Transport and travel

Walking, cycling, or using some other form of physical activity for all or part of a journey, is good for population health and the environment.

Transport and travel


Active and sustainable travel describes all types of journeys which can be undertaken by active or physical means (walking, cycling, scootering, skating) in combination with public transport.

Transport systems that prioritise private motor vehicles (primarily cars) can have a number of harmful effects on population health. These can be direct effects such as cardiac and respiratory disease caused by exposure to pollution and injury or death from road traffic accidents. More indirect negative influences include  rates of physical inactivity, obesity and related health problems.

Busy roads, especially when combined with poor active travel links, can exert a negative influence on our experience of living in communities, such as reducing opportunity for social connections which can increase rates of loneliness and isolation. A further population health concern is the contribution vehicle carbon emissions make to climate change.

In contrast, a sustainable transport system prioritises low carbon transport choices and comprises multiple modes, including walking, cycling, public transport, and bike, wheeling, and car sharing. A sustainable transport system minimises negative social, environmental and climate impacts and relegates private car use to a minority rather than a majority of trips.

Our work looks at current trends in transport and travel and explores ways to increase the number of people that travel actively and sustainably. We outline strong health, social inclusion and environmental arguments for reducing car use and increasing sustainable travel.

Covid-19, and the accompanying travel and work restrictions, have had a dramatic effect on travel patterns. Longer-term impacts on travel and our transport systems are likely.  Through our work, we are trying to understand these changes and their implications as transport policy in Scotland focuses on making the shift to a more sustainable transport system.