To help suppress the spread of COVID-19, we have been introducing temporary measures across the city to provide additional space for walking, wheeling and cycling.
We have widened footways at pinch points in our city centre and neighbourhoods to facilitate safer pedestrian movement and easier access to shops, businesses, community facilities and public transport hubs. Temporary strategic cycling routes that highlight active travel as an attractive, viable choice for essential journeys as well as exercise, have also been implemented.
Schemes to create 'people friendly streets' within areas we know are routinely used as rat-runs, are in development with the first such project now complete at Dennistoun. These projects aim to make neighbourhood streets calmer, provide additional pedestrian space and so encourage walking, wheeling and cycling.
We have also expanded the number of School Car Free Zones. These 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; leaving extra space for walking, wheeling and cycling.
This Spring (2021), 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. Locations where work is either underway or completed this Spring are Brockburn Road, Cambridge Street, Braidcraft Road, Howard Street, Royston Road and Wallacewell Road.
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 project of this type has been completed at Dennistoun, with further schemes 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 these will be 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.
Transport Scotland's Spaces for People programme, administered by Sustrans Scotland, offered 100% funding to put in place temporary measures to enable physical distancing while walking, wheeling and cycling.
Last year, the council was awarded £7.5m in total in grant funding to be used as the prevailing COVID-19 conditions require/allow to expand, enhance and maintain initiatives that support physical distancing in public places.
Spaces for People measures are being implemented so that everyone can walk, wheel and cycle around their local area safely whilst keeping to physical distancing requirements.
To manage how our roads are used, the council ordinarily use Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs) - a lengthy process that requires public consultation. The Scottish Government has however identified COVID-19 as a danger to the public and as such is one of those circumstances where local authorities can use temporary Traffic Regulation Orders (TTROs) to introduce temporary measures.
TTROs require no prior consultation and are relatively flexible so there is the potential for the council to assess and put in place temporary measures relatively quickly and responsively.
Sustrans has teamed up with Transport Scotland, Public Health Scotland, the Mobility and Access Committee for Scotland and various active travel organisations in Scotland, to provide a summary of things to consider when walking, cycling and wheeling during Covid-19:
Be safe - Look after yourself and those in your care
Be smart - Stay in your local area and plan ahead
Find out more here.