see just how much space we’d devoted in our towns and cities to the needs of private motoring – and how everything else has gradually been confined to the margins. We also saw how quickly people flocked to reclaim that space – especially in areas where they did not have ready access to green spaces near their homes. 

Over the decades, as walking, cycling and especially wheeling have been squeezed out of our streets, car dependency has grown. The resulting vicious cycle has created problems across the board. Pollution, congestion, ill-health, food and transport poverty, climate change, and childhood obesity are exacerbated when people don’t feel it is safe or pleasant to walk or cycle themselves, or with their families, particularly their children. Many disabled people find themselves trapped in their own homes if they don’t have the means to take a taxi or use a car.

 To break this cycle of growing gridlock we must start to undo the changes we have made that have allowed our towns and cities to become dominated by traffic. Forty years of investment in motoring cannot be undone overnight. But by starting from the needs of children, the elderly, and disabled people we can create places where everyone has the choice to get about under their own steam. This in turn will make it easier for those who need to use a motor vehicle to drive. The result will be a Scotland that is healthier, wealthier – and, above all, happier. 

To achieve this end, we call on all our candidates in the Holyrood election to sign up to these three concrete pledges:

  • Accessibility: Ensure that our streets, paths and footways are accessible to everyone, whether on foot or using any form of mobility aid; by putting accessibility at the heart of our street design, we will create places everyone can use and enjoy. More…
  • Infrastructure: Create a long-term programme to rebuild our villages, towns and cities around walking, wheeling and cycling, with active travel infrastructure everyone can use – the initial goal should be that every child who wants to can walk, wheel or cycle to their school. More…
  • Investment: Provide the sustained, long-term investment needed to start this transformation of Scotland into a country that enables active travel everywhere – starting from 10% of the transport budget, and rising to 20% over the course of the parliament. More…
Sustainable transport hierarchy - Walking and wheeling at the top, the private car at the bottom

We’re have briefing notes on all three of these asks, summarising the evidence behind them: accessibility, infrastructure and investment (all PDFs).