As the world ground to a halt in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, this talk tells the story of how Scottish Government funding was made available for local authorities, and administered by Sustrans, to make effective temporary changes to our public spaces and infrastructure in order to get us moving again in a safe and healthy manner.
As the Covid-19 pandemic started in March 2020 people, in particular vulnerable people, found themselves with limited options to get out and feel safe outside in the built-environment. Sustrans Scotland would like to tell the story of how we worked quickly to develop a temporary infrastructure programme which offered funding (circa £40m) and specialist support services to local authorities to change streetscapes making it safer for people who choose to walk, cycle or wheel for essential trips and exercise.
The programme granted access to various skillsets, including designers, transport planners, engineers, and communication and engagement professionals, to enable change-makers to implement measures focused on protecting public health and supporting physical distancing.
This programme, and the swift nature of its arrival and the fast mobilisation of the support services, allowed bodies across Scotland to provide temporary walking and cycling infrastructure that enabled safer essential journeys and exercise for everyone, focusing in particular where there was space constraints or user safety concerns. These priorities included journeys to and from hospitals and health services, shops, pharmacies, schools, and for returning workplaces. And the resulting measures included;
- provision of temporary infrastructure for walking, cycling and wheeling (pop-up cycle networks)
- changes to the built environment that supports safe active travel for essential journeys (roll out of 20mph zones)
- rapid delivery to show the shorter timelines for real change is possible (short-circuiting bureaucracy)
- and monitoring and evaluation to support the ongoing assessment and improvement of the changes (the journey to permanence)
Where schemes have been successful Sustrans are encouraging and supporting the evolution to permanent infrastructure, and have developed design guidance to help outline this transition from quick and ready works, to intermediate and more stable solutions, to a permanent change to the streetscape that reimagines how we shape our urban centres and travel corridors.
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