Connecting people and places

How we move around a place influences our health and levels of activity, our impact on the environment, our ability to connect with each other and with the facilities we need. The physical movement infrastructure we have in a place - such as roads, pavements, paths, cycleways and openspace - have an impact on the layout and attractiveness of our neighbourhoods.

The quality of the environment and the choices with which we are provided are a strong influence on how we move around. Ensuring that walking, wheeling and cycling are prioritised means making them pleasurable and easy activities. This requires not simply the provision of paths and cycleways but also the consideration of how they are integrated with the wider environment.

For individuals, the benefits can include increasing accessibility and inclusion, and increasing physical activity for key groups such as young people, disabled people and older people. 

inverted triangle illustrating the sustainable travel hierarchy with walking and wheeling at the top and private cat use at the bottom The sustainable travel hierarchy

Active travel

Place and placemaking are now widely recognised as important components of effective active travel strategies. Investment in green and sustainable transport systems can act as a key catalyst to achieving multiple benefits, such as improving air quality, supporting green infrastructure, climate change mitigation and supporting wider regeneration.

The Scottish Government has set out a long term Active Travel vision of enabling walking and cycling to be the most popular mode of travel for short, everyday journeys. The aim is to make Scotland's towns and cities friendlier, safer and more accessible for everyone. 

Active travel is fundamental to the development of a sustainable travel network and a key priority for ambitions to tackle climate change, improve health and provide a fair and equal society.  

The Active Travel Vision is supported by an Active Travel Framework, which is delivered through close working between Scottish Government, local authorities and partners.  Funding is available for projects throughout Scotland designed to improve our public spaces, such as creating segregated walking and cycling lanes and safer junctions and crossings. Support is also available for educational and behaviour change projects, making walking and cycling the easy choice for everyday short journeys.

Scottish Government allocates funding to partner organisations who are also responsible for delivering walking and cycling infrastructure and behaviour change projects across Scotland. You can find out more about this funding here.

National Walking Strategy

Let's get Scotland Walking is Scotland's National Walking Strategy. 

The Strategy outlines a vision of a Scotland where everyone benefits from walking as part of their everyday journeys, enjoys walking in the outdoors and where places are well designed to encourage walking.

The Strategy has 3 Strategic Aims:

  • Create a culture of walking where everyone walks more often as part of their everyday travel and for recreation and well-being
  • Better quality walking environments with attractive, well designed and managed built and natural spaces for everyone
  • Enable easy, convenient and safe independent mobility for everyone

The Strategy is supported by an Action Plan and is delivered by a range of partner organisations, facilitated by Paths for All. 

Active travel links

Living Streets Scotland

Living Streets is a UK wide charity for everyday walking whose mission is to achieve a better walking environment and inspire people to walk more.

Access the Living Streets website here

Paths for All

Paths for All is a Scottish charity which champions everyday walking for a happier, healthier, greener Scotland. Paths for All also deliver the Smarter Choices, Smarter Places grant programme, which is funded by Transport Scotland.

Access the Paths for All website here

Sustrans Scotland

Sustrans Scotland provides advice, support and funding that makes it easier for people to walk and cycle for everyday journeys. Sustrans administers the Places for Everyone fund which supports the delivery of active travel infrastructure.

Access the Sustrans Scotland site here

Cycling Scotland

Cycling Scotland is an independent cycling charity and plays a key role in supporting the development and delivery of the Cycling Action Plan for Scotland (CAPS). Cycling Scotland also provide support and funding through the Cycling Friendly Programme.

Access the Cycling Scotland website here

Access information on Active Travel funding here



Ensuring accessibility

Places work best when they work for everyone.  This means taking into account the needs of the whole community.  The design of places can sometimes lead to difficulties for certain groups, in particular disabled people and older people.  It's essential that the views and needs of everyone feed into how change is implemented and this is best done through early engagement and developing an understanding of how everyone needs to move around.

Work on the inclusive design agenda is progressing and guidance on inclusive design in town centres and busy streets in being developed through a partnership between Scottish Government, Transport Scotland and a range of organisations from across Scotland. 

You can read a background research report on inclusive design in town centres and busy streets here. 


Low emission zones 

Low Emission Zones (LEZs) to improve air quality are to be introduced across Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow between February 2022 and May 2022.  Plans to implement LEZs were temporarily paused due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but work has now restarted.

LEZs are key to improving air quality, protecting public health and supporting Scotland’s wider climate change ambitions by encouraging more sustainable transport options.

With an indicative timeline now established, planning continues at a local authority level and the Scottish Government will continue to develop regulations and funding.

What are Low Emission Zones?

Low Emission Zones set an environmental limit on certain road spaces, restricting access for the most polluting vehicles to improve air quality. This helps protect public health within our towns and cities, making them more attractive places in which to live, work and to visit.

Vehicles that do not meet the emission standards set for a Low Emission Zone will not be able to enter the zone. A penalty charge will be payable by the vehicle’s registered keeper when a non-compliant vehicle enters the LEZ.

Benefits of Low Emission Zones


  • help to protect public health by improving air quality, as well as delivering various health, environmental and economic benefits.
  • cleaner air can have health benefits for everyone, especially for old and very young people and for those with existing heart and lung conditions.
  • in 2010, the UK Government’s Department of Health’s Expert Advisory Committee, the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution (COMEAP), estimated that poor air quality shortens average life expectancy in Scotland by three to four months (compared to six to seven in England and Wales). Vulnerable groups are disproportionately affected (Health Protection Scotland, 2014).


  • can help reduce pollution from vehicle emissions.
  • help to accelerate the uptake of lower emission vehicles – and cleaner vehicles also benefit all areas they travel through – not just the Low Emission Zone.
  • encourage people to consider using public transport and active travel methods instead of driving.


  • can help improve air quality and protect public health within towns and cities. This makes them more attractive places to live, work and to visit.

Find out more about LEZs here

Designing Streets

Designing Streets is Scotland's policy statement for street design. It promotes a placemaking approach to street deign, where people and place come before the movement of motor vehicles.

Access Designing Streets here