A ‘FAR more radical' approach to discourage car use across Glasgow will be required if the city is to meet a zero emissions target by 2030, population health leaders have warned.

Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) welcomed existing proposals including a ban on cars in a core area of the city centre but said other measures must be considered including a reduction in off-road parking.

Policies that aim to make car use more costly and inconvenient such as a workplace parking levy should be "accelerated", according to its report.

It calls for more roads to be permanently closed to traffic, like Kelvinway in the west end, if communities are supportive and it doesn't cause significant disruption. 

Glasgow City Council has been one of the first Scottish councils to consider implementing a scheme whereby employers will pay an annual levy on every parking space at their premises. It is estimating the policy could net the local authority £30 million. 

The Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth has said that there will be no limit on the amount councils can charge. 

The report says wide-ranging proposals to redesign road space to encourage active transport are welcomed but warns: "Without a significant acceleration in planning processes, civic engagement and construction of new infrastructure now, the city’s target of becoming net-zero by 2030 will not be achieved."

READ MORE: SNP Government urged to act after Scotland's air pollution levels soared in 2021

Plans to introduce a 20mph speed limit on the majority of roads "should be brought in rapidly" to encourage safer walking and cycling.

Bruce Whyte, Public Health Programme Manager for GCPH said Glasgow was leading in a number of initiatives but said Edinburgh had been ahead of the curve in terms of funding for active transport, which had resulted in a steady increase in pre-pandemic walking and cycling.

"There's a lot of policy right now that's really good, it's just about getting the momentum behind it," he said.

"I think they [Glasgow] are taking a lead but other cities are well ahead of them. Edinburgh has had a commitment to 10% of their transport budget to active travel for the past ten years.

"We've got an over-capacity of parking, particularly off-road parking.

"A lot that is proposed looks very good but it takes a long, long time.

"We need to speed up the process for getting these [road] re-designs in place."

READ MORE: Cars to be banned in core area of Glasgow city centre, council leader announces

On proposals for a workplace parking levy he said: "There is a difference is between looking at it and actually doing it or seriously taking it on board because it would clearly reduce car use.

"It's the difference between the carrot and the stick.

"All the polices in Scotland talk about moving to a sustainable transport system so that's all good but just building a new cycle route is not going to convince lots of people to cycle.

"People are still quite rightly concerned about the risks of cycling, particularly if you are not a confident cyclist so reducing traffic would help with that.


"The 20mph speed limit seems to be taking an awful long time to bring in which would reduce traffic and help make people more comfortable about cycling and walking."

He said a national plan to reduce car use by 20% by 2030 would have to "carefully consider" how to make driving more expensive.

"Just now, it's the most convenient, cheap way of getting around," said Mr Whyte.

"Until it becomes less convenient and we get a better public transport system then people are still going to use their cars."

He said that despite a shift to a hybrid of home and office working, levels of car use were only just below pre-pandemic levels, likely due to continuing Covid anxiety over the use of trains and buses.

 "I think it will take a long time and there will have to be concerted campaigns to encourage people to use public transport," said Mr Whyte.

The report also warns that Glasgow has an unequal environment for walking and cycling, describing this as a "social injustice".

READ MORE: Glasgow west end parking charges provoke angry backlash 

A failure to maintain the roads could scupper plans to encourage more people to commute using active travel.


Without sufficient and dedicated funding for repairs, there is a danger that new cycle lanes will quickly degrade and use will decline. 

"Typically, areas where the population has the potential to make the most significant health gains due to  ealth contain the worst environmental conditions,"the report said.

"Routine maintenance and repairs of active travel routes are not currently carried out timeously or are not undertaken at all. 

"A clearly funded plan for regular repairs (e.g. potholes, tree roots, broken lights, etc.) and maintenance (e.g.clearance of broken glass, road detritus and leaves on pavements and in cycle lanes) is needed."


Around 350 deaths a year in Glasgow are attributed to pollution, with growing evidence linking poor air quality to diseases including dementia.

However, Mr Whyte says people should not be dissuaded from walking, running and cycling.

He said: "As that evidence develops, I think we are going to become more and more concerned about air pollution but the overall benefits of walking and cycling outweigh some of the risks."

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: "A spokesman said: “The active travel strategy is part of a wide ranging effort to create a sustainable transport system for Glasgow that supports the economy, tackles poverty, creates thriving neighbourhoods and is central to the fight against climate change.

“Our active travel strategy aims to create a City Network of protected infrastructure throughout the city that will make walking, wheeling and cycling safer and more accessible for people in all communities across Glasgow.

“The strategy complements the overall Glasgow Transport Strategy, which sets out 144 basic policy goals but also includes the crucial target of reducing car kilometres travelled in Glasgow by 30% by 2030.

“It is also directly linked to our Liveable Neighbourhoods plan, which draws on the 20-minute neighbourhood concept and prioritises active travel and public transport so people can meet the majority of their daily needs in local, inclusive communities.”

“An overall aim of all this work is to rebalance our transport system so that travel is easier, more affordable and fairer for the near 50% of Glasgow households without access to a private car.”