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Sustrans Scotland’s thirteen asks to create better places, improve our health and protect the planet

This opinion piece is almost 2 years old

Charity makes call to council candidates

At this year’s local council elections, Sustrans Scotland is calling on parties and candidates to show the leadership needed to transform communities for the better and for everyone.

Sustrans Scotland has thirteen asks to create better places, improve our health and protect the planet.

This is the time, this is the place. Good walking, wheeling, cycling and public transport makes a massive difference to our lives, and to the places where we live, work and spend time.

Councils have responsibility for most of our roads, footways, public spaces and bus routes.

As such, they make crucial choices, both daily and strategically, about our environment and our transport systems.

At this year’s council elections, parties and candidates have the opportunity to show the leadership needed to transform communities for the better.

To make better communities that are designed for everyone, they should:

  • Improve people’s health, happiness and well-being by making it easier for us to be active during our everyday journeys.
  • Tackle climate change and decrease noise and air pollution. Reducing our stubbornly high transport emissions by supporting people to make the switch to walking, wheeling and cycling for shorter journeys, and to buses and trains for longer ones.
  • Choose a more sustainable recovery from the pandemic. Making our town centres well-connected, attractive places to run businesses. Places where people come first, not cars.
  • Make transport more equitable. Recognise that many households can’t afford or don’t have access to a car and need better options to travel by bus, cycle, mobility aid and on foot.

This is the time for local government to act.

To create better places, improve our health and protect the planet.

Our places should put people first

1. Councils should use the principles of 20-minute neighbourhoods to maintain localised public services. Everyone should live within a 20 minute return walk and wheel of schools, shops, community centres and quality green space.

2. All footways should be easy to navigate, particularly for vulnerable users. In particular, councils should deliver the pavement parking ban.

3. All major developments and council projects should implement planning policy that designs streets for people, not just vehicles. New developments should also link to established urban spaces, be permeable and be close to key services. This will require political leadership from elected councillors and resources for planning officers.

4. Councils should work with communities to transform their streets. This should include support for community-led projects and high quality engagement at every stage.

Everyone should have the choice to confidently and safely leave their home on foot, by wheeling and by bike

5. All towns and cities in Scotland should have a high quality, protected cycle network that allows safe everyday journeys.

6. Councils should introduce measures to reduce vehicle speeds on residential streets and rural B and C roads. Making them safe to cross and comfortable to walk, wheel and cycle on.

Children and young people should feel safe when they walk, wheel and cycle to school

7. All key routes to schools should give priority to pupils who are walking, wheeling and cycling. This includes safe, convenient crossing points and dedicated space for cycling.

8. Many schools face issues of road safety, congestion and poor air quality at the school gates. Councils should roll out ‘school streets’ to restrict car access at the start and end of the school day.

People in rural communities should have the option to access services without needing a car

9. Local path networks should connect all rural communities to key local services. This includes schools, post offices, pharmacies and bus stops.

10. Rural communities should be easy to walk, wheel and cycle through and they should be well-served by public transport to towns and transport hubs. This would help transform the economies, health and sustainability of Scotland’s rural areas.

A fair share of funding for walking, wheeling and cycling

11. Councils must prepare for increased Holyrood funding for active travel. Planning, transport and roads teams need to be equipped to commission, design, deliver and maintain great places, streets and roads for people.

12. At least 10% of council transport budgets should be spent on walking, wheeling and cycling, and on public spaces that prioritise people. This should include revenue spending on maintenance.

13. Councils should use workplace parking levies and other measures to encourage people out of their cars, and to increase funding for sustainable transport. Reducing our car use is essential to meeting our net zero goals and reducing air pollution.

Claire Daly is Sustrans Scotland’s head of policy and communications.



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almost 2 years ago

Maybe if we spent less on cycling lanes and more on combating child poverty we'd be a better country.

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