Published: 17th JUNE 2024

New research highlighting benefits of active travel projects in Scotland published

Reporting carried out by ߣߣƵ’ Research and Monitoring Unit (RMU) shows the positive impact of walking, wheeling and cycling projects across Scotland.

Completed at the end of 2022, Stockingfield Bridge provides the missing link in the Forth and Clyde Canal Network. Credit: ߣߣƵ/McAteer, 2023

New findings from a recent report into Places for Everyone have revealed the huge impact the programme has had on active travel experiences in and around Scotland.

Backed by Transport Scotland and managed by ߣߣƵ, Places for Everyone delivers permanent infrastructure throughout the country to help support everyday walking, wheeling and cycling journeys.

Every year, data is collected by ߣߣƵ’ Research and Monitoring Unit (RMU) and key delivery partners and an analysis of the programme is conducted.

The latest report focussed on how Places for Everyone has met key Scottish Government targets, as well as looking into specific projects and their impact locally.

What are the findings?

The results are incredibly positive, overall.

The latest analysis reveals a notable increase in route usage across Places for Everyone projects in the years following construction.

Likewise, a majority of route users feel safe in using Places for Everyone routes.

This is supported by the finding that there has been a significant reduction in casualty rates in places where Places for Everyone projects have been delivered.

Another key highlight shows that projects are largely supported by the communities in which they are delivered, with almost three quarters of local residents surveyed supporting proposals and feeling their views had been taken into account.

Reduced emissions were recorded across a sample of projects which had been delivered, as well as a significant increase in people who agreed projects had helped increase their physical activity.

Taken together, these results evidence the value that Places for Everyone brings in increasing walking, wheeling and cycling journeys across Scotland.

What about specific projects?

A number of project case studies were published as part of this year’s monitoring efforts.

This includes the newly completed South City Way in Glasgow, which has created a safe and accessible cycleway from Queen’s Park in the Southside to the heart of the city centre.

Not only was a 20% reduction in vehicles travelling over the speed limit found along the South City Way, but active travel journeys along the route have also increased by 30% following construction.

In terms of cutting carbon emissions, there has been a 53% decrease in CO2 levels since the South City Way was completed.

The South City Way provides a fully segregated cycleway, as well as junction and pavement improvements from Glasgow Southside to the city centre. Credit: Sustans/McAteer, 2023

Likewise, data was collected for Stockingfield Bridge in the North of Glasgow.

Completed in late 2022, the new bridge provides a quick and convenient off-road walking, wheeling and cycling link via the Forth and Clyde Canal network.

A significant increase in trips under 4 miles was discovered here, as well as an increase in trips for work, school and visiting friends and family.

The unique design of Stockingfield Bridge facilitates active travel journeys from three different formerly separate communities. Credit: ߣߣƵ/McAteer, 2023

Also along the canal network, the Bowline in West Dunbartonshire provides an attractive and traffic-free connection between Glasgow city centre and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

Analysis here reveals that trips have almost doubled along the traffic-free route since its opening.

The Bowline connects the Forth & Clyde Canal towpath to the wider National Cycle Network. Credit: ߣߣƵ/McAteer, 2024

Outside of the cities, Gynack Gardens in Kingussie evidenced a truly impressive impact for the local community.

Aiming to offer residents and visitors an attractive greenspace whilst also boosting active travel, the new park has helped support a 270% increase in walking, wheeling and cycling in the project area.

The park also rated highly on user perceptions of safety, accessibility, and the extent to which the space has enhanced the local area.

The new Gynack Gardens not only provides a convenient active travel connection, it also links up with the local school and serves as a community event space. Credit: ߣߣƵ/McAteer, 2024

Lastly, the new Cumbernauld Green Route also features in the report.

In providing a convenient and green connection between the centre of Cumbernauld and surrounding communities, this project has truly delivered with a significant increase in active travel along the path.

Lit underpasses and improved segregation have helped make the Cumbernauld Green a safe and attractive route for walking, wheeling and cycling Credit: ߣߣƵ, 2024

What does this mean?

Increased rates of active travel and the impact of this on physical health and emission reductions can only be a good thing.

Not only does the latest report highlight huge support for walking, wheeling and cycling across Scotland, it also evidences the clear value of continued investment in active travel delivery programmes such as Places for Everyone.

Karen McGregor, Scotland Director for ߣߣƵ, said:

'This report is the most comprehensive evaluation of Places for Everyone yet, with powerful insights and evidence into the wide ranging benefits investment in active travel is delivering.'

'It’s encouraging to see greater numbers of people choosing to walk, wheel or cycle for everyday journeys alongside evidence that both casualty rates and emissions are reducing as a result of Places For Everyone-backed projects across the country.'

'Making it easier to travel actively is a key part of creating a healthier Scotland. Not only are these new links protecting lives with safer environments to walk, wheel or cycle in, but these insights also show the potential for cleaner air and healthier, more prosperous communities unlocked when people are put at the heart of investment.'

‘Communities across Scotland want more opportunities to walk, wheel and cycle for their journeys - and this report shows they have the confidence to make the switch when we deliver safe, accessible and inclusive infrastructure.'

'The Scottish Government and Scotland’s local authorities are already playing a vital role in making this a reality for more people. I am delighted to see more evidence that decision-makers have the backing of the public to build on this further.'

Where can I read the report?

The Places for Everyone 2022-23 infrastructure impact summary report is available to download below.

An easy read version of the report is also available below.

The full Places for Everyone 2022-23 infrastructure impact report is available on request. Please contact PlacesForEveryone@sustrans.org.uk

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