£10m active travel infrastructure initiative launched

Image credit: Colin Hattersley/Sustrans Scotland

THE Scottish Government has announced it will fund a new infrastructure programme for pop-up walking and cycling routes or temporary improvements to existing routes, to support physical distancing.

This will be backed by a package of guidance and support to local authorities from Transport Scotland and Sustrans Scotland for improvements such as widened pavements and cycle lanes.

As a result of Covid-19-related restrictions, cities across the world are seeing rising cycling rates and fewer car journeys. Many have responded by reallocating road space accordingly.

Every year, Transport Scotland and Sustrans Scotland run the ‘Places for Everyone’ active travel infrastructure initiative. The Scottish Government said the impact of Covid-19 means local authorities won’t have the capacity to design and apply for ‘complex multi-year infrastructure programmes due to the necessary focus on responding to the outbreak’.

As such, up to £10 million is being reallocated from the ‘Places for Everyone’ budget to deliver the new ‘Spaces for People’ initiative with no match funding from local authorities required, while continuing to support previously committed projects.

Transport minister Michael Matheson said, “I’m pleased we are able to put forward a package of support for our local authorities to implement temporary active travel measures, helping to ensure that people can walk, cycle and wheel during this public health emergency whilst physically distancing and keeping safe from traffic. I have written to every local authority in Scotland to advise them that the ‘Spaces for People’ initiative is designed with agility and pace in mind.

“Our communities need this support quickly, especially with the welcome increases in cycling we are seeing across the country. At the same time, almost every journey starts and ends on our pavements in some way, and so it is vitally important that people can physically distance for those essential trips or for exercise. Infrastructure is only part of the response and I’m struck by the many organisations, including our Active Travel Delivery Partners, who are providing support to keep key workers moving and help with deliveries for those who require it.”