Review of current actions

This chapter considers the actions set out in a range of documents, beginning with the current Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (CAPS).

Cycling Action Plan for Scotland 2017-2020

There has been no review of progress in implementing CAPS 2017- 2020 to date, other than this report, which of course does not have the benefit of having spoken first hand to stakeholders nor of having reviewed any non-published material of relevance (unlike the Progress Report on the previous CAPS). Therefore the comments in this section are based only on a reading of the available documents.

In general CAPS covers the areas that international experience, and experience of cities in Britain with high levels of cycling, should cover if levels of cycling are to be increased. However, it does not have a clear set of objectives (rather it accepts the recommendations of a previous separate report as its implicit objectives). Without clear and prioritised objectives, it is sometimes difficult to see how and why the package of measures (the actions in the plan) has been developed. In addition, its actions often lack detail, timescales and responsibilities, and it is not clear how some of the most important elements are to be delivered. For example:

  • There is no clear timescale for a new version of Cycling by Design (although this is partly addressed in the Active Travel Task Force Delivery Plan (ATTFDP)).
  • It is not clear what form of support and encouragement local authorities will receive from Transport Scotland and others to develop and implement their Active Travel Strategies, nor what these Strategies should, as a minimum, contain.
  • Leadership is mentioned a number of times and the international experience shows that this is very important, but few specific actions are listed to develop either national or local leadership.
  • It is not clear what types of measures will be implemented, and by whom, to achieve the ultimate road safety goal of no deaths or serious injuries on Scotland’s roads, as set in the Road Safety Framework.
  • Other than reiterating the government’s commitment to maintain the current active travel budget, the document is quite silent on how to increase other sources of funding, particularly at the local authority level.
  • There is a need for a better analysis of the current barriers to delivery of, in particular, local infrastructure; and then a clear set of steps to reduce or eliminate these barriers, such as, for example: lack of staff capacity; lack of political or senior management leadership at the local level; land acquisition for schemes; TRO processes; or funding of the maintenance of new schemes. These points are to some extent dealt with in the ATTFDP but not in a systematic way.
  • Many activities listed to exemplify actions, whilst extremely valuable in themselves, appear piecemeal and/or small scale – for example, the possibility for disabled young people to try bikes is valuable but only if rolled out beyond one small pilot, and the document does not explain how this will happen.
  • A commitment to “Work collaboratively across all policy areas” would be more helpful if it is clear which policy areas and who has committed to lead that work in each policy area.

Key documents as specified in the brief

The actions in the key documents were assessed on a qualitative scale of 5 “very good” to 1 “lacking”. This judges the action rather than their implementation. Rather than assess each individual action, the actions were categorised using the four categories from CAPS and one further category, related to training and capacity building, which is significant in ensuring that there are sufficient staff available to deliver the new infrastructure and services required to raise cycling levels. The assessment rated the respective document’s actions in each category against a maximum score which, if achieved, would be likely to deliver the growth in cycling that is aspired to in CAPS, on a short to medium term timescale. Comments are provided to put these scores in context.

