PROPOSALS to ban cars from parts of towns and cities as part of a green travel campaign may lead to job losses and shop closures, a leading motoring group warns.
A national taskforce aiming to boost cycling and walking has recommended a raft of measures – now under consideration by Transport Scotland – that include outlawing vehicles from specified areas, as well as introducing “road user charges” and a “workplace parking levy”.
It also wants cars banned from parts of some urban roads to make way for bikes and buses.
The taskforce’s report admits the recommendations will lead to decisions that are “unpopular but right”, saying it wants “behaviour change programmes” to convince drivers who refuse to leave their cars at home.
It is estimated this will see three-quarters of existing diesel vehicles prevented from entering key city centre streets.
Transport Scotland are looking at the report from the task force – established by Transport Minister Humza Yousaf in 2016 – which warns the “car is king” culture must be replaced in Scotland by efforts to “put people first and make cars feel like guests”.
The proposals have sparked concern among motoring groups.
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA , said: “Having clean air in our towns and cities is important to everyone, including eight out of 10 drivers, but politicians need to be careful that their policies do not have a negative impact on the high street.
“More than three quarters of freight is transported by road, so businesses will be anxious to see how any formal proposals impact on them.
“If it leads to increased consumer costs, job losses or shops and businesses closing, it could create a much bigger economic problem.”
The taskforce report calls for a multi-million-pound rise in funding for the plan, diverting funds from roads to improving cycle paths and bus and train services.
Looking at measures to discourage drivers, the report says “a policy of reducing urban traffic and transferring carriageway space to active travel should be considered, including workplace parking levy, road-user charging and encouraging more car-sharing”.
It adds: “Many travel-related policies create incentives for the use of cars through low-cost or free parking, subsidised travel and business mileage.
“The introduction of road pricing and workplace parking levies should be considered to emphasise the cost of car use as opposed to the use of public or active travel.”
But Neil Greig, director of policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: “Public transport is not attractive to many people and walking or cycling does not work if you live in the suburbs, or have to get across the city.”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The Scottish Government has a clear policy against the use of road pricing and tolls, which is why we abolished tolls on the Forth and Tay road bridges.
“In the coming months, Transport Scotland will have wider discussions with internal and external stakeholders to decide which recommendations to take forward, with the aim of making it easier for all stakeholders to deliver new, innovative and popular infrastructure which supports and encourages walking and cycling.”But Neil Greig, director of policy at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, said: ‘Public transport is not attractive to many people and walking or cycling does not work if you live in the suburbs, or have to get across the city.’
And Scottish Conservatives transport spokesman Jamie Greene said he was concerned about keeping the country moving.
He said: ‘There is nothing wrong with encouraging active lifestyles and cleaner air in cities. But Humza Yousaf needs to remember his primary job is to keep Scotland moving. Many of these proposals would do the precise opposite.’