Skip to main content
Blog Post 14 December 2023 Updated 21 May 2024

Active travel in Scotland – save money and improve your health

Location notice

Please note that this page contains information and links most relevant for people living in Scotland.

Active travel involves getting around in a physically active manner, whether it’s by walking, wheeling, or cycling. It’s a healthy and ecofriendly way to travel, taking care of your wellbeing while being kind to the environment and your wallet.  

The Scottish Government is committed to making active travel the go-to choice for everyday short journeys by 2030, as outlined in their active travel framework

Read on to learn more about the benefits of active travel and the funding available to help you get started. 

The benefits of active travel

1. Active travel saves you money

In the UK, everything is getting more expensive due to the cost of living crisis – from energy to food to travel – putting extra strain on people’s budgets. One of the main benefits of choosing active travel is that it’s not just a lifestyle choice, it’s also a smart money move.  

For instance, the average Scottish driver spends £25 a week on fuel – imagine what else you could do with that money. By ditching your car, you also reduce expenses like vehicle tax, maintenance and insurance costs, which add up to around £1,100 per year. So, go ahead and grab yourself some trainers or a cycle and start saving. 

2. Active travel makes you healthier

Incorporating active travel into your daily routine doesn’t just get you from point A to point B – it also unlocks a range of health benefits. Regular physical activity is linked to: 

  • lower mortality rates 
  • a reduced risk of heart problems 
  • decreased chances of experiencing depression 

These advantages span across all age groups, supporting children in maintaining a healthy weight and acting as a safeguard against hip fractures as we age (Sustrans, 2017). 

Health benefits diagram

Source: this diagram is an adaptation of a government diagram available from GOV.UK

3. Active travel improves air quality

In Scotland, transport is the biggest contributor to climate change, responsible for over a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. And cars alone contribute 38% to transport emissions. By reducing our reliance on daily car journeys, we’re not just reducing congestion. It’s a direct route to a healthier, fairer, and greener Scotland (Net Zero Nation, 2023). 

The NHS considers air pollution to be the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK. Choosing to walk or cycle instead of drive is a simple but impactful solution. Each time you chose active travel you’ll save an average of 35kg in carbon (CO2) emissions per mile. And replacing car journeys with public buses goes even further, reducing CO2 emissions by 39%.  

As we take these steps towards a cleaner future, we play a crucial role in shaping Scotland’s environment and moving closer to the goal of achieving net zero emissions. 

An individual carrying groceries while strolling home under a blue sky.

What funding is available for active travel in Scotland?

Making the transition to active travel has never been more accessible. The Scottish Government provides funding for eligible households living near low emission zones through grants administered by us. You can get: 

  • A £2,000 cash grant for scrapping an older vehicle. 
  • Up to £1,000 towards the cost of active or shared travel options through the Travel Better grant.  

For more information, or to see if you’re eligible, find out more about the low emission support fund

Hear about Wasseem and his experience with the low emission zone support fund

Wasseem from Glasgow transitioned to active travel thanks to the low emission zone support fund: 


Adopting active travel in Scotland has real benefits. It saves you money, improves your health, and contributes to a cleaner environment. With the Scottish Government’s support and accessible funding, making the switch has never been easier. So, whether walking, wheeling or cycling, it’s a smart move for your wallet, your wellbeing, and the planet. 


Sustrans (2017). The contribution of active travel to health improvement

Net Zero Nation (2023). Travel less by car

Last updated: 21 May 2024