Reap the health benefits of active travel

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Whether you are choosing to walk, wheel or cycle – active travel improves health and wellbeing, protects the environment and saves on transport costs.

In Sustrans’ 2022 Walking and Cycling Index, produced in partnership with 18 urban areas across the UK and Ireland, the results of walking, wheeling and cycling showed that in Glasgow alone, it:

  • Prevented more than 1,300 serious long-term health conditions
  • Saved 26,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions
  • Took up to 150,000 cars off the roads each day
  • Generated at least £438million in economic benefit for individuals and the region

These are hugely welcome results and underline why Sustrans has been an advocate of Scotland’s Low Emission Zones (LEZs) from the outset, because they represent another key step forward towards reducing emissions in city centres.

LEZs, which were introduced in the city centres of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow to help improve air quality by restricting access for the most polluting vehicles, should be seen as a complementary part of a national movement to reduce the number of private vehicles in town and city centres.

Scotland is facing numerous challenges in the fight against climate change, in particular the target of a 75% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. This makes prioritising the transformation of towns and city centres to promote active travel and public transport - an essential action.

To help encourage more active travel, a number of initiatives have been introduced. Sustrans’ Places for Everyone (PfE) fund is a multi-million pound infrastructure programme, backed by Transport Scotland, which supports walking, wheeling and cycling across Scotland.

Among major PfE projects underway in Scotland’s LEZ cities are Dundee’s Broughty Ferry Active Travel Improvements and Union Street projects as well as Edinburgh’s City Centre West to East Link and Glasgow’s South City Way

In Aberdeen, Sustrans is involved with several projects such as the Deeside Way which is a crucial part of our National Cycle Network and primarily a long distance leisure route.

Cargo bikes are also growing in popularity as a mode of active travel – for both everyday journeys and business deliveries. Specifically designed to carry heavy loads of typically up to 100kg as well as the rider, a cargo bike makes for a practical method of transport in LEZs and are therefore a great way to reduce trips made by car or van.

Riders on cargo bikes can also use cycling routes to avoid traffic – allowing them to take shortcuts and cut down on journey times – while like cycles and other forms of wheeling, they park their bike close to or at the destination point.

Generating a culture of active travel will not only bring all-important health benefits for the nation but make our cities safer, cleaner and more enjoyable to spend time by reducing emissions and easing congestion.

LEZs will be enforced for all vehicles on 1 June 2023 in Glasgow city centre, on 30 May 2024 for vehicles in Dundee city centre and on 1 June 2024 for vehicles in Aberdeen and Edinburgh city centres. Owners of a non-compliant vehicle who drive in a LEZ will receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).* Certain exemptions will apply – find out more about those here.

To check if your vehicle is compliant, visit

For more information on Scotland’s LEZs, visit

Further information about Sustrans can be found at