Table 3.1 - Assessment of categories of action in each key document
Document Leadership Infrastructure and safety Behaviour change and attitudes Funding Training and capacity building Notes
A Long-Term Vision for Active Travel in Scotland 5 5 5 5 5 An excellent vision for active travel in Scotland but lacking details on how the vision will be achieved.
Active Travel Taskforce Delivery Plan 2019 4 3 4 3 3 Many of the actions to implement recommendations lack clarity on responsibilities and timescale. Says little on funding beyond reiterating existing Transport Scotland funding. Weak on safety other than further roll out of 20mph zones. Only one action on training. Dominance of activity by TS, Sustrans and CS, whilst unclear as to how other actors will be encouraged/incentivised to join in - in particular, how will local authorities be incentivised to implement the AT strategies that they have been encouraged to develop.
Active Travel Taskforce Report, 2018 4 3 4 3 3 Recommendations are the same as above. Does not include actions to achieve recommendations - these are in the delivery plan. Some recommendations are vague or difficult to appreciate what they really mean (especially the final recommendation). Requires more actions on infrastructure and road safety if it is to be aligned with what the international evidence shows is important in increasing modal share for cycling.
Active Travel Framework draft 2019 2 5 4 3 3 The framework does not include actions but the indicators selected suggest that appropriate actions would be likely to flow from its adoption. Little on leadership or training and capacity building is only implied. Strong on infrastructure and safety and of course monitoring. Need to distinguish in spend indicator between national and local level spend.
Cycling Action Plan for Scotland 2017-2020 3 3 4 4 4 See more detailed analysis in following section of report, although many of the comments on the Active Travel Taskforce reports also apply to CAPS. In general, it is stronger on behaviour change and training, and on national level funding, than on leadership, local infrastructure and safety.

More detailed focus on CAPS and Active Travel Task Force Delivery Plan actions

A number of criteria were drawn up to help assess the actions in CAPS and the Active Travel Task Force Delivery Plan, as these are considered to be the documents that have most bearing on the delivery of cycling actions in the country (as will be seen from the review of other documents below, with the exception of the national planning documents, few contain actions that are critical individually for the achievement of cycling policy objectives, although all support what CAPS is trying to do). The criteria are as follows:

  • Summarise status of the actions – whether delivered, in delivery, not delivered or delivered more slowly than anticipated.
  • To what extent do the actions in the documents/plans relate to what the evidence shows is needed to boost cycling and walking.
  • Clarity of timescales for implementation/achievement of actions and commitments.
  • Funding for each action – is it identified, is it secured, or is there little detail on funding?
  • Is a clear path to implementation identified, with clear responsibilities for the delivery partners involved?

In Tables 3.2 and 3.3, below, the actions are assessed on a 5 (“strong”) to 1 (“weak”) scale for each of the five criteria. This scale is qualitative and ordinal, that is, a score of 5 does not indicate a performance that is 5 times better than a score of 1. It is used to give an assessment of the actions in relation to each other and in relation to the criteria. This facilitates a clear overview of the relative positions of the actions but should not be regarded as being completely precise – rather it is indicative.

