New measures to support physical distancing for people walking and cycling in Glasgow have been unveiled.
Glasgow has been at the forefront of the push for temporary footpaths and cycle ways as a means to thwart the spread of coronavirus, which this week led to the Scottish Government announcing a £10m package of support for such measures.
As an initial step, Kelvin Way will be closed to vehicle traffic from tomorrow (Saturday, May 2) to allow greater space for people undertaking daily exercise in and around Kelvingrove Park. Plans to widen Clyde Street and Broomielaw to ensure pedestrians, cyclists and wheel chair users can be physically distant safely at all times are also at an advanced staged.
Both Kelvin Way and the Clyde Walkway have both been heavily used by people using the current exercise exemption to staying at home and concerns have been expressed about the ability to follow the 2-metre physically distant rule in these places.
But the council also sees additional public space for physical distancing as a key component in the economic recovery of the city. Wider pavements and paths will help to enable safe access to shops and business premises in the city centre.
Other areas with high pedestrian footfall such as Byres Road and Partick, Dennistoun, Shawlands and Maryhill have also been identified as places where the temporary measures can be introduced. Pollok, Drumchapel, Easterhouse and Castlemilk have been earmarked for support also.
Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, sees the additional space for physical distancing as a way to build confidence that the city can emerge from the current crisis.
Councillor Aitken said: “When lockdown begins to ease, it is vital that we do everything we can as a city to keep the coronavirus at bay. We want to ensure that people are confident that they can move safely around the city, and access workplaces, shops, pubs, restaurants and other business when they begin to reopen. This is crucial not only for the health of our citizens, but also the health of our economy.
“Rethinking road space to allow for wider footways will be essential for people accessing businesses, public transport and other facilities, and these types of measures will be an important tool in getting the city up and running again.
“The imminent closure of Kelvin Way and plans to widen footways along Clyde Street and Broomielaw are the shape of things to come and I welcome the funding from the Scottish Government, which will enable us to accelerate these plans.
“We will be looking at communities in all parts of the city to see what measures can be put in place in the weeks and months ahead.”
With lockdown restrictions leading to a significant reduction in vehicle traffic, cycling has become a safer and more popular mode of transport. It is also hoped that the new temporary measures will support recent environmental gains,
Councillor Anna Richardson, City Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction, said: “Once restrictions begin to ease, it is crucial that walking and cycling continue to be safe and convenient modes of transport that are good for health and air quality.
“We have already moved very far in a short space of time on the use of widened footpaths and cycle ways to support physical distancing. We hope these measures will help provide the necessary protection from covid-19 but also lead to other public health benefits.”
The closure of Kelvin Way will be implemented from 00.01 hours on Saturday, May 2.