Temporary travel infrastructure that provides additional public space for walking, wheeling and cycling during COVID-19 has been introduced across Glasgow, with further measures coming soon and ongoing.
Supported by funding from the Scottish Government administered by Sustrans Scotland, Glasgow's Spaces for People programme is seeing short-term measures implemented in our city centre, city neighbourhoods and active travel routes - forming a key part of the city's strategy for economic recovery.
Spaces for People is widening footways at pinch points to facilitate safer pedestrian movement and easier access to shops, businesses, community facilities and public transport hubs. Temporary strategic cycling routes have also been implemented to help present active travel as a convenient and viable choice for essential journeys such as commuting, as well as for physical exercise.
A street-by-street approach has been adopted, with temporary measures introduced to allow priority to be given to pedestrian space around our transport centres, core shopping streets and any identified pedestrian pinch points.
Work completed to date includes footway widening around Glasgow Central Station High and Low Level entrances to provide additional queuing space, as well as footway widening and road closures in and around George Square, including North Hanover Street at Queen St station. A bus/cycle/taxi gate has also been added to George Square (south) and South Frederick St (north), and a bus/cycle/taxi lane on Cochrane Street to speed up journeys and support sustainable transport.
Footway widening around core streets within the city centre was also implemented last year at locations including Hope Street, Union Street and Bath Street as well as Renfield Street and West George Street. Extra space has also been created on Montrose Street to support students.
Following a period of monitoring and review however (January 2021) the footway widening barriers have been removed at the majority of locations apart from around George Square and the train stations. Instead, consideration is being given to the construction of temporary, level surface footways around busier bus stops and the installation of more attractive infrastructure designed to ease pedestrian movement. Work starts soon for example to add decorative planters to areas within the Merchant City that make it easier to maintain physical distancing - with further, similar measures to be publicised on the Spaces for People webpages as soon as possible.
Current initiatives to ease pedestrian movement in the city centre include the installation of temporary bus boarders with the first ones installed on Glassford Street outside Marks and Spencer, and at Trongate next to Tesco Express. This infrastructure extends the footway out into the road, ensuring continued accessibility onto public transport whilst providing extra space for pedestrians at noted pinch points. Additional temporary bus boarders have now also been built out at other locations across the city centre.
We have also implemented traffic light automation in the city centre which removes the need to touch the button to prompt the green man to display. The automated lights will also where appropriate, be set to either minimise pedestrian waiting time or increase the duration the green man is displayed; with both adjustments made where possible.
Full details of temporary city centre projects delivered (and ongoing) can be found here.
This element of the programme seeks to free up pedestrian space where it's most needed such as outside local shops, and has primarily been achieved through the removal of kerbside parking.
We initially widened footways at Easterhouse, Cardonald, Tollcross, Parkhead, Cessnock, Shawlands, Bridgeton, Partick (Dumbarton Rd), Finnieston and Byres Road. Whilst some of the footway widening measures have since been removed following a period of monitoring and review, the infrastructure can be readily reinstated should the need arise. This flexible approach also applies to other areas such as Berryknowes, Cathcart, Croftfoot, Gorbals, Govan, Duke Street, Possilpark, Shettleston and Springburn - with detailed plans already drawn up for these areas which can be mobilised quickly if required.
Schemes that discourage 'through traffic' within areas we know are routinely used as rat-runs, are also in development with the first low traffic neighbourhood currently in progress at Dennistoun. These projects aim to make neighbourhood streets calmer and more people-friendly, and so encourage a greater shift toward active travel.
We have also reconfigured the road layout on Kelvin Way to balance the provision of extra space for walkers, wheelers and cyclists whilst enabling vehicular access into the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum - see Sustrans' video of how locals are enjoying the new space.
Full details of temporary Neighbourhood Space projects already delivered, and ongoing can be found here.
Active Travel Routes:
This workstream looks to create temporary cycling infrastructure that encourages active travel to be considered as an attractive, viable choice for everyday journeys.
