More safe spaces to move around in our towns

Fife Council has been given £2.4m to develop socially distanced spaces for people as towns emerge from lockdown.

The funding came from a £30m Scottish Government pot which aimed to create temporary walking and cycling routes.

The moves are also meant to help manage demand for use of public transport.

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Sustrans Scotland allocated the funds on behalf of the Government, and offered 100% backing to councils to put measures in place.

John Lauder, deputy chief executive, said such measures were necessary to ensure people could move around in safety as more and more businesses returned to normal working after lockdown.

He added: “The fast pace of delivery and the quick uptake by local authorities and other statutory bodies in utilising the Spaces for People funding is testament to the appetite in Scotland to make walking, wheeling and cycling as safe as possible.

“In the future, we would recommend that all the great projects funded by Spaces for People like widened pavements, segregated cycle lanes, 20mph limits and vegetation being cut back to reclaim existing pavements be made permanent to give people the space they need and lock in the benefits of travelling actively.”

The project was also welcomed by Michael Mathieson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity.

He said: “From the outset, this programme was all about pace, urgency and protecting public health – creating space to enable people to walk, cycle and wheel whilst physically distancing.

“At the same time, however, it has provided an opportunity to reimagine and indeed experience our towns and cities as places not dominated by cars but by people.

“The steps local authorities have taken in our towns and cities have been ambitious and widely welcomed – and I’m confident will re-energise demand for permanent active travel infrastructure as we think collectively about Scotland’s green recovery.

“To support this, we will continue to provide funding through our Places for Everyone initiative for high quality permanent infrastructure and place-making and consider how we can support additional Spaces for People bids already in the pipeline.

“Walking, wheeling and cycling protects our climate, improves our air quality and brings profound benefits to our physical and mental health. In terms of our COVID-19 response, active travel is a critical component in helping to manage demand on our public transport network. “

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