Table 3.2 – assessment of recommendations and actions in Cycling Action Plan for Scotland 2017-2020
CAPS 2017-2020 Actions Status Relationship to evidence Timescale Funding Path to implementation Comments
1. Transport Scotland will hold an Annual Active Travel Summit hosted by the Minister for Transport. 5 3 5 5 5 It is unclear that this form of leadership is most critical in boosting cycling levels
2. Transport Scotland will review and update the Trunk Roads Cycling Initiative and consult on an update of Cycling by Design. 3 4 2 3 3 Appropriate guidance is very important but there is a lack of clear timescales on this action
3. Transport Scotland's Chief Executive will chair an Active Travel Task Force to tackle the practical barriers to the delivery of ambitious walking and cycling projects in Scotland. 5 3 5 5 5 It is unclear that this form of leadership is most critical in boosting cycling levels unless it results in major changes to national frameworks, traffic laws and standards that then reduce barriers to delivery of infrastructure and improvements in safety
4. Provide continued support to each local authority and Regional Transport Partnerships to develop/update their active travel plans/strategies. 1 4 1 1 1 This is extremely important but it is very unclear from CAPS as to how it will be achieved
Infrastructure, Integration and Road Safety
5. Continue to deliver and maintain high quality, local infrastructure to encourage people to choose active travel for short journeys [with focus on] improvements in urban areas. 3 5 1 2 2 This is extremely important in raising levels of active travel but it is unclear as to the quality of the infrastructure delivered and the proportion of new infrastructure that is in rural compared to urban areas, given that the biggest potential for increased cycling is likely to be in urban areas. National funding is available but there is no clear path to making more local funding available. It is known from Sustrans data that around two thirds of the NCN is not traffic-free, so in this sense does not meet the standard set in the Chapter 1 for high quality infrastructure.
6. Continue to grow and maintain the National Cycle Network (NCN) to provide a strategic network of longer distance cycling routes for leisure, recreation, tourism and functional trips. 4 4 3 4 3 Progress is better than for point 5 but the balance between rural and urban and segregated and not segregated is again important.
7. Continue to support the 3 levels of the UK national standard Bikeability Scotland cycle training programme. 4 4 4 4 4 It appears that this is being implemented comprehensively and is important for raising levels of cycling where there is also quality infrastructure available
8. Improve integration with public transport. 2 3 1 2 1 Appears piecemeal apart from the provision of bike parking at stations.
9. Encourage and support the implementation of 20 mph streets/zones in communities across Scotland to improve road safety and encourage walking and cycling for everyday journeys. 3 5 1 1 1 Extremely important but the path to comprehensive implementation, and funding of that implementation, is unclear.
Promotion and Behaviour Change
10. Continue to promote a national training programme on cycling design and best practice to planners, designers and engineers. 4 4 5 4 3 The programme is in place but it is less clear how those engineers who are less interested in active travel are exposed to this training.
11. Develop Active Travel Hubs across Scotland. 3 3 4 4 4 Funding is in place together with an implementation strategy but actual implementation appears somewhat slow and piecemeal.
12. Continue to support educational campaigns such as the 'Give Everyone Cycle Space' campaign aimed at all road users. 3 4 4 4 4 It is unclear as to which other campaigns will be supported and within what kind of strategic framework of key messages and key target groups for those messages.
13. Increase levels of access to bikes through projects that support inclusive cycling initiatives, such as community bike library schemes. 2 4 2 3 2 Given the low levels of access to bikes in Scotland this is important and the intention is correct but again this appears to be a rather piecemeal set of initiatives lacking a strategic framework.
14. Work collaboratively across all policy areas to promote cycling and increase participation for young people of all abilities. 1 3 1 1 1 This action is very vague.
15. Invest in and deliver a "Cycle Friendly" package of support for workplaces, campuses, communities and schools. 3 4 2 4 3 The evidence shows that this is important in raising levels of cycling where good infrastructure exists. This activity appears quite institutionalised, widespread and set in a strategic framework.
16. Continue to support the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places Programme. 4 2 4 5 4 Because of the nature of the programme where organisations bid in with ideas on how to spend the money, it is unclear how this programme contributes in a consistent way to raising levels of active travel across Scotland. It is unclear whether it focuses on those factors which are known to be most important if active travel levels are to increase.
17. Maintain record levels of funding for active travel for the term of this Parliament. Cycling Action Plan for Scotland. 5 5 5 3 3 National level funding increases are impressive although the totals are still a small proportion of the rail and trunk road budgets. The funding issue may be more problematic at the regional and local level, yet the review of international evidence suggests that it is at these levels that most changes to infrastructure need to be brought about.
Monitoring and Reporting
18. Agree with the CAPS Delivery Forum members a suite of national indicators to inform the national picture of cycling participation, and report annually. 2 3 2 2 2 It is not clear what progress has been made on this action, nor who is responsible for its implementation.
19. Encourage and support all 7 Scottish cities to develop and publish a Bike Life report by the end of 2018. 2 1 5 4 2 This action is relatively marginal in relation to the factors known to be important in raising levels of cycling.
Average scores 3.11 3.58 3.00 3.21 2.79 n/a


