Greener Travel

Active travel

The day-to-day travel decisions you make can have a real impact on making Scotland a cleaner, greener place to live – and they could also help you to be fitter, healthier, happier and wealthier.

If it’s not far, leave the car, and choose active travel options like cycling or walking instead. Walking is one of the best ways to clear your head and reduce stress.  Whether you are planning your thoughts for the day ahead or walking away the stresses of the day – active travel has many benefits.


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Walking is a great, green way to get from A to B – each step is a move towards a cleaner, healthier Scotland. Walking costs nothing, it’s good for your health and you don’t need any special gear to get started. A short journey by foot can be surprisingly quick – and you'll feel the physical benefits whilst doing your bit to help the environment. So, if it’s not far, leave the car. Walking is also a great way to help you towards at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week.

Even if you’re in a hurry, walking can often be quicker than navigating busy roads in a car and then finding a parking place. You won’t need change for the meter either.

Benefits of walking

  • Save money – cut down on fuel and fares
  • Keep fit – being active every day can have the greatest health benefits
  • Unwind – walking is one of the best ways to relieve stress
  • Reduce emissions – walking is a great, green way to get from A to B

Make walking part of your routine

Try switching to walking for some of those shorter journeys and everyday errands you’d usually do by car. Get the kids walking to school with you if you live close by. If you can walk to work you’ll find space and time in your day to think, listen to music and relax. Even popping to the local shops is easier when you don’t have to find a place to park first. You could well be surprised by how quickly you can get where you need to go.

Plan your walk

With a little forward planning, most short journeys are easily walkable. The best route might be quite different to the one you normally drive.

Take life on

Find out more about getting active at the Take Life On website.

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Pedal your way to a better quality of life – and a better level of fitness. If it’s not far, leave the car. Cycling shorter journeys instead can keep you healthy, get you where you need to go faster and help to keep Scotland cleaner and greener. Read about the goals of the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland.

Find out how Velocity in Inverness is helping people get on their bikes:

View more of our Climate Challenge Fund videos.

More cycle lanes, off-road paths and advanced stop boxes at junctions mean cycling in town is easier than ever. The National Cycle Network has thousands of miles of dedicated cycling routes – and 75% of us live within two miles of a route. Getting kitted out is a one-off expense, and you could save on travel costs for years.

Benefits of cycling

  • Work out and feel better – you can turn your regular commute into a workout by trying to improve your speed and stamina, and make time in your life for other things knowing you’ve had plenty of exercise
  • Save money – even a new bike needn’t cost much and it will help you to spend less on fuel and fares. Check whether your work offers a tax-free Cycle to Work scheme to help with the costs of buying a bike
  • De-stress – exercise is a great way to wind down, and cycling along dedicated cycle paths and routes can be a great stress reliever
  • Reduce emissions – cycling is a great, green way to get from A to B

The whole family could feel better by getting on their bikes. For the kids, find out about Bikeability Scotland training. Many schools teach cycling proficiency through this scheme. Some even team up with local bike shops offering discounts, so you can get the children kitted out for less. 

Mile for mile, it’s shorter car journeys like the school run that are most damaging to the environment. With a little research, the kids could be pedalling their way to classes safely, quickly and cheaply. 

Getting started with cycling

If you’re thinking about starting cycling you can find second-hand bikes online. Check out Freecycle too – sometimes you can even pick up some wheels for free. There are also some charities that refurbish older bikes for new cyclists – do an Internet search for 'recycled bikes' in your area. Weigh up any initial cost against how much you will save by leaving the car. 

You might be nervous about getting on a bike for the first time or have concerns about road safety. There are lots of places where you can find advice, resources and support on cycling proficiency, quiet routes and the rules of the road. Find out all about cycling in Scotland at Cycling Scotland or begin with these expert tips on Starting out on a new bike. A little forward planning can give you confidence and cut your journey time. 

You may also be able to get help from your work to buy a bike under the Cycle to Work scheme. The scheme lets you buy your bike tax-free, which can cut the cost by 40%.

What you need

  • Bike – it needn’t be expensive to start cycling if you find a second-hand or recycled bike locally or online
  • Bright clothing – will help you be seen on the road, and a helmet might protect you if you have a fall
  • Lights and reflectors – you must have these to ride at night
  • Bike lock – and panniers to help carry work or shopping
  • Sustrans Free Your Bike pack – useful information to get you started such as cycle routes in your area

Before setting off, check your bike fit. Something as simple as adjusting the saddle height can make all the difference to your comfort and safety. 

A little time spent maintaining your bike will keep it running smoothly. Minor jobs like looking after your chain, getting your gears running smoothly and puncture repair are easy to do yourself.

You can invest in a bike computer (from as little as £20) that will keep track of all the miles you cover, your average speed and how you’re improving. Track your miles all year to see how much you have saved versus driving and how many hours you have spent on the road. Enjoy the benefits of a regular and predictable commute to work – traffic jams don't apply to cycle paths. 

Cycling Scotland

Find everything you need to know about cycling in Scotland.

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