Planning & Environment

Transport Scotland has announced a £10m fully funded programme to create ‘pop-up’ cycling lanes and walking routes in response to the outbreak. Local Authorities will receive guidance on carrying out improvements including road closures, widened pavements and increased pedestrianisation.

More cycling and walking

With Scotland’s road traffic falling by 75% during the lockdown, many are taking to their bikes as part of their daily exercise or commute. To better enable this shift, Councils are working quickly to reallocate road space to help the public abide by 2-metre social distancing guidelines long after the lockdown is eased.

The emergency response focuses on short, medium and long term strategies to avoid a second wave of the outbreak and relieve various pressure points as queues continue to build outside banks, grocery stores and other businesses. The measures also aim to tackle inequality as there are many without access to a private car.

The funding has been allocated to deliver the new ‘Spaces for People’ initiative with no match funding from local authorities required, while continuing to support previously committed projects.

Sustrans, a UK walking and cycling charity, has pledged to help with the procurement, design and implementation and civil engineering of new routes.

Glasgow City Council has announced road closures near Kelvingrove Park, whilst Edinburgh City Council will implement road closures from Sunday 3rd May.

Existing projects

Glasgow already has a £9 million project underway to transform Byres Road with an improved cycle infrastructure, increased pedestrianisation and a reduced speed limit of 20mph.

Edinburgh is also working to improve cycle facilities with its City Centre West to East Link (CCWEL) project, aiming to increase linkage from Roseburn path to Leith Walk via the City Centre, connecting various cycling and walking routes in the area. Like many other projects, the impact of Covid-19 has halted the delivery of these, with construction scheduled to commence again in Autumn 2020.

The benefits of improved green links

These measures will allow members of the public to look after their mental and physical health as well as maintaining social distancing guidelines. The measures also tie in with Government targets to reduce the effects of climate change as the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson stated ‘For our air quality, climate, health and particularly for our mental well-being at this time, walking and cycling remain our most beneficial form of transport’.

Claire Brown