Active Travel Infrastructure can lead to major changes in how people travel locally. Smaller interventions, such as signage or bike shelters can also help to improve active travel options step by step. Community groups can improve active travel infrastructure in their local areas by building and installing a wide range of interventions such as footpaths, cycleways, bike shelters, bike repair stations, benches, showers and lockers. Each piece of infrastructure can make active travel a more convenient and attractive mode of transport, however it is important when beginning an infrastructure project to understand what the community need and where.
Active travel infrastructure can benefit communities by improving wellbeing and road safety as well as contributing to local environments and creating attractive public spaces. Physical activity has many mental and physical health benefits and access to spaces for exercise such as pathways is key for realising these benefits. Separating active travel infrastructure from roads reduces accident rates and allows less confident riders or walkers a safe space for active travel. Offering alternative travel options to driving can help reduce local emissions and when elements of local history or ecology are incorporated through interpretation boards or artwork, infrastructure can become contribute to a sense of place and attract visitors.
The Peffery Way, a developing pathway between Dingwall and Strathpeffer, is a great example of a community project which, delivered solely by volunteers, has found innovative ways to create an important active travel link. The pathway connects the two town via 6km low-level route which utilises and old railway line and provides a route which avoids crossing major roads, giving a safe route for pupils travelling to school and commuters alike. Volunteers have been essential throughout the project in maintaining the completed sections of the path and preparing new sections for construction. The team behind the Peffery Way have secured support and contributions from local businesses through donations of tools, building materials, mapping services and infrastructure designs, making great use of skills and expertise held within their community.
As custodians of the National Cycling Network Sustrans have a wealth of experience in delivering active travel infrastructure projects. Since 1977 the UK wide charity have worked with a wide range of partners to develop safe routes for walkers and cyclists and deliver behavioural change projects that lead the way for communities developing active travel cultures. Driven largely by volunteers Sustrans are active in rural and urban areas throughout Scotland. The charity are increasingly focussing on projects that create heathy and happy places, working closely with communities to build infrastructure that connects with local history, environments and cultures through the incorporation of artwork or connections with local businesses.
Through the Places for Everyone program Sustrans can provide advice, support and funding to community organisations with an interest in creating active travel infrastructure. The program is funded by Transport Scotland and provides applicants with access to expert knowledge and experience from the Sustrans team, guidance around design infrastructure which meets the Sustrans design principals and funding to deliver projects.
Paths for All also provide a range of support services for communities looking to build or maintain outdoor paths and places. As part of their varied work to promote sustainable transport, Paths for All offer advice, training support and funding for the development of active travel infrastructure through their Community Paths team. The Community Paths and Community Active Travel Grants are both delivered with the aim of making it easier for people to walk and cycle when making everyday journeys, funding various project elements such as pathway signage and promotion, route development and maintenance. The Technical Advice offered by Paths for All can further assist communities on issues such as pathway feasibility studies, surveying, design and volunteer coordination, ensuring that any community with a pathway idea has the support needed to deliver impactful projects.
Cycling Scotland, the national cycling organisation, help communities to improve local cycling facilities through the Cycling Friendly Communities Fund. One of a number of Cycling Friendly Streams, others include Schools, Campus and Employer, the fund can be used by communities to purchase bike storage, tools and signage, offering communities another source of support in developing active travel infrastructure.