Cash will improve cycling and pedestrian space
Environmental campaigners have welcomed news the Scottish Government will support councils with £10m to introduce temporary road reallocation measures.
This follows concern that pedestrian and cycling infrastructure in Scotland is often insufficient to allow safe social distancing, while traffic reductions during lockdown have left road space under-used.
Transport secretary Michael Matheson said a package of support will be delivered to Scottish councils for measures such as pop-up cycle lanes and widening walkways. In answer to an MSP’s question, Matheson said these measures could be introduced “in a matter of weeks”.
Matheson also explained that there has been an increase in walking and cycling during lockdown, an increase he would like to see continue long-term.
Gavin Thomson, Friends of the Earth Scotland’s air pollution campaigner, said: “It’s fantastic to see the Scottish Government giving councils the support they need to unlock much needed public space for social distancing. We support the Cabinet Secretary’s ambition that we should build upon the recent increases in cycling and walking long after the risk from the coronavirus subsides. Hopefully these measures can help achieve that.
“Fundamentally, we need more space for people. Maintaining 2 metres social distancing can be difficult on our narrow pavements; people are walking on the road to ensure compliance with the guidance. Support from the Scottish Government will help all councils temporarily re-allocate road space, which recognises the drop in road traffic.”
“There are great examples around the world of governments quickly unlocking space for distancing, such as expanded cycle lanes, space for pedestrians on roads, and parks closed to through-traffic. All 32 councils in Scotland now have support to introduce innovative, low-cost measures, and they must start introducing these measures as quickly as possible.”