Published: 18th MAY 2022

Scotland’s biggest ever survey of walking and cycling in our cities shows need for more active travel investment

The biggest ever assessment of walking, wheeling and cycling in cities and towns across the country has shown that most people in Scotland (55%) would like to see more government spending on walking, wheeling, and cycling.

Young child cycling as her dad walks alongside her through a park

Photo: Brian Sweeney

The Walking and Cycling Index is our new, biggest ever survey of walking, wheeling and cycling in urban areas across the UK and Ireland.

It's the new name for 'Bike Life' - our assessment of cycling.

Surveying active travel in seven cities in Scotland

The study found that people walk or wheel more frequently than any other mode of urban transport.

58% of people in Scotland walk at least five days a week.

The survey results come from Scotland’s seven cities: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Inverness, Aberdeen, Dundee, and Perth, the largest number of Scottish cities ever featured in this study.

9,681 people in Scotland were surveyed.

A gender divide

The results also show that 21% of people in Scotland cycle at least once a week.

However, the results reveal a gender divide.

Men are more than twice as likely (29%) than women (13%) to cycle at least once a week, while fewer women think cycling safety is good (39%) compared to men (45%).

Banning pavement parking

Banning pavement parking would help 68% of all residents to walk or wheel more, while 70% of residents think wider pavements would encourage them to do so.

Results also show that 64% of people in Scotland would like more government investment in public transport.

People want more 20-minute neighbourhoods

This is the first time that data has been released on walking and wheeling, as well as cycling.

This assessment includes information on behaviours, attitudes, data on infrastructure and walkability and the benefits of walking and wheeling for residents and their city or region.

A total of 79% of people support the creation of more 20-minute neighbourhoods where amenities and services, such as shops, green space and GPs are located within a twenty-minute return walk or wheel of where they live.

However, the research found that 42% of households are not within this distance of a GP.

The people of Scotland want the option to walk, wheel and cycle

Stewart Carruth, Interim Director, Sustrans Scotland, said:

"I’d like to thank the 9,681 people in Scotland who gave us their time to take part in this assessment.

"Walking and wheeling should be the most accessible and desirable form of transport.

"It’s of huge importance to people, especially during the current cost of living crisis and the climate emergency.

"The evidence is clear – the people of Scotland want the option to walk, wheel and cycle to where they need to get to.

"They want to travel in environmentally friendly ways and don’t want outdated and unmaintained pavements, crossing points that make walking and wheeling unsafe or inaccessible, and vehicles parked on pavements getting in their way."

We must prioritise walking, wheeling, and cycling

Stewart added:

“People also want to see more government spending on walking, wheeling, and cycling.

"We must ensure that everyone feels safe cycling around their cities and urban areas, and we will continue working with local authorities to improve cycling and walking infrastructure for everyone.

"I hope these survey results will help local decision-makers ensure walking, wheeling, and cycling are prioritised in each area of Scotland."

About the Walking and Cycling Index

In total, data was captured from 18 cities.

More than 24,000 people were surveyed in areas of Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, representative of a total population of over 13 million people.


Read the Walking and Cycling Index and download the individual city reports.

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