£10m funding for temporary cycle lanes and walkways

Transport secretary Michael Matheson announced the move on Tuesday.

£10m funding for temporary cycle lanes and walkways Pixabay
Cycling: A new fund was announced on Tuesday.

Councils are being encouraged to create temporary cycle lanes and walkways with a new £10m fund from the Scottish Government.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson said there has been a large increase in walking and cycling since the coronavirus lockdown began.

He announced the cash boost as he updated MSPs on transport issues related to the pandemic on Tuesday.

Capacity on public transport will have to be reduced as long as social distancing measures are in place, he said, at between 10% to 25% of previous levels.

The Spaces for People fund will be used to reallocate road space for active travel – cycling and walking – while some routes may be reclassified.

Matheson said the latest figures show journeys by bicycle are up 35% on the weekly average, while walking has also increased significantly.

Use of cars is down 75% from normal, while demand for public transport has reduced by more than 90%.

On average, people in Scotland are making one journey a day, which is almost entirely reduced to essential trips.

He 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.”

Discussing the reduction in capacity on trains, he told MSPs: “A carriage may only be able to carry a fifth of the normal passenger numbers as they would normally be expected to carry while physical distancing has to be implemented.

“So there are real challenges around being able to manage the demands that may be required on a rail network.”

He said the Scottish Government worked with charity Sustrans while coming up with the fund.

John Lauder, deputy chief executive at Sustrans Scotland, said: “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.”