Safer sustainable travel in Fife as council creates more spaces for people

Fife Council is developing temporary infrastructure to make it safer for people to walk, cycle or wheel for essential trips and exercise during the Covid-19 outbreak, and as lockdown is eased. This is following a successful bid for £2.42million to the Scottish Government's 'Spaces for People' fund, managed by Sustrans, which is focused on making essential travel and exercise safer.

The proposals are still being developed and will be shared more widely before being put in place. The council is keen to hear from communities regarding the use of its public spaces whilst the government's restrictions are in place, and will work with local councillors, business associations, business representatives, communities, bus operators and emergency services.

The Spaces for People infrastructure programme in Fife will mean extra pedestrian space, widened footpaths for access to public transport, pop-up cycle tracks and routes, speed reduction measures, behaviour change promotion to promote walking and cycling, adjustments to traffic signals, traffic priority and filtering systems.

Now that funding is secured, design work is advancing, with short term travel infrastructure to be implemented by the end of July.  More complex measures will be delivered in August and September.  A simple initial scheme which helped to promote social distancing has been carried out in Elie High Street, with traffic cones installed to close off a couple of Parking  Bays, following requests from the local community.

Council teams will monitor the agreed measures put in place and will adjust them as the lockdown restrictions are relaxed further.

Convener of Fife Council's Economy, Tourism, Strategic Planning and Transportation Committee, Cllr Altany Craik, said: “Economic recovery is at the forefront of the Spaces for People programme and the funding will provide essential measures to protect public health and support physical distancing.

“In Fife, more people are cycling as the number of car journeys have declined over recent months. The changes being introduced will enable Fifers to move around sustainable, freely and safely. We want to help Fifers look after their physical and mental health while still being safe on our streets.

“This funding award was made in consultation with local councillors to ensure that local priorities and needs are recognised.

“The council is also encouraging people to safely access services in town centres while maintaining physical distancing. We are committed to creating additional spaces for pedestrians so that they can physically distance for the foreseeable future.”

Temporary Spaces for People funded programmes are being progressed for: Anstruther, Burntisland, Crail, Cupar, Dunfermline, Elie, Glenrothes, High Valleyfield, Inverkeithing, Kirkcaldy, Leslie, Leven, Lumphinnans, Methil, Oakley, Rosyth, Saline, St Andrews and Windygates. Promotional campaigns encouraging active and sustainable travel and responsible use of shared paths and roads will also be undertaken on a Fife-wide basis.

Karen McGregor, Director of Sustrans Scotland, said: “It’s clear that people across Scotland want to do the right thing during Coronavirus. They want to look after their physical and mental health.

“They also want to make sure that they are keeping to physical distancing guidelines while still being safe on our streets.

“Providing funding support to Fife Council through our Spaces for People programme will make it easier and safer for people to travel around Fife as we transition out of lockdown.”