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New report shows business should be front and centre in creating Car-Free City Centres

Published 10 June 2021 by Transform Scotland

Transform Scotland

News Release

Thursday 10 June 2021

Transform Scotland has today (June 10) published a new report titled Open for Business: Gaining business support for transforming city centres’. Using an analysis of Oslo’s Bilfritt Byliv – Car Free City Life scheme – the report shows that transforming city centres into areas that prioritse pedestrians, cyclists and public transport brings social, environmental and economic benefits to city centres. Civic space is good news for local business. Now is the time for Scotland to take bold steps forward in reimagining public space.

With high street businesses already in decline and facing the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that we invest in our city centres and put local businesses front and centre as we work to transform our city centres. Open for Business identifies a series of recommendations for gaining business support for car-free city centres (CCFCs).

Oslo’s population of 650,000 is a scalable example of how car-free interventions could work in Glasgow (590,507). Scotland can learn from our friends in Europe, with even more scalable examples across the continent: Bremen, Germany; Lund, Sweden and Enschede, Netherlands.

The Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan 2020 included a remarkable commitment to reduce car mileage by 20% by 2030. While car traffic is no longer rising very quickly nationwide, few internationally are delivering traffic reduction, and certainly not across a whole country. Car-free city centres would bring immediate change on this level, and the commitment of city centre business will be crucial in making these steps.

Scotland’s Local Authorities must work closely with their business stakeholders to rejuvenate our city centres, reducing pollution and congestion. These changes will bring social and economic improvements and encourage people to spend time in their city centres and make positive use of public space. Design of car-free city centres that better meet the needs of local businesses can deliver wider benefits both in reducing the number of cars in our cities, and for the communities within those cities as a whole.

Jamie Wylie, author of the report and spokesperson for Transform Scotland said:

“The devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic faced by businesses have shown more than ever that we must transform our city centres. The Open for Business report shows that car-free city centres bring positive change to our local businesses. Scotland can learn from our friends in Europe how to design and deliver car-free city centres to best meet the needs of our businesses, which will bring wider benefit not just to the environment, to the businesses themselves but to our communities as well.”

John Lauder, Deputy CEO of Sustrans, said:

“Now is the time for local authorities in Scotland to make bold decisions to deliver cities that prioritise people over vehicles. This could also include changes to transport logistics for businesses, such as the integration of cargo bikes for last-mile deliveries.”

Clare Reid, Director of Policy and Public Affairs of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI), said:

“Cities around the world are making plans for the path to net zero carbon emissions. Transport and business will be central to the success of this. This research shows that creating cities designed around people not only makes sense socially and environmentally, but economically too.”

The report is available at <>.


Notes To Editors

[1] Transform Scotland

Transform Scotland is the national alliance for sustainable transport, bringing together organisations from the private, public and voluntary sectors. See <> for details.

[2] ‘Open for Business’ report

The report is available for download from <>.

[3] Reference – Scot Gov Securing Green Recovery