£1.9 billion boost from walking and cycling

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A NEW report shows how users of Scotland’s National Walking and Cycling Network (NWCN) spent £1.9 billion in 2019.

The NWCN includes Scotland’s Great Trails, the National Cycle Network and Scottish Canals towpaths and stretches 6,879km across the country.

Walkers and cyclists made 145.1 million trips on the network in 2019, spending almost £2 billion and supporting around 27,500 jobs.

Use of the routes and the associated reduction in car travel is estimated to have contributed a further £108 million to the economy, most significantly through improvements to health outcomes.

Users of Scotland walk way spent £1.9 billion in local economy - Business News Scotland
People excercising beside the Forth and Clyde canal, Glasgow.
©Lorne Gill/SNH

Walking and cycling trips on the network are estimated as taking 19.5 million car journeys off the road over the year, saving 7.1 million kg of CO2e.

Meanwhile the vast majority of recreational bikers and hikers said the network had helped them to increase their physical activity (84%), improve their wellbeing (75%) and boost their overall life satisfaction (93%).

Francesca Osowska, NatureScot Chief Executive and keen cyclist, said: “This research demonstrates the enormous benefits – and huge potential – of the National Walking and Cycling Network for local communities and users alike.

“Covid-19 has led to a surge in the number of people accessing the great outdoors close to home, reinforcing the need to build on that potential. The report also highlights the important role that active travel can play as a nature-based solution to climate change.”

John Lauder, Deputy CEO of Sustrans, said: ““This report demonstrates the huge environmental, health and economic benefits of investing in walking, wheeling and cycling. Bold, long-term support and backing is now needed to build upon this positive shift towards active journey choices.”