Table 3.3 – assessment of recommendations and actions in Active Travel Task Force Delivery Plan (ATTFDP)
ATTF Delivery Plan recommendations/actions Status Relationship to evidence Timescale Funding Path to implementation Comments
1. Infrastructure
1.1 Criteria for funding for walking, cycling and place-making projects must include the delivery of infrastructure combined with appropriate behaviour change programmes 4 4 3 4 3 Agreed. Unclear however how the long term actions relate to the recommendation. Also unclear as to whether this means that projects that do not include either infrastructure or behaviour change will automatically not be funded.
1.2 Cross-portfolio policy investment should prioritise the delivery of a network of continuous and safe walking and cycling infrastructure 2 3 2 2 2 It should, but the action gives few clear mechanisms for the delivery of this action; most are to be driven by Transport Scotland and few other actors are named. Rather than a Transport Scotland lead, this may better be driven by a Cabinet Secretary with cross-portfolio responsibilities. It is critical that "Local authorities will develop long term costed transport strategies/plans identifying "pipeline projects" but the mechanism to deliver this is very unclear.
1.3 Formally approved, overarching [walking and cycling] design guidance for Scotland should be produced. 3 5 5 5 3 It is concerning that Roads for All is not mentioned. In addition, it is not clear whether the new design guidance would supersede other guidance that is more relied upon by traffic engineers such as the DfT's Traffic Advisory Leaflets, Local Transport Notes and Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, or will conflict with it. A process needs to be included in the action to deal with such conflicts otherwise implementation will continue to be slow. Separate guidance for trunk roads and local urban roads must be produced. The guidance should reflect the requirement of the Equality Act to build reasonable adjustments into new schemes and maintenance schemes. The action should include a programme of training for traffic engineers in the use of the new guidance and its relationship to existing guidance that they use (LTNs, TALs, DMRB more than Designing Streets).
1.4 Funding for long term maintenance for active travel projects should be included as part of Community Links/PLUS projects. 3 4 4 5 3 Agreed. Action is unclear as to when this option will be introduced since there is only a commitment to develop options for including maintenance costs as match funding, not to implement one or more of these options. Purpose and nature of long term post 2020 action is unclear.
2. Policies, processes and resources
2.1 Increased, continuous, multi-year funding and resources, is required, along with simplifying the current bidding processes and conditions. 2 5 4 3 3 Funding at the national level has increased and Sustrans have simplified funding streams. There is no commitment in this action to increase funding further, however. The action undertakes to keep current funding mechanisms under review, but the criteria for this review are unclear and therefore it is unclear as to under which circumstances a review would lead to change in levels of funding and/or funding mechanisms. It is critical that "Local authorities will develop long term costed transport strategies/plans identifying "pipeline projects" but the mechanism to deliver this is very unclear.
2.2 The match funding criteria should be reconsidered and more organisations able to bid. 3 5 3 2 2 As above
2.3 The collective impact of active travel strategies/ plans and related policies should be measured, and monitored longitudinally. 4 3 5 5 5 Well-coordinated action that will support delivery of higher levels of cycling but that will not in itself deliver change.
2.4 National, regional and local ownership and planning and delivery of active travel projects... must be more coordinated. 3 5 2 2 2 Ownership and coordination across portfolios at national level might come better from a Cabinet Secretary than from Transport Scotland. It is not clear how ownership will really be delivered at local levels. No commitment to increase resourcing at regional level.
2.5 There must be prominent and consistent national government and stakeholder support to enhance strong leadership at the local level. 2 5 2 3 1 This action is heavily focused on the Active Nation Commissioner with some actions for Transport Scotland. There is little clear link between these activities and development of leadership at the local level.
2.6 Professional training in community engagement and consultation and planning, delivering and maintaining active travel projects should be made available. 2 5 2 3 1 Heavy focus on training for community engagement, with much less focus on planning, delivering and maintaining projects. No mechanism for ensuring that engineers involved in street design must undertake training.
2.7 A policy of reducing urban traffic and transferring carriageway space to active travel should be considered. 2 5 1 1 1 This action is absolutely critical if in urban areas space is to be found to provide high quality cycling facilities without encroaching on already often substandard walking facilities. The primary arena for this action is on local roads in urban areas but there are almost no actions here for local authorities, or to assist them in understanding how to bring about reallocation of roadspace and encouraging them to do this. Examples might include training on how well traffic models predict the impacts of roadspace reallocation; on economic impacts of roadspace reallocation away from moving and parked motor vehicles; and on the politics of roadspace reallocation. Whilst the medium term action undertakes to review the TRO and Redetermination Order processes, there is no action or timescale related to modifying them if they are found to be major barriers - although the ATTF Report already provided considerable evidence that they are indeed major barriers to delivery.
2.8 The National Transport Strategy Review must deliver the sustainable travel hierarchy (STH), prioritising walking and cycling. Active travel should be main-streamed into Regional and Local Transport Strategies. 3 5 2 2 2 At national level, NTS 2019 Consultation Draft commits to use of STH in project appraisal. "Proof of pudding" will though be in how this is used in STPR. There is no mechanism in the action to mainstream active travel into RTS and LTS and no commitment to update the guidance on each which was produced in 2006 and 2005 respectively, well before active travel took on its current high profile.
2.9 The Strategic Transport Project Review should include Active Travel as a theme for nationwide projects. 2 4 3 2 2 See above. There is no commitment in the ATTFDP action to actually deliver any active travel projects within the STPR, but rather to include them in appraisals and to "look to include them" in future infrastructure reviews.
3. Community engagement
3.1 The active travel message should be promoted clearly to the general public and politicians. 3 3 3 4 3 Primarily mechanisms for national level promotion. Could be more consideration of how local authorities can be incentivised to promote the same message at a local level.
3.2 Delivery partners must ensure they conduct strong public consultation exercises and community engagement from the start. 3 3 4 3 3 The actions are laudable but the key issue is how to ensure that they are adopted at local level. This is not well defined in the series of actions.
4. Behaviour change and culture
4.1 There must be investment in behaviour change programmes for the longer term, in order to normalise walking and cycling for everyday journeys. 3 4 3 3 3 Many previous comments related to campaigns and promotion apply here. Again local level adoption/implementation is missing.
4.2 All spheres of governance, led by the Scottish Government, must ensure the benefits of active travel are widely promoted. 3 4 3 3 3 As above.
4.3 Fairer Scotland Duty - transport poverty, access to bikes. - - - - - It is not clear what this action means.
Average scores 2.82 4.12 2.88 3.00 2.49 n/a

