The Spaces for People project was funded by the Scottish Government to create space for social distancing in public places during the Covid-19 pandemic.
When, in March 2020, people were instructed to stay at home to slow the spread of Coronavirus, governments across the UK introduced various interventions to maintain business, tourism, healthcare and education, in response to the changing dynamics of society.
The Scottish Government made available £30m for Councils under the ‘Spaces for People’ project to modify public spaces such as roads and town centres to make it safer and easier for people to walk and cycle for essential trips and exercise. East Lothian secured £1.4m under this scheme to tackle the following broad ambitions:
- slower speeds for quicker recovery - reduce speed limits in our town centres to 20mph to allow more flexible use of our road space; and reduce speed limits on inter-urban routes to 40mph to support cycling between towns for those who cannot drive
- space for shopping - re-locate parking in town centres to create space for queueing (and potentially eating) outside shops
- space for exercise - create an exercise circuit for walking and cycling around each town using traffic calming and improved off-road routes
- provide space at school - localised school interventions to encourage physical distancing and manage private car drop off
- cycle improvements and on-street bike hire - in towns and coastal sites
The lockdown saw a significant increase in cycling and, since it has been lifted, the Scottish Government has been making clear its desire to preserve the features which made this possible.