Cars could be banned from the centre of Aberdeen to free up space for pedestrians and cyclists once lockdown is lifted, while “one-way walking systems” are rolled out across the city.
Though Nicola Sturgeon is expected to begin easing restrictions in Scotland within the coming weeks and months, it is thought that social distancing guidelines will remain in force for some time to come.
The Scottish Government recently unveiled the £10 million Space For People fund, to allow councils to adapt towns and cities so that people can maintain a safe distance from one another when they are able to get out and about again.
We have submitted a bid to the Spaces for People fund. If successful, towns across Highland & the city of #Inverness will see a roll-out of temporary walking, wheeling & cycling infrastructure over coming weeks & months. https://t.co/aauqTXP91o
— The Highland Council (@HighlandCouncil) May 15, 2020
Last week, Highland Council applied for a £600,000 share of the cash to make certain changes.
Aberdeen City Council today confirmed that it had made a similar approach – with Union Street identified as a particular area of concern.
In a future where people will have to remain apart to prevent the spread of infection, the city centre would pose certain dangers due to the narrow pavements in the area.
The city council has now tabled an application for cash to put “pop-up” travel infrastructure in place.
If successful, the authority will roll out of temporary measures to allow people to walk, cycle, and queue for buses while adhering to social distancing guidance.
Measures include widening pavements, putting temporary bike lanes in place, and rolling out one-way walking systems across the entire city.
And traffic would be re-routed around the centre to free up carriageway space for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users to get abour.
Council co-leader, Jenny Laing, said the “immediate need” to allow people to move safely around the city was “central to this bid”.
She added: “External funding from the Scottish Government is crucial if we are to be ready to respond to the lifting of the lockdown and play our role in helping the country recover.”
The bid comes after the Aberdeen Cycle Forum wrote to councillors with a list of ideas on how the money could best be used.
The groups’s Rachel Martin last night said the bid looked “promising”.
She said: “Highland Council is planning a huge shake-up of their infrastructure. It is very ambitious.
“The roads are quieter now and extra effort should now be put into improving people’s health and reducing pollution.”
A suggestion on Aberdeen Cycle Forum’s list is entitled “make existing pedestrianised streets work”, and involves improving streets such as Belmont Street, Little Belmont Street and Loch Street.
Mrs Martin added: “We should be making the most of this funding and thinking about changes for the future.”