Conclusions from analysis in tables above

The analysis of the actions in CAPS and the ATTFDP points to some real achievements but also some areas in need of further work. Both documents’ actions coincide with what the literature tells us is required to increase levels of cycling. In general, funding is available, certainly at the national level and for actions not requiring match funding. However, the status of the actions in terms of whether they have been or are being implemented is less clear. Related to this there are also relatively fewer actions with a clear timescale or clear path to implementation – in several actions, it is not clear which organisations will implement the action, or the way in which various partners will be coordinated to deliver the action is not clear.

CAPS actions 2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 13, 14, 18 and 19 score 15 or below out of a possible 25. These actions are related to the following areas:

  • Local infrastructure provision, including 20mph zones.
  • Development and implementation of active travel strategies.
  • Initiatives to increase access to bikes.
  • Integration with public transport.

The corresponding lower scoring ATTFDP actions relate to:

  • Delivery of high quality infrastructure.
  • Match funding.
  • Active travel strategies.
  • Roadspace reallocation and traffic reduction.
  • The National Transport Strategy and Strategic Transport Projects Review 2.

It is clear that there are some similarities in the criteria that are lower scoring, and in those actions that are lower scoring. These will be discussed in the concluding chapter.

Review of actions in other national documents

In this section, other national level documents are discussed. All the documents listed in Chapter 1 were reviewed but they are discussed here only if their actions were particularly relevant to the brief, so not all documents will be found in this section.

