With the Holyrood election approaching on May 6th, we’re starting to see party manifestos come out. With our hustings event this evening we wanted to summarise where each of the main parties stand on active travel so far (we’ll update this post once the last couple are announced).

In the middle of an election, we’re not going to comment here on the details of one party’s policy over another, but it’s encouraging to see that every major party whose policies we know about so far is promising a significant increase in investment in active travel – something we’ve campaigned for from the start. And they’re also clearly starting to understand that that investment needs to go on infrastructure everyone can use. The devil will be in the detail, of course, but it does seem as if our years of campaigning is starting to have an effect.

Here the promises are in the order of publication, in the words used in the manifestos themselves, but placed against our own three manifesto asks. Have a read – and if you’ve any questions, don’t forget it’s our hustings event this evening which might give you a chance to ask the politicians yourselves!

Scottish Green Party

Investment: “We will immediately increase the active travel budget to at least £320m. We view this as a minimum level of investment. Over the duration of the next Parliament, we aim to increase the overall budget for cycling, walking, city centre transformation and 15-minute neighbourhoods to 20% of the national transport budget. Further capital could be raised to accelerate the transition through local taxes aimed at the most polluting vehicles and their use. We will underpin this expenditure with reforms that deliver safer, greener and better communities.”


  • “Deliver a reinvigorated national cycling and wheeling network, including active highways through rural areas to link towns and cities, with a rich network of well-planned urban cycling and walking routes.
  • Streamline the process for designing and building active travel infrastructure and introduce new design standards that prioritise quality and accessibility to all.
  • Support a Safe to School programme to ensure every child who lives within two miles of school is able to safely walk or wheel there, and that those who live further away have access to a school bus.

Safer speeds: Introduce a 20mph default speed limit in built-up areas, saving lives and making cycling and walking safer and more attractive.

Other policies:

  • Make 15-minute neighbourhoods a key principle in Scotland’s Planning Policy Framework. Our vision is for everyone in towns and cities to be able to get what they need within a 15-minute walk.
  • Create a town and city centre green transformation fund to re-orient these places towards pedestrians, cyclists and vulnerable road users including children, the elderly and disabled people. We will reclaim road space for outdoor leisure and commercial opportunities, and support the use of vacant premises for arts, recreation and other activities that benefit local communities.
  • Close the loopholes in the pavement parking ban.
  • Make it easier to take bikes on buses and trains and require all new buses and trains to be designed to carry bikes.
  • Establish an online police reporting system enabling anyone to upload camera footage of dangerous driving.

Green’s manifesto in full

Scottish National Party

Investment: Since the start of the pandemic we have seen a huge increase in cycling and walking. During lockdown people were encouraged to take physical activity and found their local roads were less busy and felt safer. It proved that people will choose to cycle when they feel safe. We will lock in that change by spending – by the end of the parliament – 10% of the transport capital budget on walking, cycling and wheeling.

Infrastructure: We will create, repair and improve a Scotland-wide active travel network to ensure that every town has access to a high quality and separated walking and cycling network, allowing safe daily commutes and reducing dependence on private motor vehicles.

Safer speeds: No policy stated.

Other policies:

  • To encourage our youngest citizens, we will provide free bikes for all children of school age who cannot afford them and ensure every child in Scotland leaves school with the ability to cycle safely. To make owning a bike an option for everyone, and reduce transport poverty, we will make loans and grants available for the purchase of pedal cycles and for their repair.
  • We will reduce the use of cars – measured as ‘car kilometres’ – by 20% by 2030, taking car use back to levels last seen in the 1990s.

The SNP’s manifesto in full.

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Investment: Aim to double the share of the budget spent on active travel, and bring forward the £50 million programme for Active Freeway routes from town centres to outlying neighbourhoods, which has been delayed until 2025 by the current government.

Infrastructure: Change town planning processes to make sure roads have separate spaces for cyclists, walkers and motorists, to keep them all safe.

Safer speeds: No policy stated.

Other policies:

  • Make cycling more attractive with a new challenge fund to help install showers and changing rooms in workplaces or community facilities.
  • Decarbonise commuting through more support for e-bikes, as part of a plan to increase government support for households to buy or use forms of electric transport.
  • Plan so that every child has done their cycling proficiency test by the end of primary school, and every adult can take tuition and a test if they want it.
  • Insist on a Fatal Accident Inquiry for each pedestrian death and require regional transport authorities to take remedial action.

The Lib Dems’ manifesto in full.

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Investment: During the pandemic, the number of people cycling and walking to work has increased and we must take steps to
maintain this. Due to the changed context, the Scottish Government’s 2030 active travel ambition should be brought forward to the end of the next Parliament. Over the course of the next Parliament, we would increase the share of the transport budget which is spent on active travel to 10 per cent.

Infrastructure: All local schemes must meet a range of standards to ensure they are suitable for buggies, wheelchair users and older people, set by the Active Nation Commissioner whose role should be put on a statutory footing. Temporary schemes implemented during the pandemic must be evaluated and only maintained if they have been effective. Councils should lead post-COVID reviews of changed travel
patterns in their area and be encouraged to create more low traffic neighbourhoods, bus and bike only roads, school streets and low emission zones where they would be beneficial. By the end of the next Parliament, every city in Scotland should have a cycle network designed for commuting.

Safer speeds: No policy stated

Other policies:

  • In 2021, we would invest £1 million in cycle proficiency training for adults and cycle repair vouchers to encourage more people to take up cycling.

The Tories’ manifesto in full.

Scottish Labour Party

Investment: We will increase active travel spending to 10% of the overall transport budget, giving priority to encouraging and enabling people to get out of their cars, onto bikes, increasing walking and public transport use for better health and a cleaner environment. This will include assessing and developing safe cycling routes.

Infrastructure: We will also use the planning system in urban areas to plan for less car use, making all residential areas low traffic neighbourhoods by reducing speeds and volumes of through traffic while maintaining local access for those who need it… We will create neighbourhoods where people can access all the services they need within a 20-minute walk.

Safer speeds: We will consult on changing the default speed limit on restricted roads to 20 mph, to ensure safer speeds where people live, work and play.

Other policies:

  • Scottish Labour will develop and deliver an active travel plan with enforceable targets for cycling and walking levels, to include a survey of condition and funding of maintenance of the path network.
  • We will implement a gendered approach to transport infrastructure, ensuring women’s safety, convenience and affordability are properly addressed.
  • After the long Scottish Government delays we will reprioritise and expand the implementation of low emission zones in Scotland, and we will explore the implementation of minimum air quality standards around our schools.

Scottish Labour’s manifesto in full


Active travel manifestos: Where do the main parties stand?