Figures released today show an increasing number of people in Scotland were walking to work and school in 2019. Campaigners say this shows there is a demand for safer pedestrian and cycling environments.

The Scottish Household Surveys which make up this annual report show a continuing year-on-year increase in car ownership and car use. It also shows how closely car ownership and car use is linked with wealth, with those on the lowest incomes more likely to take the bus or walk, and households earning more than £50,000 a year likely to own two or more cars.

Since Covid-19 restrictions began back in March 2020, there has been a huge increase in cycling, while car traffic has gradually risen back to the pre-pandemic levels. Transport is Scotland’s largest source of climate emissions and levels haven’t barely changed since 1990.

  • Over half of all journeys are made by driving a car or van (53%, up from 48% in 2012)
  •  Sixty-eight per cent of people usually travelled to work by car or van, either as a driver (63%) or passenger (5%)
  • 47.6% of journeys under 2 miles were made on foot (a 4.6% rise from 2018)
  • There were 366 million bus journeys made in Scotland in 2019, a decrease compared with 380 million in 2018 and 471 million in 2002.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Air Pollution Campaigner Gavin Thomson commented:

“As we plot a green recovery from covid-19 we must transition away from the fossil fuelled transport system that chokes our streets and our lungs. Dedicated investment in improving our public spaces and boosting walking and cycling can create new jobs and businesses, while reducing the climate emissions from our most polluting transport.

“The report also reveals that two thirds of households in Scotland don’t have access to a bike. The investment we need isn’t just in our public spaces and for a safe cycling network but is also about increasing access to bikes. Low-cost bike share schemes and subsidies for people on low incomes are essential to making our transport system fit for the 21st century.

“These statistics from last year show a transport system that doesn’t exist any longer, as so much has changed. They also show how much we need to build back better, that we need to concentrate our recovery from Covid-19 on reducing our emissions, and investing in sustainable transport rather than continuing to spend billions on motorways and trunk roads.”



‘Transport and Travel in Scotland 2019’ statistics were published today: https://www.transport.gov.scot/news/scots-walked-more-of-their-short-journeys-in-2019/

A report from the STUC showed that 18,000 jobs can be created in Scotland through investing in walking and cycling: http://www.stuc.org.uk/files/Scotland_Report.pdf

There has been a significant increase in cycling since Covid-19 restrictions began https://www.transport.gov.scot/publication/covid-19-transport-trend-data-10-16-august-2020/

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.