Targets for a sustainable transport future

As the international COP26 climate conference marks ‘Transport Day’ targets for changing the way we travel around Edinburgh have been proposed to help achieve our own ambitious net zero goals.

If approved by Transport and Environment Committee, the Mode Share Targets will form part of a suite of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for monitoring the success of the City Mobility Plan (CMP). This ten-year transport strategy addresses the challenge of reducing carbon emissions, as well as issues like poor air quality, congestion and accessibility.

Recommended targets include a 30% reduction in kilometres (kms) travelled by car by Edinburgh residents over the next decade. This is higher than the Scottish Government’s 20% target, reflecting our bold net zero by 2030 aspirations, which will play a big part in reaching the national goal to achieve net zero carbon by 2045. 

Through the CMP and several other strategies, like the proposed City Plan 2030, we’re working to support modal shift to more sustainable forms of transport, like walking, wheeling, cycling or using public transport. Amongst these are the development of 20-minute neighbourhoods, where people will be able to access key services and amenities within a ten-minute walk from their home.

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener, said: 

Our targets for mode share are, quite rightly, ambitious, and reflect our commitment to drive down carbon emissions significantly over the coming years.

Motor traffic is a key contributor to our carbon footprint, not to mention its impact on congestion, road safety and air quality. It’s our duty not only to limit these effects but also to provide attractive alternatives for travel to and around the city.

Through the City Mobility Plan we want to transform the way people move around the Capital to meet the targets proposed today, delivering a healthier, fairer and welcoming environment and responding to the climate crisis.

Councillor Karen Doran, Transport and Environment Vice Convener, said: 

We simply must change our travel habits for the good of the city and the environment in general. We’re already making strides with significant active travel investment and an excellent public transport offering but there’s still a lot to be done.

These targets will allow us to monitor the effectiveness of these schemes, while helping to make decisions around Edinburgh’s sustainable development.

Targets for an increase in alternative modes of transport corresponding with the move away from private car journeys have also been set. These assume that half of all short trips (under 3.2km) currently made by car and a quarter of intermediate trips (3.2km to 8km) could be made using active travel. Edinburgh already has high levels of walking with 36% of residents choosing this mode over any other.

Under these proposals, by 2030 the number of kms travelled per week by walking should increase by 3% (equivalent to 223k additional kms), kms cycled would be up by 35% (equivalent to 924k additional kms), kms travelled by bus or tram would rise by 26% (equivalent to 6.3m additional kms) and there would be a 12% increase in the kms travelled by rail (equivalent to 510k additional kms).

In 2019 we carried out a citywide survey on travel behaviour to better understand how often Edinburgh residents use different modes of travel, how far they travel to work, education and other trips, and by what means. This has been used to estimate one of the ‘baseline’ mode shares from which to measure any future change.

It’s acknowledged that the situation will continue to evolve along with the Covid-19 pandemic, with working from home expected to remain high as well as other associated lifestyle changes. The KPIs, including mode share, will be monitored as part of CMP reviews, considering changing landscapes and to ensure they remain realistic and ambitious. They will help inform new developments across the city as part of City Plan 2030 too.

While the targets apply to Edinburgh residents only, the CMP seeks to tackle the impact of commuting into the city from the wider region through a range of measures. These include the expansion and creation of new regional interchanges, a workplace parking levy and parking controls.

Read the full report, City Mobility Plan – Mode Share Targets, on the Council website. You can watch discussion of the report by Transport and Environment Committee live from 10am on Thursday, 11 November, via webcast.

Published: November 10th 2021