North-east councils will spend £2 million on making streets safer for people when lockdown restrictions are lifted.
Pavements will be widened so that pedestrians can pass one another at a sufficient distance, and traffic will be banned from some central roads under the plans.
The Scottish Government’s Spaces for People fund was announced last month, and £30m has been made available to councils to cover the costs of making sure people can walk, cycle and get about safely as the nation emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.
Work in Aberdeen will commence on Saturday, after the city council was awarded a £1.76m grant from the fund earlier this week.
Created in partnership with the NHS and other bodies such as the police and the Disability Equity Partnership, the council’s plan for Aberdeen involves major changes to how people travel in the city.
Traffic around the city centre will be re-routed to free up carriageway space for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users.
Many areas around the heart of the Granite City have pavements that are not wide enough to accommodate two-metre physical distancing requirements, such as on Union Street, and so pavements in certain areas will be expanded.
Because the works are temporary, the changes to roads and pavements will be marked out with temporary barriers, signs, and paint in some areas.
Councillor Jenny Laing, co-leader of the city council, said: “The temporary active travel measures will help to help to look after health and wellbeing needs of residents to allow people walk and cycle during this public health emergency – whilst physically distancing and keeping safe from traffic.
“These temporary interventions will also allow people to move safely around the city centre which will help to start the social and economic recovery of the city and the wider region.”
Changes will also be coming to areas outwith the city centre such as Torry, Peterculter and Cults.
Meanwhile Aberdeenshire Council has put in an initial £310,000 application to the Spaces for People fund.
Immediate priority is being given to implementing changes in the centres of Banchory, Ellon, Fraserburgh, Inverurie, Peterhead and Stonehaven.
Temporary measures coming to these communities include wider pavements, waiting restrictions, road restrictions and closures, and the reduction of speed limits.
Ewan Wallace, head of transportation for the council, said: “The priority will be to ensure people are able to access our town centres safely while adhering to physical distancing guidelines.
“In particular, officers are looking at interventions that can be applied to main town centres to ensure that there is sufficient space to allow for queueing at shops and bus stops whilst maintaining passage by pedestrians with physical distancing.”