Compare election manifesto promises for cycling in Scotland

Political parties in Scotland have been publishing manifestos ahead of the election on 6 May. Cycling UK has produced a handy guide to help compare manifesto commitments on cycling from the main parties

Ahead of the Scottish Parliament election on 6 May, the five main political parties in Scotland have been publishing their election manifestos – the list of promises setting each party’s priorities for the next five years and aimed at winning votes.

To help members and supporters, Cycling UK has created a document to allow easy comparison of each manifesto’s commitments for cycling on a number of key cycling issues, including investment, creation of cycle networks and reduction of road traffic. 


Scottish Conservatives
Scottish Labour
Scottish Greens
Scottish Liberal Democrats

Funding for active travel
…spending - by the end of the parliament - 10% of the transport capital budget on walking, cycling and wheeling [this amounts to approx. 5.5% of the overall transport budget].
Over the course of the next Parliament, we would increase the share of the transport budget which is spent on active travel to 10%.
Increase active travel spending to 10% of the overall transport budget.
Immediately increase the active travel budget to at least £320m [approx. 10% of the transport budget]. Over … the next Parliament, …increase the overall budget for cycling, walking, city centre transformation and 15- minute neighbourhoods to 20% of the national transport budget.
Aim to double the share of the budget spent on active travel [this would bring spending to approx. 7% of the transport budget].

Cycle lanes and networks
Create, repair and improve a Scotland-wide active travel network to ensure that every town has access to a high quality and separated walking and cycling network.
By the end of the next Parliament, every city in Scotland should have a cycle network designed for commuting.
Invest in councils to create urban and rural safe active travel routes.

Enabling people to get…. onto bikes…. will include assessing and developing safe cycling routes.

New developments and regeneration [to allow] easy access for walking & cycling and incorporating …cycle pathways.
Deliver a reinvigorated national cycling and wheeling network, including active highways through rural areas to link towns and cities, with a rich network of well-planned urban cycling and walking routes. Streamline the process for designing and building active travel infrastructure.
Bring forward the £50 million programme for Active Freeway routes from town centres to outlying neighbourhoods.

Inclusive streets
20-minute neighbourhoods: the creation of liveable, accessible places, with thriving local economies, where people can meet their daily needs within a 20 minute walk.
All local schemes must meet a range of standards to ensure they are suitable for buggies, wheelchair users and older people.
Implement a gendered approach to transport infrastructure, ensuring women’s safety, convenience and affordability are properly addressed.
Introduce new design standards that prioritise quality and accessibility to all. Close the loopholes in the pavement parking ban.
Implement the pavement parking ban.

Reducing road traffic
We will reduce the use of cars – measured as ‘car kilometres’ - by 20% by 2030.
National focus should be on reducing the need for private car use.

Active Travel Plan will prioritise encouraging and enabling people to get out of their cars, onto bikes.

Use the planning system in urban areas to plan for less car use.
Encourage and support the use of demand management schemes at the local level… that disincentivise the use of the most polluting and larger vehicles.
Single biggest challenge to stop carbon emissions from transport will be to encourage drivers out of their cars… Get more freight onto railways to reduce congestion and pollution.

Neighbourhoods and town centres
By changing our approach to transport, housing and public services we can make 20 minute neighbourhoods a reality as we recover from the pandemic.
Councils should …. be encouraged to create more low traffic neighbourhoods, bus and bike only roads, school streets and low emission zones where they would be beneficial. Provide full funding for councils to scrap parking charges on publicly-owned car parks to encourage more people to support our high streets to recover.
Create neighbourhoods where people can access all the services they need within a 20-minute walk.

...making all residential areas low traffic neighbourhoods by reducing speeds and volumes of through traffic.
Make 15-minute neighbourhoods a key principle in Scotland’s Planning Policy Framework. Create a town and city centre green transformation fund to reorient these places towards pedestrians, cyclists and vulnerable road users.
Support the appetite for 20-minute neighbourhoods where people can access most of the things they need in daily life within a short distance of their home. Change town planning processes to make sure roads have separate spaces for cyclists, walkers and motorists, to keep them all safe.

Schools and cycle training
Ensure every child in Scotland leaves school with the ability to cycle safely.
In 2021, we would invest £1 million in cycle proficiency training for adults and cycle repair vouchers to encourage more people to take up cycling.
Active Scotland Plan…will support active travel…and support young people with equipment grants and coaching.
Support a Safe to School programme to ensure every child who lives within two miles of school is able to safely walk or wheel there.
Plan so that every child has done their cycling proficiency test by the end of primary school, and every adult can take tuition and a test if they want it.

Integrated journeys
Deliver an affordable, integrated public transport system with a smart ticket system.

Support feasibility studies to establish a network of mobility hubs across Scotland to assist in promoting active and green travel.
Make it easier to take bikes on buses and trains and require all new buses and trains to be designed to carry bikes. Support smart ticketing across Scotland for all public transport so that a smart card or phone can be used to pay for a whole journey, including bike hire.
Bring operators together to create single through-tickets and swipe cards that work for buses, trains and ferries across Scotland. …… time-limited pass for journeys by trains, buses, hired bikes and car clubs.

Other commitments (not for comparison)
Provide free bikes for all children of school age who cannot afford them Make owning a bike an option for everyone, will make loans and grants available for the purchase of pedal cycles and for their repair
Temporary schemes implemented during the pandemic must be evaluated and only maintained if they have been effective.
Deliver an active travel plan with enforceable targets for cycling and walking levels.

Consult on changing the default speed limit on restricted roads to 20 mph.

Fund to finance the repair of our essential road and path network, ensuring that potholes are eliminated.

Abolish the workplace parking levy.
Establish an online police reporting system enabling anyone to upload camera footage of dangerous driving Introduce a 20mph default speed limit in built-up areas, saving lives and making cycling and walking safer and more attractive.
Make cycling more attractive with a new challenge fund to help install showers and changing rooms in workplaces or community facilities. Decarbonise commuting through more support for e-bikes.

Link to Manifesto
SNP manifesto
Scottish Conservative manifesto
Scottish Labour manifesto
Scottish Greens manifesto 
Scottish Liberal Democrats manifesto

Download our manifesto comparison


Scotland’s Cycling and Sustainable Travel Hustings on 20 April at 7pm – hosted by Cycling UK in Scotland and Pedal on Parliament – will be the first opportunity for the manifesto commitments from all parties to be debated. The audience will be able to question the transport spokespersons from the five main parties including Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Michael Matheson, and listen to the debate.


Register for active travel hustings


We want to help our members and supporters in Scotland formulate their own opinions on which party is making the strongest commitments for cycling

Jim Densham, Cycling UK's campaigns and policy manager for Scotland

Jim Densham, Cycling UK's campaigns and policy manager for Scotland, commented:

"It’s important to understand what each party is promising to make cycling easier, safer and more commonplace in Scotland. We’re providing this comparison table so members and supporters don’t have to wade through all five manifestos to find the relevant policies about transport and neighbourhoods.

"We want to help our members and supporters in Scotland formulate their own opinions on which party is making the strongest commitments for cycling, and to help them ask searching questions at the hustings."

The comparison document provides direct quotes from the manifestos. To ensure impartiality, it provides no commentary or judgement but allows readers to compare party promises and form their own opinions of the parties.