Spaces for People

Funding to enable walking, wheeling and cycling during the pandemic

A sign above a pedestrian crossing control box advising that the crossing has been automated
Pedestrian crossings adjusted for hands-free/automatic operation in Edinburgh during the Covid pandemic.

The Programme

Spaces for People is a temporary infrastructure programme which offered funding and support to make it safer for people who choose to walk, cycle or wheel for essential trips and exercise during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Funded by the Scottish Government and managed by Sustrans Scotland, the programme to enabled statutory bodies to introduce measures focused on protecting public health, supporting physical distancing and a reduction of virus transmission.

Walking, wheeling or cycling in fresh air is not only positive for physical and metal health, but also helps people feel connected in times of isolation, and can allow communities discover their neighbourhood.

As of July 2020, all Spaces for People funding was allocated. Local authorities and statutory bodies are expected to have held funding for maintenance, removal of measures or to make measures permanent.  

Sustrans publishes evaluation of temporary active travel programme

The findings of a comprehensive analysis of the temporary active travel fund, Spaces for People, will be published today by the Sustrans research and monitoring unit.

Two people walk along a road

Why is Spaces for People important for health and wellbeing?

A briefing prepared for Sustrans by Ali MacDonald, Organisational Lead for Active, Healthy Environments, Public Health Scotland

A road sign placed beside a cyclelane and widened pavement encourages physical distancing=

Spaces for People Design Guidance

Guidance to support partners with the implementation of temporary active travel facilities through Spaces for People

Our Support

A total of £38 million was distributed to local authorities, NHS Trusts and one regional transport partnership in 2020, along with additional support from our engineers, designers and support staff as requested. A full list of bodies which have received Spaces for People funding can be found below. Sustrans is continuing to support delivery of additional measures across Scotland until May 2021.

Some local authorities have identified individual measures which they believe provide a high net benefit to the local community, and have requested guidance on how temporary projects can be made permanent. Working with Transport Scotland, we have created the guidance document A Route Map To Permanence. This outlines the considerations needed where there is ambition to turn Spaces for People measures into permanent infrastructure, including public consultations, statutory requirements and upgrade of temporary or semi-permanent measures to ensure longevity.

If you have feedback on a specific Spaces for People measure or wish to see a measure considered for permanence, please contact your local authority, transport board or NHS trust directly.

Knowledge Sharing

Updates on Spaces for People knowledge sharing events highlighting best engagement and delivery practices and engaging discussions with Scottish local authorities.

Examples from local authorities

Primary examples of local authority Spaces For People projects, highlighting the most informative cases of temporary infrastructure delivery.


Lead OrganisationAward Amount
Glasgow City Council£7,100,000
City of Edinburgh Council£5,000,000
Dundee City Council£2,460,000
Fife Council£2,420,000
The Highland Council£1,968,560
Aberdeen City Council£1,760,000
East Lothian Council£1,400,000
Perth and Kinross Council£1,353,000
South Lanarkshire Council£1,200,000
Scottish Borders Council£1,200,000
North Lanarkshire Council£1,066,978
East Renfrewshire Council£1,030,000
Argyll & Bute Council£915,000
NHS Grampian£817,500
Angus Council£788,958
West Dunbartonshire Council£720,000
Renfrewshire Council£695,000
West Lothian Council£641,500
Dumfries and Galloway Council£595,000
Inverclyde Council£585,000
East Ayrshire Council£555,000
Stirling Council£513,000
South Ayrshire Council£510,000
Moray Council£500,000
North Ayrshire Council£400,000
Clackmannanshire Council£367,000
Aberdeenshire Council£310,000
NHS Lanarkshire£210,000
Midlothian Council£190,822
Falkirk Council£190,000
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar£128,850
NHS Lothian£90,000

Read the Reports

The findings of a comprehensive analysis of the temporary active travel fund, Spaces for People, have been published by the Sustrans research and monitoring unit.

The reports released provide insights on the extent to which Spaces for People achieved its overall aims as well as how those with protected characteristics were impacted by the programme.

Members of the public using temporary ramps

Assessment Criteria

All Spaces for People applications were assessed against the following criteria:

Protecting public health

Projects should provide temporary walking and cycling infrastructure that helps to protect public health by enabling safe physical distancing for essential journeys and exercise for everyone, in particular where there are space constraints or user safety concerns.

Essential journeys

Projects should focus on essential journeys including:

  • Journeys to and from hospitals and health services.
  • Journeys to shops, pharmacies and schools for key workers.
  • Journeys for recommended exercise, for example neighbourhoods and local parks.

Immediate delivery

Projects should be delivered quickly and provide a visible improvement that has an immediate benefit.

People walk along a street where pavements have been widened using bollards
Pavement widening measures in North Berwick