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Scottish Government announces £10m fund for bike lanes and footpaths

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Scottish Government announces £10m fund for bike lanes and footpaths

Transport minister Michael Matheson says he hopes it will make it easier for people to exercise and travel whilst practising distancing and avoiding traffic

The Scottish Government has announced a £10m fund for widening walkways and installing pop-up bike lanes to make exercising safer during lockdown.

Transport Minister Michael Matheson said that he hopes the measures, fully-funded by the government, will make it easier for people to exercise and travel whilst practicing distancing and avoiding traffic.

The walking and cycling charity Sustrans will administer the funding to councils through the Places for Everyone scheme.

Matheson made the announcement in a statement to parliament on the impact the coronavirus lockdown is having on the transport system.

Car travel is down by 75 per cent, and cycling has increased by eight per cent, according to Transport Scotland figures.

Accident and emergency departments have also seen an increase in the number of people coming in with injuries from accidents associated with cycling, which led Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith to urge road users to be more careful.

On Monday Smith said: “As an example, there are more people using cycling as a way of travelling just now, and if I can make a plea to all road users — whether on a bike or in a car – to be especially mindful of each other on the roads.”

Announcing the funding, Matheson told MSPs: “I’m pleased we are able to put forward a package of support for our local authorities to implement temporary active travel measures, helping to ensure that people can walk, cycle and wheel during this public health emergency whilst physically distancing and keeping safe from traffic.

He added: “For our air quality, climate, health and particularly for our mental wellbeing at this time, walking and cycling remain our most beneficial form of transport.

“We should all be encouraged by the increases we are seeing in cycling and this government will do what it can to continue to support this through our recovery and beyond.”

Sustrans Scotland Deputy CEO John Lauder said: “We welcome the Scottish Government’s package of support and we are ready to respond to local authorities’ needs through our Spaces for People fund.

"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.

"With our local authority partners we have helped turn around this idea in less than two weeks and it’s great to work with a government that listens and engages so actively.

“We look forward to being able to support partners to help make essential travel and exercise safer during Coronavirus.”

Read the most recent article written by Ailean Beaton - Scotland enters first phase of lockdown easing plan

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