Chapter 7.2.3 Active Travel

Create an expanded cycling network

The Scottish Government must commit to the long-term development and creation of a cycle network throughout Scotland linking towns and cities, with denser networks in urban areas.

UK Govt
Scottish Govt
Local Authorities
Emissions reduction
Behaviour change

The fourth National Planning Framework has committed the Scottish Government to develop a National Walking, Cycling and Wheeling Network as a national development. This should build on and expand existing routes in the National Cycle Network and other high quality cycling infrastructure around Scotland. The Scottish Government’s commitments for high quality Active Freeways along major roads into cities and towns and linking towns must also be part of a full, coherent network and requires many times the current level of investment.

A national ‘blueprint’ for the cycling network is needed to plan and guide its phased development.

Cycling infrastructure is urgently needed to enable people to cycle, and investment has been proven to increase cycling rates and provide social, economic and environmental benefits.184 Furthermore, 75% of respondents to a survey in 2022 said that creating safe cycling infrastructure would motivate them to cycle more.185 Each city in Scotland should have a high quality and separated main cycle network to allow for safe daily commutes and reduce dependence on motor vehicles.186

This ‘framework’ or ‘skeleton’ of major cycle routes throughout Scotland must be linked in urban areas with a dense network of cycling infrastructure, including:

  • traffic-free routes including through green areas
  • cycle lanes separated from traffic
  • reconfigured roads and junctions to improve safety
  • 20mph zones and quiet routes in built up residential areas
  • School Streets and safe routes to school
  • paths shared with pedestrians in some circumstances
  • safe cycle parking and bike hangars in residential areas

The majority of funding for this network will come from the Scottish Government’s transport budget but funding can also come from local government. Local authorities should prioritise active travel infrastructure within other public realm and neighbourhood improvement projects to realise the benefits for communities and the local economy. Disabled people’s organisation need to be involved in co-designing changes to the urban landscape.

For further information:


Attitudes and Behaviours Towards Cycling in Scotland – Wave 4, Cycling Scotland, 2022, english/Cycling-Attitudes-and-Behaviours-Report-Wave-4-2022.pdf


Worse than Covid? How do cycle lanes really affect towns and cities?, Cycling UK, 2021, EbW0mnTgQiI?list=TLGGdEBf_65fYbkwNjA2MjAyMw

Version 1.0: September 2023

The contents of this document will be updated on a regular basis.