A WIDE-ranging physical distancing plan for Glasgow City Centre has been approved including cutting on-street parking spaces by a third and bringing forward George Square pedestrianisation.
Around 25 kilometres of road space will be used to provide wider footways to help combat the spread of Covid-19.
The temporary measures are intended to support economic recovery by creating safe public spaces for businesses and their customers but also to promote active travel in the longer term.
Many city centre streets will be affected under the Spaces for People programme, including St Vincent Street, Argyle Street, Queen Street, Hope Street, Renfield Street and Bath Street.
There will be a short-term suspension of more than 600 of the city centre’s 2,000 on-street parking spaces.
But the council points out there should be sufficient space to park for those wishing to use the car to get into town as it is rare for more than half the 12,000 spaces in city centre car parks to be occupied.
There will be no reduction in the number of disabled parking bays in the city centre.
Plans are also being drawn up to create park and stride and park and cycle facilities at satellite car parks in different parts of the city.
As well as the city centre, Spaces for People will see the introduction of temporary travel infrastructure in city neighbourhoods and on active travel routes.
Footways will be widened at pinch points and also to create easier access to community facilities and public transport hubs.
Temporary strategic cycling routes are also being considered, which will highlight cycling as an attractive, viable commuting choice.
Susan Aitken, council leader and city convener for inclusive economic growth, said: “The easing of the pandemic lockdown means that re-purposing our streets is not just an ambition but a matter of urgency. People need the safe space and confidence to observe physical distancing, get on with their lives and accelerate our recovery. We must respond to that need now.
“We have recently been awarded £3.5million from Sustrans to help support this. From reconfiguring our roads and footways to provide extra space for pedestrians, mobility and wheelchair users, to the creation of temporary cycle lanes; different combinations will be considered to fit the needs and characters of different neighbourhoods, as well as our city centre.
“This funding pot has recently been increased and so we’ll bid for further funding in the near future. The need for space is widespread and immediate. Safer streets are about restoring confidence, vibrancy, prosperity. They’re also about saving lives.”
Other measures under consideration for the city centre include increasing the time the green man is displayed at junctions or reducing the traffic light cycle times to aid pedestrians.
A possible trial of a dispensation for e-scooters in the city centre is also being explored while additional on street cycle parking will be installed where space is available.
Longer term, and once restrictions begin to ease, it is hoped that walking and cycling will continue to be considered a safe and convenient mode of transport that benefits health and air quality.
Councillor Anna Richardson, city convener for sustainability and carbon reduction, said:
“The plans for the city centre are a key part of the Spaces for People measures. Spaces for People is about making it safe for people to get about, both in terms of public health and road safety.
“Lockdown has clearly had impact on people’s choices with more people walking and cycling than before. Spaces for People gives us a chance to nurture those choices, encouraging people to keep with active travel and helping to maintain physical distancing as a way to guard against a resurgence of the virus.”
There will be a programme of publicity and engagement to raise awareness of the temporary travel infrastructure changes. Dedicated webpages have been set up at www.glasgow.gov.uk/spacesforpeople and as the programme is rolled out, more detail will be made available including how to engage with the process.