Transport Scotland considering further £8.6m funding for active travel

Transport Scotland is considering repurposing a final amount of funding from its active travel budget for additional bids amounting to just over £8.6 million, after the previous £30 million it provided through the Spaces for People initiative has now been fully allocated.

On July 10th, Sustrans Scotland had awarded a total of £29,603,681 to local authorities and statutory bodies through the Spaces for People programme on behalf of the Scottish Government.

The 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. It also provided applicants with guidance on the use of legislation to allow delivery at rapid pace – in addition to specialist advice from the Scottish Government and Sustrans on topics including construction, public health, equalities and communications to support urgent implementation.

Scotland’s towns and cities are now facilitating temporary active travel infrastructure, supporting a rapid increase in cycling rates and to create space on pavements due to physical distancing requirements. By doing so, we also support the conditions to encourage greater rates of walking, wheeling and cycling in the future – which in turn helps to manage demand on our public transport network.

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “I’m very encouraged by the demand for Spaces for People funding that we’ve seen right across Scotland and I’m grateful to Sustrans Scotland for their support.

“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. We will continue to support the positive increases we have seen across the country as we continue to build an Active Nation.”

John Lauder, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Sustrans and Executive Director for Scotland said: “Giving people safe space in which to physically distance while they get about their day by walking, wheeling and cycling is vitally important as we look to normalise the increasing rate of people travelling actively.

“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.”

Lee Craigie, Active Nation Commissioner for Scotland said: “The take up of Spaces for People funding by local authorities across the country has surprised us all. Quieter roads during lockdown opened many people’s eyes to the value of streets that are enjoyable to walk, cycle or wheel on.

“Spaces for People is giving all regions the opportunity to trial temporary changes to our streets, encouraging active behaviours by making them safer and more pleasant to use.” 

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