Walking research

Active forms of travel, including walking and cycling, are not only important to health for their contribution to increasing physical activity, but also to help address obesity, improve mental health, tackle climate change, reduce air pollution, and can help build more connected communities. Active travel is an intrinsic part of a sustainable transport system, one that prioritises low carbon transport choices and comprises multiple modes, including walking, cycling, public transport, and bike, wheeling, and car sharing.

In September 2022, we published Getting Scotland Walking with Living Streets. The publication summarises walking trends in Scotland, the health and societal benefits of walking, relevant policy, issues which discourage walking and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on walking. The report also offers recommendations on how to increase walking levels in Scotland and highlights areas where further research, data and evidence are needed.

In 2017 we published an analysis of active travel to school in Glasgow, which highlights trends in walking and cycling among primary and secondary pupils in schools across the city.  

Earlier in 2015, we published a study which explored the views of users of the Kelvingrove-Anderston cycling and walking route in Glasgow. The route, now renamed the West City Way, connects Kelvingrove Park (in the west of Glasgow) to the city centre. Download a report from the report’s launch event.  

In 2015, we completed a detailed study of cyclist and pedestrian road casualty trends in Scotland. The study used road traffic injury data collected through police reports and from hospital admission data to gain a better understanding of trends in pedestrian and cyclist road casualties in Scotland.   

Briefing papers

We have previously published a range of relevant briefing papers which are available to download below: 

Briefing Paper Findings Series 37 - Learning from success: active travel in schools 

Briefing Paper Findings Series 29 - Children’s travel to school – are we moving in the right direction?

Briefing Paper Findings Series 28 - Are trends in adult active travel moving in the right direction? 

Briefing Paper Findings Series 26 - Moving in the right direction? Findings from a review of transport policy in Scotland

Briefing Paper Findings Series 22 - Attitudes toward active travel in Glasgow: Findings from a qualitative research project  

Seminar presentations with a focus on walking

Reflections on our learning: transport, active travel and inequalities - Jill Muirie (Active travel seminar, 2017)

Walking is the good news story for physical activity and health - Prof Nanette Mutrie - (Active travel seminar, 2016)

What have we learned? A synthesis of GCPH's work on active travel – Jill Muirie (Active travel seminar, 2016) 

Active travel in an urban Scottish context - Bruce Whyte (Healthier Futures Forum, 2015)

'Are we moving in the right direction? Findings from data analyses and policy review' - Fiona Crawford and Bruce Whyte (Active travel seminar, 2010)

School Travel Trends - Bruce Whyte and Mark Livingston (Active travel seminar, 2009)  

Further information and data

The transport section of the Understanding Glasgow website provides details of walking trends in Glasgow, in Scottish cities, within Glasgow and Clyde Valley, by Glasgow neighbourhood, by deprivation decile.  The children and young people’s profiles for Glasgow neighbourhoods include an indicator of the percentage of children walking to primary school.