In 2022, the Scottish Government consulted on a draft route map that sets out interventions to reduce the distance travelled by car by 20%, by 2030. Some of those relate specifically to children and young people (CYP).

This project aims to provide evidence to support the development of integrated policy interventions to increase sustainable travel among Scotland’s CYP and their families.

Researchers reviewed Scottish, Welsh and Danish policy, and literature evaluating interventions related to sustainable travel among CYP and families, focusing beyond the journey to/from school.

Summary findings

  • It is worth addressing travel behaviours beyond the school commute, including for leisure and other purposes.
  • There is potential in supporting infrastructural improvements with interventions that capitalise on the social environment of educational settings. For instance, a transport network that promotes independent movement from around age 12, around the transition to high school or earlier, would support sustainable travel norms before children reach driving age.
  • Designing integrated interventions to maximise both sustainable travel and related policy objectives such as physical activity and road safety could have an impact. For example, Learning for Sustainability is embedded in the Curriculum for Excellence and affords opportunities for interventions targeting multiple objectives – sustainable travel, physical activity, safety and wellbeing – aligning with the ‘Getting It Right for Every Child’ approach.
  • There is potential in including interventions that target families with younger children (0-4 years old) and whole family units. These might include providing smaller bikes, bike seats and cargo bikes through cycle share schemes; family-friendly rail fares and facilities in public transport and at interchanges; and in the design of walking and cycle routes to accommodate groups. 
  • Intervening with specific age groups and during key moments of change such as the transition from primary to secondary school, leaving school and starting a family could have an impact. This might include opportunities to piggyback on existing interventions such as baby boxes.  

The executive summary of the report includes a full list of findings and recommendations for policymakers in national and local government that set out priority actions to promote sustainable travel amongst children, young people and their families.