Transport Scotland has now allocated £38.97 millionto local authorities for pop-up walking and cycling infrastructure through the Spaces for People initiative.
All remaining applications have now been assessed to help enable physical distancing during the COVID-19 crisis, through measures such as widened pavements and temporary cycle lanes. The initiative is supporting physical distancing when walking and wheeling, and also the rapid increase in cycling rates.
Transport Scotland said attention has now returned to permanent active travel infrastructure in the country, both in terms of new schemes and, where appropriate, building on this temporary infrastructure. These permanent schemes are also funded by the Scottish Government and delivered by Sustrans through their Places for Everyone programme. To further support local authorities to build permanent active travel infrastructure – the Scottish Government is reducing the match funding rate for the Places for Everyone programme from 50% to 30%.
This means that any application to the programme will now be 70% funded by the Scottish Government in order to support a green recovery and help build an Active Nation.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “To support our green recovery and keep people walking, wheeling and cycling, we’ve reduced the amount that local authorities need to contribute towards permanent infrastructure across Scotland.
“The Places for Everyone initiative is already producing some very innovative and ambitious projects – but we recognise that costs can be prohibitive for some councils and especially in the context of COVID-19.
“Many local authorities are keen to learn lessons from the temporary infrastructure delivered through the nearly £39 million we have provided. With this improved funding offer for permanent schemes, councils will be able to match their insight with their ambition and deliver high quality infrastructure to help us build an Active Nation and encourage healthier and more sustainable travel.”
Councillor Steven Heddle, COSLA’s Environment and Economy Spokesperson said: “The uptake of Spaces for People funding among councils has shown the extent of Local Government’s commitment to enable people to move safely using active travel modes.
“We now welcome the reduced match funding rate for the Places for Everyone programme. Where 20/21 budgets allow, it can incentivise local authorities, working closely with their local communities, to explore ways to ‘lock in’ the benefits of the rise in walking, wheeling and cycling we have seen recently. Local Government will play a key role in the nation’s green recovery and strive for active and sustainable travel to be at its very heart.”
John Lauder, Deputy CEO of Sustrans and Executive Director for Scotland said: “The huge interest and demand in our Spaces for People fund over the past few months, has made it clear that people recognise the importance and benefits which come with travelling actively and sustainably for everyday journeys and exercise. However, we also know that perceptions of safety, and the lack of choices for quiet or traffic-free walking and cycling routes to key destinations, is a key barrier to people considering a viable alternative to their car.
“We hope that the reduction in the match funding requirement for our Places for Everyone programme will now make it even easier for applicants to design and build infrastructure which makes it easier and safer for more people to walk, cycle and wheel for everyday journeys, to help deliver a healthier, fairer and more prosperous Scotland for everyone.”