So far we have created temporary pop-up cycle lanes at Broomielaw, Dumbreck Road, London Road (Phase 1 and Phase 2), Great Western Road (Duntreath Avenue to Lincoln Avenue), Gorbals Street, Cumbernauld Road, Provanmill Road, Bilsland Drive and Hawthorn Street - with work underway/planned on pop-ups for Brockburn Road, Braidcraft Road, Cambridge Street and Royston Road.
Full details of temporary Active Travel Routes already in place and ongoing can be found here.
School Car Free Zones:
Following a sucessful trial in 2019 that saw significant reductions in traffic around the six primary schools involved, Spaces for People funding has enabled the council to introduce on a temporary basis, a further 20 School Car Free Zones. The zones are designed to prohibit cars and other vehicles from driving up to school gates between 8.30am and 9.15am and then 2.30pm and 3.15pm each weekday, during term time.
More details about the schools involved and the way the scheme operates can be found here.
In the coming weeks we anticipate making further progress in the following areas:
A significant amount of road space was reallocated for walking and wheeling at the start of the pandemic in anticipation of a gradual lessening of restrictions. Given the ongoing COVID-19 limitations however some of these measures were recently removed to allow a focus on delivering temporary infrastructure where it's most needed and to improve its look and feel, with some infrastructure set to be replaced as required with planting, seats and attractive street furniture.
Larger style planters and trees will be used around George Square to green the space as well as restrict vehicle movement. Complimentary work is also expected around St Vincent Place and Queen Street, as well as Merchant City.
Temporary footway widening will remain in situ around our main transport hubs and busier bus stops, however further measures may be needed elsewhere as and when restrictions are anticipated to ease, and footfall starts to increase.
Pop-Up Cycle Lanes:
We are continuing to add new active travel infrastructure, with the implementation of a further 10km of soft segregated cycle lanes. Work is currently underway (or planned) at Brockburn Road, Cambridge Street, Braidcraft Road, Howard Street, Royston Road and Wallacewell Road to improve our active travel offering.
Improved Access to Parks and Open Space:
We will soon be increasing signage within our parks and providing wayfinding on routes to help ease physical distancing. A programme of vegetation clearance to remove obstructions on public footways is also being undertaken.
Increased Pedestrian Priority at Junctions:
An early Spaces for People intervention saw the need for pedestrians to use the push buttons at crossings eliminated to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. This popular measure which is now in operation at over 50 sets of lights is being rolled out more widely throughout the city.
Our first low traffic (or quieter) neighbourhood is being progressed at Dennistoun to encourage active travel through the provsion of additional space. Several more schemes across the city are currently under consideration.
Future Work and Evaluation:
As we emerge from the pandemic, we will look to maintain temporary Spaces for People measures during their transition to permanence or prior to their removal. This follows on from a commitment made by the council last June that all SFP measures will be evaluated with the view of making them permanent, following consultation and before any relevant Temporary Traffic Regulation Order(s) expire. To this end, the council will work with Sustrans to agree a monitoring and review process and thereafter to appoint an independent consultant to carry out a review of the infrastructure delivered and make recommendations on which measures should be made permanent. It is proposed that this review would take place from April/May onwards and a report presented to Committee for decision thereafter.
In collaboration with Sustrans Scotland, we made available a Commonplace Mapping Tool which enabled users to highlight 'pinch points' across the city centre and neighbourhoods, where emergency temporary measures such as pavement widening and new cycle lanes could be introduced to help people maintain physical distancing and suppress a resurgence of the virus.
The platform closed on 10 July 2020 after being open for suggestions for several weeks.
Over 16,000 contributions were received and have been used to inform future Spaces for People plans, with temporary interventions prioritised that offer the greatest benefit to public health, balances the needs of all users, and can be delivered in a short timeframe.
Examples of projects that were taken forward (in whole or in part) due to suggestions made on Commonplace include the segregated cycle lanes on Clarence Drive, additional cycle parking in the city centre and the addition of a segregated cycle lane within Kelvin Way which has been closed to vehicular traffic since May 2020.
Every effort will be made to ensure the needs of disabled people are fully considered in the planning and delivery of Spaces for People measures, and the project team will endeavour to ensure that these reflect the considerations identified in the recent briefing paper issued by the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland (MACS) as well as taking existing guidance into account in their design.