Economic benefits of active travel in Scotland

©2018, John Linton People on bikes and person crossing the road in Edinburgh

Getting around on foot or a bike isn’t just good for you, there can be major economic benefits too.

It might not be one of the first reasons why people choose to walk or cycle, but there is more and more evidence for the strong economic impact of active travel. This might be helping customers access shops and local businesses or it might be by savings to the NHS by helping people to live healthier, more active lives.

Places that have made it easier to walk and cycle have started to see the benefit in some obvious ways and some that you might not expect. Just a few of the key findings show active travel benefits retail, employment and health.


Cycle and walking-friendly high streets draw a variety of shoppers and visitors, support a wide range of businesses and increase retail vitality by as much as 30%


Building walking and cycling infrastructure creates and sustains jobs. 12.7 jobs are supported or sustained per £1 million spent on active travel, more than spending on roads.


Walking and cycling saves money on healthcare by improving people’s physical health and reducing conditions associated with inactivity. If people in the UK cycled as much as they do in Denmark, this could save the NHS £17 billion over 20 years.

The findings collated in our leaflet are just a few of the impacts and it is an area that is attracting more and more study as people and places start to realise the diverse ways walking and cycling contribute to better place locally and nationally.

We will be using the information to help make the case for making walking and cycling easier for everyone to do.

Download the leaflet for the facts and figures on why making it easier to walk and cycle is as good for our economy as it is for us