Highland Council delivering safe walking and cycling routes in response to Coronavirus pandemic
Following a successful award of £752,954 from Scottish Government’s Spaces for People fund, The Highland Council is now delivering the first in a series of active travel interventions across Highland in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The coming weeks and months will see streets across Highland giving more space to people walking, wheeling and cycling. This will make it possible for people to physically distance and get to key destinations using healthier travel modes.
Strong public support for the interventions continues, with 77% of comments submitted through the consultation portal (available online here) agreeing with the interventions proposed. Early engagement has been undertaken with Stagecoach, Inverness Business Improvement District and other key stakeholders. Feedback from these parties has raised some concerns, but also some support, recognising the need to ensure people can physically distance to combat the current pandemic crisis. Officers are working hard investigating options for these more complex routes, based on the feedback received. Simpler interventions, like upgrading paths into Raigmore Hospital and removing active travel pinch points, are either being delivered or are about to commence, with some simply awaiting delivery of materials.
Head of Infrastructure, Colin Howell said: “We are now moving rapidly into the implementation stage. It is crucial that we keep momentum to maximise the public health benefits of this project. We recognise there are some concerns and, as we begin to roll-out measures, we encourage people to continue to comment using the consultation portal. It is very common for changes in traffic management to create issues in the initial days after implementation but, as people get used to them and adjust their travel behaviour, these issues normally settle down. Therefore, we ask that people are patient and understand the public health reasons behind these interventions.”
Provost of the City of Inverness, Cllr Helen Carmichael said: “We are grateful to the stakeholders that have engaged with us so far in this essential project and I encourage others to go online and have their say. It is important that people recognise these measures are being put in place to protect public health, which must be the priority in this crisis. We’re taking bold steps to create a fair share of street space for people walking, wheeling and cycling and as such, this project forms an essential component in the post-covid recovery and regeneration of Inverness.”
Councillor Trish Robertson, Chair of The Highland Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Committee said: “It is fundamental that communities and workers can move around using active travel and that we create safe ways for people to maintain physical distancing. The temporary measures being delivered are flexible so, by continuing our online conversation, we can monitor and respond to any issues that emerge during this rapidly evolving situation. As we transition out of lockdown, we all emerge with a different understanding and appreciation of space. I hope that we can learn from this experience and make walking, wheeling and cycling a bigger part of our everyday travel, which will have multiple other benefits to our health, climate and air quality, not to mention reducing congestion.”
To take part in the on-line consultation, people are asked to use the link on the Council’s website hoimepage https://consult.highland.gov.uk/kse/