Active travel

Active travel (walking, wheeling and cycling) is a great way to get from A to B without fossil fuels. Whilst some journeys and situations may require a car, the more journeys you replace with active travel, the more money and carbon you will save. Active travel isn't just good for your wallet and the environment, it also improves health and wellbeing.

woman cycling a cargo bike with a child

Climate change and the high cost of living are pressing issues we face today. In Scotland, transport and travel expenses account for 15% of household spending, with rural households having to bear even higher costs. Additionally, domestic transport is the biggest contributor to net greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland.

19% of journeys in Scotland are under 1km. There are greener and cheaper options for those shorter, everyday journeys that are rich in other benefits too.

Tips and advice

Walking or wheeling (using a wheelchair) are great travel options and are also the most accessible. Walking costs nothing, whilst wheeling makes the benefits of active travel more accessible.

Small steps add up – choosing to walk or wheel just one mile to the shops and back once a week rather than drive will give you fuel savings of £19 a year. Carrying shopping bags home also has health benefits as it helps build strength, keeping muscles, bones and joints strong.

For tips on walking, why not check out these resources?  

Walking and wheeling are a free and accessible way to be physically active in your daily life. Here are some of the brilliant benefits: 

  • Improve your physical health - regular walking or wheeling reduces your chance of type 2 diabetes by 40%, cardiovascular disease by 35%, joint and back pain by 25%, and certain cancers by 20%.
  • Great for your mental health and wellbeing - walking and wheeling can contribute to improved sleep, help to manage stress and reduce your risk of depression by 30%.
  • Save money - walking or wheeling is free! Reducing car use by a quarter can save on average £295 a year in fuel costs.
  • Better for the environment – if you choose to walk or wheel just one mile a week instead of driving, you’ll save up to 30kg of carbon dioxide emissions a year. 
  • Contribute to your local community - replacing car journeys with walking or wheeling reduces harmful levels of air and noise pollution, as well as congestion.
  • Explore and get social - whether alone or as a group, being out and about in nature and your community can make active travel enjoyable and bring social benefits. You may even find a new favourite walk or wheel and make a friend!

Low Emission Zones (LEZs) are designated areas that restrict penalty-free access for the most polluting vehicles to reduce air pollution. Air quality is particularly poor in city centres due to high concentrations of road transport. Currently, the LEZs are operational in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, and Aberdeen.

Find out more about low emission zones in Scotland

Cycling is a healthy and efficient way to get all the benefits of travelling actively. If you need some extra assistance, why not go electric? The electric motor powered by a rechargeable battery can help you tackle longer or hillier journeys more easily than on a conventional bike.

The range of options including cargo and adapted cycles make cycling more accessible and popular than ever!

 Here are some of the benefits of cycling and ebikes, including cargo and adapted cycles:

  • Reducing travel costs- Cycling UK found that after initial purchase owning an average bike compared to an average car could save you £771 a year. On average, replacing a daily 5-mile commute by car with an ebike saves £215 in fuel costs annually.
  • Great for the planet - completing a 5-mile return journey by cycling could save up to 67kg in carbon dioxide emissions over a year. eBikes produce 80 times less carbon dioxide per mile than the average petrol or diesel car.
  • Efficient - especially in towns and cities, cycling can be quicker than driving. You're less affected by traffic and parking restrictions.
  • A diversity of options - you can choose from a range of models and assistance levels to suit your mobility and transport needs.

Handy cycling resources to explore

Electric Bikes

Electric bikes, or ebikes, are becoming increasingly popular. More and more people are choosing them as an affordable, healthy, low-carbon alternative to car journeys. 

Cycling tips and advice

Cycling UK's website has lots of cycling tips and advice.

Cycling for beginners

Sustrans' Cycling for beginners blog gives some tips for anyone new to, or wanting to get back into cycling.

Essential cycling skills

Cycling Scotland's Essential Cycling Skills e-learning tool can help you build confidence.

Local cycling groups

Explore local support - see if there are any local groups offering led rides, training or opportunities to try an ebike, cargo or adapted cycle.

Case study

Meet Sharafaldin who applied for the Low Emission Zone Support Fund and received a grant for disposing of his more polluting car. 

Read Sharafaldin's story
Sharafaldin's ebike