City Administration Committee today voted in favour for the majority of Glasgow’s Spaces for People measures to become permanent, following consideration of an independent review which highlighted that much of the infrastructure can deliver lasting benefits including encouraging active travel and their potential to contribute towards meeting our wider sustainability goals.

Introduced at the start of COVID-19 to suppress the spread of the virus and help manage demand on public transport, Spaces for People delivered a significant number of temporary travel interventions across the city to ease physical distancing in public places, predominantly through the provision of widened footways, road closures and segregated cycle lanes.

Whilst Spaces for People measures made it easier to stay a safe distance from others, much of the infrastructure also increases the viability and appeal of walking, wheeling and cycling for everyday journeys, and therefore if kept could contribute to the prioritisation of sustainable transport across the city.  An independent review was therefore commissioned earlier this year to look at whether to retain or remove measures.

Key report recommendations that will now be taken forward include:

  • The permanent retention of all Spaces for People segregated cycle lanes which offer around 40km of additional dedicated cycling space
  • To keep footway widening measures and urban greening around George Square and Merchant City, as well as infrastructure that supports physical distancing around city centre transport hubs and bus stops
  • That the ‘People Friendly Streets’ measures at Dennistoun, Shawlands and Pollokshields East should be made permanent
  • The removal of all footway widening measures within city neighbourhoods, except for the road closure and associated infrastructure on Kelvin Way

In undertaking the analysis, cycle count data was considered, as was the outcomes of a consultation which received 3,749 responses and showed a ‘strong skew’ towards the retention of all measures.

There was also an assessment of how interventions ally with existing active travel and sustainability goals.  Future schemes not yet delivered which are expected to support similar strategic aims were also factored into the independent assessment, alongside a consideration of our core paths network.

External considerations also formed part of the analysis process – an example of which is the recommendation to remove physical distancing measures on Gordon Street to avoid adversely impacting upon the accessibility of public transport provision, to and from Central Station.

Councillor Anna Richardson, City Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction said: “I am absolutely delighted that further to the independent review, the majority of Spaces for People measures will now go on to become permanent infrastructure, encouraging even greater numbers of us to walk, wheel and cycle as a means of getting around.

“These schemes were introduced at pace and at the height of the pandemic to support physical distancing however it’s clear that they have proved popular and if made permanent can offer longer-term strategic benefits to our transport network as well as being advantageous to our health and wellbeing, and to the environment.

“I look forward to seeing progress in the coming months to advance these measures to permanency.”

Measures approved to become permanent will in most instances be undertaken by the promotion of a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) – a statutory process which provides an opportunity for further engagement, alongside public advertisement of the Orders.  Those measures not recommended for retention will be removed over the coming weeks, with equipment repurposed across the city as required.

Funding of £799,000 has been secured from the Scottish Government’s Spaces for People programme (administered by Sustrans Scotland), for the work required to either make measures permanent or to remove them.

The committee paper and independent analysis report can be found here.