Illustration of people cycling on bike lanes and a bus in EdinburghThe Scottish Government aims to reduce car kilometres travelled by 20% by 2030, and states that reducing car use will build stronger communities, including revitalising town centres and developing 20-minute neighbourhoods.

This report provides an evidence base on the environmental, economic and social impacts of sustainable travel for local high streets and town centres for those promoting, campaigning on, designing and delivering sustainable travel interventions.

The research involved a literature review, stakeholder interviews and case studies. As a companion to this report, a suite of engagement materials has been produced for use when engaging with communities, businesses and local representatives on plans to implement sustainable travel measures.

Summary of findings

The research found that introduction of sustainable travel can result in multiple positive benefits for high streets, such as: 

  • better environment
  • making room for people and nature
  • valued places that people enjoy
  • healthier, happier and safer communities
  • thriving businesses, better links to jobs and more spending

Summary of recommendations

The report recommends the following measures, which could be taken to increase sustainable travel to high streets and town centres:

  • Maximise the benefits of sustainable travel through holistic projects that meet community needs.
  • Provide guidance on how to measure benefits and evaluate interventions in order to identify and communicate these benefits effectively.
  • Identified benefits should play an important role in constructive engagement.
  • Groups potentially negatively impacted by interventions need to be particularly catered for in engagement.

Further details on the findings and recommendations can be found in the report attached.

Commercial vehicle emissions present a significant challenge to Scotland achieving net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2045. From 2012 to 2019, van and heavy duty vehicles (HDVs) emissions increased 25% and 4%, respectively.

The growth in van and heavy goods vehicle (HGV) numbers will worsen emissions, congestion and air pollution if left unchecked. In addition, an increase in commercial vehicle traffic in urban areas poses a safety challenge for other road users, especially those walking or wheeling.

The number of last mile deliveries has been increasing for some time because of the growth in online shopping. To help Transport Scotland (TS) improve its understanding of ‘last mile’ this project aimed to:

  1. Develop a profile of last mile delivery in Scotland
  2. Develop a high-level estimate of GHG emissions from last mile deliveries in Scotland.
  3. Understand what activities are underway in other jurisdictions to reduce emissions from this source.
  4. Collate details of commitments made by businesses operating in Scotland to reduce last mile emissions.
  • Last mile vehicles comprise 2.7% of all vehicles (cars, LCVs and HGVs) in Scotland.
  • Last mile mileage is 4.7% of total miles covered by cars, LCVs, and HGVs in Scotland.
  • Last mile goods moved equates to 9.2% of all goods moved.
  • Last mile emissions comprise an estimated 6.6% of all road transport emissions in Scotland.
  • Based on a review of initiatives in other jurisdictions no examples of specific policies were identified that specifically target last mile deliveries.  The examples typically involve a fleet working with a city municipality, and potentially other stakeholders, to develop a distinct project aimed at reducing emissions from last mile deliveries.
  • A number of large UK-wide businesses have made public commitments to tackle emissions from their home delivery vehicle fleets. These commitment include the roll out of electric vans, ending the use of fossil fuels vehicles across their fleets and use of cargo bikes for deliveries.

Outputs will be useful for TS to help it engage with the freight and logistics industry, identifying challenges and opportunities for decarbonisation. Findings will also help local authorities and fleet operators, by providing a sample of information on commitments made by businesses in Scotland to improve sustainability, and visibility of innovative schemes outside Scotland, which could potentially be replicated here.