CAR-FREE cities bring “positive changes” for businesses, but councils must work with firms to get their support, a charity has reported.

Sustainable transport charity Transform Scotland launched its Open for Business report in George Square yesterday – where cyclists and pedestrians used car-free interventions introduced during the pandemic.

Using Oslo as a case study, the report claimed prioritising active travel and public transport brings environmental and economic benefits.

The report’s author, Jamie Wylie, a spokesman 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 or to the businesses themselves, but to our communities as well.”

With the Scottish Government aiming to reduce car mileage by 20% by 2030, charity representatives say car-free city centres would make an “immediate change”.

Oslo, with a population of 650,000, can be compared to Glasgow, which has around 590,000 residents, the charity believes.

Learning lessons from the implementation of a car-free city centre in Norway, the report recommends close engagement with business owners, promoting the benefits and support measures based on firms’ needs.

Marie Ferdelman, policy officer at Transform Scotland, said car-free city centres are “more enjoyable for people to spend their time in”, which leads to them spending more money.

She said businesses are a “real key stakeholder” and it’s important they are listened to.

Consultation and “clear communication” are required, she added, while it’s also “quite important to deliver some benefits early to demonstrate the positives”.

Car dominance has caused “significant issues”, including carbon emissions, air pollution, congestion and physical inactivity, the report states. It adds introducing car-free zones needs the support of businesses “given their important role as contributors to economic activity and employment”.

Ferdelman said: “Good public transport, affordable public transport, is key.”

The council recently revealed a plan to introduce liveable neighbourhoods across Glasgow, where people can meet their daily needs within 20 minutes of their home by walking, wheeling or cycling.

It has been designed to cut car use for everyday journeys, such as to schools, shops and to GPs.

Ferdelman explained that the policy “doesn’t mean you create shut-off neighbourhoods and never leave”. City centres will still have an appeal, with shops, restaurants and cafes, she added.