More than two-thirds of Scottish town and city dwellers think we shouldn’t need cars for everyday journeys

Edinburgh mum,Insani Soleha and her daughter Thea tend to walk whenever possible

MORE than two-thirds of Scots think people should be able to make their everyday journeys without a car, new research has revealed.

The findings, which form part of a YouGov survey of 1,048  drivers living in urban areas in Scotland, also found that almost three quarters think people should be able to meet most of their everyday needs within a 20-minute walk, cycle or local public transport trip from their home.

And, that 80% think it’s important for the Scottish government to enable people to have a good standard of living in Scotland without needing a car.

But, although Scots are keen to ditch their car where possible, the survey also found that even in urban areas most people typically drive because there are no other transport choices.

Commissioned by walking and cycling charity Sustrans Scotland, the Reducing Car Use report, investigated the influences behind people’s travel choices and how they viewed different types of transport. It also looked at the best ways to encourage people to reduce their personal car use. 

It found that people wanted to live in healthier and more attractive places – with more than half of those surveyed supporting a range of measures to reduce car use in towns and cities, including:

  • Closing off streets directly outside schools to all traffic at drop off and pick up times
  • Stopping polluting vehicles from entering areas of high air pollution to improve air quality
  • Creating regular car-free days at weekends
  • Restricting traffic in residential streets.

Speaking about the findings, Sustrans Scotland Director Grace Martin said:

“Too many neighbourhoods in Scotland have been planned around car travel at the expense of providing the local jobs and services that a community needs to thrive.

“We need to make sure that planning towns and cities focusses on creating healthy, low carbon neighbourhoods, where people live within a 20-minute walk of everyday services and needs.

“This includes putting a stop building new roads when other options exist to improve public transport, along with walking and cycling. We should be taking bigger steps to ensure that walking, cycling and public transport are the most attractive, convenient and cheapest ways to get around our towns and cities.  In fact, it should be a no-brainer.”

Past research, however, found more than one million Scots live in areas at risk of transport poverty where people do not have access to essential services or work because of a lack of nearby amenities and affordable transport options.

Case study

Edinburgh mum, Insani Soleha, 40, has been driving for over a decade.

She uses her car to go to college, where she is training to be a hairdresser, as well as go to the shops, for socialising and for ferrying around her two children, Aisha, 17 and Thea 4.

Insani says she would love to stop using her car if possible, but it’s currently too convenient for her to give up. “I started college in August and getting there by bus is a nightmare,” she explains.

“The bus times don’t work for me and the journey takes forever. And on top of that, I need to pick up my youngest from childcare in the evenings at a particular time. Having a car makes everything just so much handier.”

She admits that being a parent makes her default to the car more quickly – due to it often being the most practical mode of transport. But she would love to have the ability to choose to use other ways of getting around.

“I tend to walk whenever possible especially if my destination is close by. Or I’ll take a bus if it’s going the right way at the right time.

“I do have a bike and cycle from time to time too. But my youngest is too big now to fit on the back and she gets tired if we go too far. I then end up having to carry her and her bike, which isn’t ideal,” she says.

“I want to walk more as you get to be more active and it’s really good for you, but with small children, it’s really hard.

“Once my kids have left home, I would love to give up my car but for now, it is just too convenient.”

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