The new infrastructure programme will cover new 'pop-up' walking and cycling routes or temporary improvements to existing routes. It will be supported 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.
The money is being reallocated from an ‘active travel’ programme that local authorities can normally apply to every year. Every year, Transport Scotland and Sustrans Scotland run the ‘Places for Everyone’ active travel infrastructure initiative. However, the impact of Covid-19 means that local authorities will not have the capacity to design and apply for complex multi-year infrastructure programmes as they are focused on responding to the outbreak. As such, up to £10m is being reallocated from the ‘Places for Everyone’ budget to deliver the new ‘Spaces for People’ initiative. No match funding is required from local authorities and previously committed projects will continue to be supported.
Cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity 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.”
John Lauder, deputy CEO at Sustrans Scotland, said: “We welcome the Scottish Government’s package of support and we are ready to respond to local authorities’ needs. With our local authority partners we have helped turn around this idea in less than two weeks and it’s great to work with a government that listens and engages so actively.
It’s clear that people across Scotland want to do the right thing during this Covid-19 crisis. They want to look after their physical and mental health. They also want to make sure that they are keeping to physical distancing guidelines while still being safe on our streets. The ‘Spaces for People’ programme will allow that.”