Infrastructure Investment Plan

The transport investments listed in this plan are major road and rail schemes that cut journey times and increase travel speeds. By so doing, they increase travel distances and contribute therefore to less dense development and more car dependent lifestyles (even those people who move out from cities but commute into work by train are more car dependent in the rest of their life). The schemes are predominantly interurban and rural, thus doing little directly for travel within urban areas unless accompanied by capacity reductions within those urban areas at the same time as capacity increases are provided in suburban and rural areas (for example if the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route were accompanied by the closure of Union St in Aberdeen this could enhance the environment for active travel within the city considerably; but if not, the addition of road capacity overall will work against active travel goals by making car travel faster and more convenient). The financial resources of these investments dwarf the national active travel budget.

The Town Centre Action Plan element of the infrastructure investment plan is something that could indirectly aid active travel by attracting more people to live and visit town centres, but in comparison to the major transport schemes it is rather under-resourced (for example, in 2015, £4m for Town Centre Empty Homes fund). Investment in digital infrastructure as something that could support less travel intensive lifestyles is welcome. Overall, though, the investments in this plan will encourage people to travel by modes other than active travel – by making those modes relatively more attractive – and will support dispersed land use which is not supportive of active travel.

National Transport Strategy Consultation Draft

As noted earlier, the emphasis on the Sustainable Travel Hierarchy in this document is welcome as a means of increasing the priority placed on active travel schemes and activities in national transport policy and projects. Statements in the draft NTS such as “Scotland’s transport system will be designed with sufficient walking and cycling options to help us become a healthier nation and tackle medical problems caused by poor levels of activity” are also helpful. However, the NTS Consultation Draft lacks any proposed infrastructure actions at all and therefore it is difficult to assess its potential impact any further. At a national level the STPR is critical as a statement of the actual projects that Transport Scotland plans to implement, but it is not yet available. The NTS does make some statements on governance and depending on the changes that ultimately come about in transport governance in Scotland, it may be that new larger organisations will have greater capacity for delivery of cycling and walking schemes and programmes than current local authorities. However, at present this remains an unknown and it cannot be automatically assumed that changed governance arrangements will simplify delivery – whether they do is critically dependent on the allocation of responsibilities, competencies and funding, and lines of accountability, within any new structure.

National Planning Framework

This document is very important for setting the land use development framework for Scotland; as explained in Chapter 2, denser settlements of short distances will have higher levels of active travel than low density settlements with longer distances between activities. Therefore it has the potential to be very supportive of CAPS and other active travel policies. There are positive statements regarding placemaking and role of active travel particularly in town and city centres. In relation to new development and keeping distances short (as evidence shows is key to high active travel mode share), document is, however, somewhat inconsistent in its message – for example here in Para 2.20:

Further increasing the density of development, particularly in the centre of towns and cities and in key locations which are well-served by public transport, could accommodate much of this growth. However, more ambitious and imaginative planning will be needed to meet requirements for a generous and effective supply of land for housing in a sustainable way. Planning can ensure it enhances quality of life through good placemaking, and lead a move towards new, lower carbon models of urban living.

In general this inconsistency is seen in the discussion of development in the different regions. Regeneration of existing brownfield land (Edinburgh Waterfront, Ravenscraig) is a priority, but so are major road projects to facilitate development of greenfield suburban land which will increase travel distances and make active travel less attractive. The document is good about planning new developments to make them active travel friendly, but this is in conflict with the equal emphasis given to greenfield development and major transport infrastructure which risks locating such developments in places where because of the distance from the nearest centre, the only viable travel option will be the car.

Given a choice between developing greenfield and brownfield land, many developers will prefer the former given that it is more likely to be closer to a high speed road and development costs are lower because there is no need to decontaminate land before building. There is nothing in the NPF to say how the public sector might influence or regulate this choice – for example nothing to say that there will be a presumption in favour of brownfield development for housing over greenfield.

On the other hand, there are other supportive statements in the document:

Para 4.15: “We need to plan now for the kind of change to urban environments which is needed to support the vision in the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (CAPS), and the National Walking Strategy, for example by rolling out 20mph zones to more residential and shopping streets and further application of the principles set out in Designing Streets.”

