Skip to main content

The seasons can present a challenge to encouraging people to move away from private car use. The changeable, cold and wet weather that typifies Scotland’s winter, autumn, spring and sometimes summer months reduces many people’s willingness to engage in active travel. It also makes public transport less appealing if it involves prolonged periods outside between journey legs, for instance when waiting for a bus or a train.

Mobility hubs, as much as possible, should be designed to minimise any discomfort caused by exposure to poor weather. Installing shelters is the simplest way of achieving this. Cost factors will likely dictate the specification level of shelters that can be installed at different locations.

In the case of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, as well as giving cover to those using the chargers, shelters protect the chargepoints themselves from the weather, potentially prolonging their lifespan. It is worth considering shelters for charging infrastructure as standard in areas that often experience harsh weather conditions, such as at high altitudes or in close proximity to the sea.

From late autumn until early spring, Scotland also experiences prolonged hours of darkness. It is therefore important that mobility hub locations are well lit, ideally with good CCTV coverage in place, to ensure people feel safe when using them all year round.

The traffic volume at transport hubs in some places will fluctuate over the year in line with the ebb and flow of tourist numbers. Popular tourist locations tend to see much higher traffic volumes in the summer months than winter. This seasonality may affect local people’s willingness to make use of these hubs. Some may be more comfortable using them when there are large numbers of people present, as this gives them an increased sense of safety. Others may avoid them as they perceive them to be too crowded. It can also be problematic for local people reliant on a hub’s chargepoints, if they find access significantly curtailed at certain times of year by the volume of other users. Mobility hubs therefore need to be carefully designed so they have the capacity to cope with busier periods, while remaining cost effective during quieter times of the year.

Active travel journey numbers and the use of infrastructure such as paths for walking, cycling, wheeling, and shared public bike schemes are likely to be most impacted by poor weather conditions. Shetland is one area that has explored the opportunity to link charging infrastructure with active travel infrastructure. The council has set up projects on some of their smaller islands. They have however highlighted that the seasonal variation in usage levels has presented a challenge to these projects. The low provision of public chargers relative to the rest of Scotland, at just 0.09 per 1,000 people compared to 1.94 nationwide as highlighted in their regional transport strategy, only adds to this challenge by reducing linkage opportunities. More information on Shetland’s active travel projects is detailed in the reduce private vehicle dominance section.