The Scottish Government should reject any proposals for new road-building and invest savings in sustainable transport, according to campaigners.

Eight walking and cycling organisations have issued the call as part of a joint response to consultation on the National Transport Strategy, which closes tomorrow. 

They said a policy promoting walking, cycling and accessible public transport would benefit Scotland and allow the country to achieve its transport priorities.  Cycling Scotland, Cycling UK, Forth Environment Link, Living Streets, Paths for All, Ramblers Scotland, Sustrans Scotland and Transform Scotland’s six point plan said journeys on foot, bike and public transport should be prioritised over cars, to help tackle inequality, reduce carbon emissions and improve health and wellbeing.

As well as an end to government investment in the creation of new trunk roads, the organisations have made a number of what they believe are progressive suggestions for the way forward.

They include: taking space from private vehicles to make more room for walking and segregated cycling; investing in affordable and integrated public transport and ensuring all housing, commercial and retail developments include measures to promote “active travel” in any new proposals.

They go on to suggest supporting “behaviour change programmes” which encourage active and sustainable travel and improving access to bikes.

Sustrans deputy CEO John Lauder said the new National Transport Strategy rightly highlighted the role transport can play in health and wellbeing.

“We know that walking, cycling and public transport are best placed to deliver the aims of the new strategy, and these six priorities should be the focus to make it a success,” he said.

“This includes an end to expensive new road building schemes in order to tackle the climate emergency – this money can be better spent on sustainable, healthy alternatives. Clara Walker, executive director of Forth Environment Link, said the better the transport options, the more likely people were to leave their vehicles at home.

“By continuing to strengthen our National cycling and walking ambitions we will not only see improvements to our environment but also to public health,” she said.

“By increasing opportunities and funding for cycling and walking alongside improvements in the public transport network we will support our communities to make affordable and informed choices around how they travel.

“Those particularly in rural communities who experience higher public transport costs, will be able to look at multiple modes of transport as a real possibility and leave the car at home.”

Ian Findlay CBE, chief officer of Paths for All, called for “bold leadership and culture change” as part of a rethinking of investment in transportation in Scotland.

He said: “It’s essential that these are more than wise words in a wellcrafted strategy.”

The Scottish Government’s proposed National Transport Strategy sets out the vision for transport in Scotland for the next 20 years.

It includes a “sustainable travel hierarchy”, which is the system by which different modes of transport should be prioritised. However RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said many people would continue to rely on cars for work, shopping, school runs and visiting family.

“Our research shows three-quarters (76%) of Scottish drivers surveyed by the RAC said they would find it hard to adjust their lifestyle to being without a car. If Scotland was no longer to invest in new road infrastructure, communities could become cut off, congestion would increase,” he said. 

A Transport Scotland spokesperson said:“The Scottish Government is fully committed to delivering a sustainable, healthier, fairer and more accessible transport system as outlined in our draft National Transport Strategy which identifies the challenges and sets our vision for the future.

"Walking, cycling, shared and public transport options are key parts of our future vision and we expect our doubled investment in new infrastructure will make active travel a more attractive option than the car for everyday short journeys and as part of a public transport journey, improving health and well-being in the process.

“We recognise the strong views felt by our partners, however, all major projects within the Scottish Government’s transport portfolio are subject to significant assessment work to ensure we deliver the right schemes and keep impacts on the environment to the absolute minimum. We have a duty to ensure that the country is equipped with the appropriate infrastructure to meet the needs of all our population..”