Para 5.14: “As a key part of the low carbon agenda, we will encourage local authorities to develop at least one exemplar walking-and cycling-friendly settlement to demonstrate how active travel networks can be significantly improved in line with meeting our vision for increased cycling. These settlements, as well as wider core path networks, will act as key nodes on the national walking and cycling network.”

Overall there is something of a disconnect in the document: it is strong on trying to use the planning system to create active travel friendly environments in new developments, but much less strong on locating those developments in places where active travel will be the natural choice for most journeys.

National Walking Strategy

Much of this strategy is about core paths, placemaking policy and the promotion of walking, not about improving the existing street environment for walking, installing more crossings to make it easier to get across roads (over 70% of urban pedestrian KSI occur away from a formal crossing), and improving road safety. It does not include the phrases “crossing” or “road safety” anywhere, whilst the word “pavement” is mentioned only three times, and as delivery organisations local roads authorities are rarely mentioned in spite of their statutory responsibility for the local road network and as statutory planning authorities. Instead in many cases the “Delivery Lead” for most actions is a non-statutory organisation, often an NGO. It is hard to see therefore how this Strategy will result in a significantly enhanced environment for walking on the local road network which is where the vast majority of walking trips take place.

Preventing Overweight and Obesity In Scotland – a Route Map Towards Healthy Weight (2010)

This document is strong on the need for active travel and for the creation of environments (including retrofitting of existing environments) that support active travel. However, implementation paths, responsibilities and timescales are very unclear and the role of local authorities is understated, with much responsibility - where it is highlighted - given to national government to change local environments through guidance and funding incentives. Thus, whilst the document is supportive in policy terms of active travel, it is not clear how it can deliver the changes that it says are necessary in our travel environments. However, it does not conflict with CAPS or related transport documents.

Scotland’s Accessible Travel Framework 2016

This document is about making the transport system more accessible to people with disabilities. Its main focus is however the public transport system. It makes no mention of the duty under the Equality Act 2010 for roads authorities to make reasonable adjustments to the road (and therefore footway) network to make it accessible, nor on a need for more guidance and training for roads authorities and especially their maintenance engineers on improving the accessibility of the footway and crossing network. It has very little focus on the road network and on roads authorities at all, in spite of the key importance of this network in providing mobility for disabled people making walking journeys in their entirety, or walking trips as part of longer trips by car or public transport. It therefore does little for active travel but is mentioned here because it is a missed opportunity.

ScotRail Cycle Innovation Plan

The actions set out in this document are concrete and specific, with timescales and funding, and they do promise a very significant increase in the supply of bike parking at stations, together with some additional cycle hire at stations. Cycle security at stations and cycle carriage on trains are also tackled. In this sense the document does add some very specific actions to help achieve CAPS’ aspiration for better cycling-public transport integration. The significant gap in the document is dealing with the quality of links to stations; there is an ambition to “work with partners” to secure funding from CLP to improve these, but no specific plans or stations that this work should be targeted at. Both for pedestrians and cyclists the quality of the walking and cycling infrastructure to and around stations must be enhanced if more people are to be attracted to the train/bike combination.

Scottish Planning Policy

This document makes some potentially powerful policy statements that if interpreted in a very direct way could be extremely supportive of CAPS’ goals. It seeks to create higher density urbanised built environments of shorter distances with a street pattern and facilities that together should all support and increase the use of active travel. There are however some challenges in achieving this through the planning system.

The first is that there is no quantification or very specific definition of many of the terms in the document so that it is difficult for both local authorities and developers to know whether or not their proposed plans and developments satisfy the conditions set out in Scottish Planning Policy. For example, the following is a potentially powerful paragraph:

Para 287. Planning permission should not be granted for significant travel-generating uses at locations which would increase reliance on the car and where:

  • direct links to local facilities via walking and cycling networks are not available or cannot be made available;
  • access to local facilities via public transport networks would involve walking more than 400m;


  • the transport assessment does not identify satisfactory ways of meeting sustainable transport requirements.

