‘Lockdown is time to create healthier towns and cities’

The Scottish Greens want the government to 'seize the opportunity' to improve air quality and reduce congestion.

‘Lockdown is time to create healthier towns and cities’ Pixabay
Cycling: Transport secretary Michael Matheson is being urged to 'seize the opportunity' to reduce congestion.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson has been urged to “seize the opportunity” to improve air quality and reduce congestion in towns and cities.

The Scottish Greens said the increase in walking and cycling during the coronavirus lockdown shows why built-up areas need wider pavements and segregated bike lanes.

Matheson is due to give a statement regarding transport during the Covid-19 outbreak to the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday afternoon.

Greens transport spokesman John Finnie MSP said action should be taken immediately.

“The response to the coronavirus emergency has changed how we go about our daily lives,” he said.

‘Streets that were once choking with cars are now largely empty and more and more families are taking their daily exercise or trip to the shop by bike or on foot.’

Greens transport spokesman John Finnie MSP

“Streets that were once choking with cars are now largely empty and more and more families are taking their daily exercise or trip to the shop by bike or on foot.

“I urge the Scottish Government to work with councils to take action now to widen pavements and ensure that people feel they can walk safely, ensuring necessary social distancing measures can be maintained.”

He added: “Implementing temporary segregated cycle routes would provide people with confidence that they can cycle safely, away from traffic, and it would provide key workers with easy and fast routes to get to work.”

“This change in how we travel has obviously come about as a result of a national crisis, but the benefits of lower levels of air pollution are clear for all to see and we should not let that go as we begin to ease the lockdown measures in the weeks and months to come.

“Safer walking and cycling routes benefit everyone’s health, they are good for the economy and ensure that traffic is kept to a minimum in built-up areas.

“The Scottish Government must seize this opportunity to build healthier towns and cities now.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “As the cabinet secretary has confirmed, we are already in discussions with Sustrans Scotland in terms of how we could help support local authorities to reallocate road space on a temporary basis to enable physical distancing for active travel – whether that be key workers travelling to work, people going to the shops for essential items or taking their daily exercise.

“We will of course provide a more detailed update as any proposals are developed and inform parliament and key stakeholders at the appropriate time of any significant updates.”