£10 million to support pop-up active travel infrastructure in Scotland
Posted: 29 April 2020 | Sam Mehmet (Intelligent Transport)
£10 million is being reallocated from an annual active infrastructure initiative so that participating local authorities do not have to match funding and can promote physical distancing with fast, pop-up solutions.
To better enable physical distancing, the Scottish government has announced that it will fully fund a new active infrastructure programme for pop-up walking and cycling routes or temporary improvements to existing routes. This 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.
Every year, Transport Scotland and Sustrans Scotland run the ‘Places for Everyone’ active travel infrastructure initiative – and they have stated that they know the impact of COVID–19 means local authorities will not 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.
Following a statement to the Scottish Parliament confirming the measures, 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.
“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. I want to give my thanks to them – please know your efforts are incredibly valued.
“For our air quality, climate, health and particularly for our mental wellbeing at this time, walking and cycling remain our most beneficial form of transport. We should all be encouraged by the increases we are seeing in cycling and this government will do what it can to continue to support this through our recovery and beyond.”