However, in order to effectively operationalise this then both local authority and developer need to know how to measure reliance on the car; the specific meaning of “direct link”; and the specific meaning of “satisfactory ways”, otherwise these will be interpreted in different ways by different authorities and developers producing in practice environments that are not conducive to active travel. An example of how such an element could be quantified is using a travel time ratio, where a location becomes unacceptable for development where the travel time by cycling and public transport exceeds the travel time by car by a particular ratio, for example 2 to 1. Without such quantification, policies such as that in Para 287 of Scottish Planning Policy risk losing their effectiveness.

A second challenge is that for the SPP’s policies on development that is supportive of active travel to be effective, then both developers and planning authorities need to know that proposed developments that conflict with these policies will indeed be called in and that the risk of not getting planning permission is significant for a proposal that is in conflict; and that the same is true of local plans that propose locations for and densities of development that are not consistent with this policy.

Conclusion to this section

This section has reviewed certain national documents that were found to be of particular relevance to the brief (although all documents listed in Chapter 1 were reviewed). The key findings from these documents were:

  • Almost all were supportive in principle at least of active travel. However, some such as the Routemap Towards Healthy Weight (2010), lack clear paths to implementation.
  • The Infrastructure Investment Plan emphasises major road and rail schemes that will lead to lower density more dispersed land use and make car travel more attractive, risking undermining the aims of active travel policies.
  • The Consultation Draft National Transport Strategy is supportive of active travel but contains no hint of actual projects that will be implemented so it is difficult to assess its potential impact.
  • The land use planning documents are very supportive of active travel and could contribute significantly to creating environments that facilitate more active travel, but this depends crucially on how (well) their policies are implemented. The National Planning Framework may permit development in locations that will encourage more car-based lifestyles in dispersed settlements far from urban centres.

Review of actions in local and regional strategies

For this report, Sustrans Scotland reviewed all current local authority active travel strategies, and all current regional active travel strategies, to obtain their objectives, targets and actions on active travel. The full results are presented in Appendix 1, but a summary is provided here.

Some 18 local authorities have current active travel strategies whilst the three HiTRANS local authorities refer to that organisation’s active travel strategy, so in total 21 out of 32 Scottish local authorities have a current strategy. Three RTPs, HiTRANS, NESTRANS and TACTRAN have a strategy also.

All except Stirling and East Renfrewshire’s documents include a clear objective, which is generally to increase rates of active travel by creating supportive environments. In the majority of cases this is backed up by targets, in some cases measurable, for increases in modal share for cycling and sometimes walking. It is less typical for these documents to include any objectives, targets or actions relating directly to road safety for vulnerable road users, however – only 9 local and one regional strategy do so. Most however express intentions to roll out further 20 mph zones.

Almost all local active travel strategies set out aspirations for a network of safe, often segregated cycle routes either within and/or between their major settlements. This is in some cases to be based on audits of routes and existing facilities, and around half of the strategies include a network map. However, work on developing the network was not very advanced at the time of writing for the majority of strategies. This can be inferred from the fact that few of the active travel strategies contain costs for their planned networks. It may of course be that since the publication of the strategy further work has been undertaken to develop these networks but at the time of writing only four local and no regional strategies contained capital cost estimates for their planned networks, totalling about £217 million in cash terms over a number of years. These four councils cover about 25% of the Scottish population so a simple extrapolation suggests that delivering the networks aspired to by all Scottish local authorities could cost close to £1 billion, although this is likely to be influenced by the nature of the networks and balance between rural and urban routes. However, without doubt this is an issue worthy of much more investigation – there is a need to have a more accurate understanding of what total level of investment is required, over what period (given the staff resources available to design new schemes), to bring about an order of magnitude change in the availability of high quality safe cycling infrastructure in Scotland.