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Key Learnings from the Spaces for People Reports

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The Spaces for People programme evaluation is split across three primary documents: an evaluation report, an equalities study and a lessons learned document.

Spaces for People Programme Evaluation Report

The Evaluation Report provides key insights into the data that was used to evaluate the impact of the programme.

This includes results from public perception surveys, counts of users at project locations, vehicle speed data, video interaction footage, and spatial analyses.

This data was combined and used to assess the extent to which the programme achieved its outcomes.

Spaces for People Equalities Report

The Equalities Report aimed to better understand how the programme impacted different demographic groups. This report draws on attitudinal surveys and other data from across Scotland to better understand the impact of Spaces for People interventions with regard to the following categories: Disability, Age, Gender, Deprivation.

Spaces for People Lessons Learned Report

The Lessons Learned report provides an opportunity to learn from the rollout of temporary active travel infrastructure on a large scale in Scotland. These lessons are relevant for both Sustrans and partners delivering active travel infrastructure.

Easy read versions are available for each of the reports. British Sign Language versions are also available upon request.

News News & Opinion Project/Department Filtering Spaces for People

Sustrans publishes evaluation of temporary active travel programme

Sustrans is the charity which makes it easier for people to walk, wheel and cycle for more of their everyday journeys.

Supported by Transport Scotland, we provide funding and expertise to help deliver walking, wheeling and cycling improvements across Scotland.

Spaces for People was a flagship Scottish Government programme launched at the start of 2020 early in the COVID-19 pandemic to enable people to make essential journeys and exercise during lockdown.

Funded by the Scottish Government and managed by Sustrans Scotland, the £33 million fund was made available to local authorities and other statutory bodies to introduce temporary infrastructure across Scotland. 

The infrastructure was introduced to protect public health and alleviate the effects of lockdowns. 

Short term measures included widened pavements, pop-up cycle lanes and reduced speed limits.

Prior to Spaces for People interventions, such as temporarily widened footways, people weren’t able to adequate physically distance in many urban settings. Credit: Colin Hattersley/Sustrans, 2020.

These interventions allowed people to physically distance more easily.  

The interventions also helped maintain safe access to essential services such as healthcare, food or education services without using public transport.

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.  

The report also highlights key learnings and recommendations to be taken forward. 

In total, 30 local authorities, 3 NHS trusts and TACTRAN took part in the programme, with each delivering their own projects.

Temporary cycle lanes were installed through the Spaces for People programme in order to create safe links to key destinations such as schools and healthcare sites. Credit: Colin Hattersley, 2020.

Together, this resulted in the implementation of 1,298 interventions in a 2-year period.

This is an unprecedented rate of delivery within the sector. 

Public support

Findings show that walking and cycling increased across Scotland while temporary measures were in place.  

The reports also show that public reception of the programme was generally more positive than negative.

Success of the programme

One of the key successes of the programme is the large number of temporary Spaces for People measures which have contributed to longer-term plans or new active travel projects in the area. 

This includes the closure of the Kelvin Way in Glasgow to motor traffic, and the people-first pedestrianisation of Union Street in Dundee that has benefitted many local businesses in the area. 

Interventions which have served their purpose and are no longer seen as relevant by communities are currently in the process of removal, if not removed already. 

This was the intention of the programme from the outset.

Lessons to be learned

Whilst the broader aims of protecting public health and facilitating essential journeys during the pandemic were largely met, a number of key lessons have been taken from the delivery of the programme.

Lack of availability of materials early in the pandemic meant that local authorities often had to rely on poorer quality and visually unappealing materials, such as traffic cones, to deliver temporary measures.

This was later rectified in some areas through the use of more welcoming fixtures, such as wooden community planters.

Feedback collected by Sustrans also highlighted that improved engagement with disability groups in addressing their concerns could have increased the overall success of the scheme. 

The learnings from the research will now be fed into a process of learning and continuous improvement over the coming months through a series of engagement sessions and workshops with delivery partners. 

“Spaces for People was an emergency response to the global pandemic – across the world, in places like New York, Paris and Berlin, streets were reshaped to meet the big shift in public demand for safer walking, wheeling and cycling.

These welcome reports from Sustrans Scotland show that many of the Scottish schemes have been successful and local authorities are choosing to make them permanent.

At the same time, delivering schemes swiftly and at scale raised issues that we can all learn and build on as we consider new permanent infrastructure.

The active travel landscape has improved much since Spaces for People was first announced.

Funding for active travel is now at record levels and set to increase further in future years, and we will work with partner organisations to ensure that inclusive design and accessibility is embedded in designs from the outset”.

Patrick Harvie, Minister for Active Travel

“Spaces for People was an enormous undertaking during what was an unprecedented time for all of us.”

“We are immensely proud of the successes it has achieved.”

“The temporary measures delivered through the programme ensured people across Scotland could safely distance from one another when making necessary journeys to key workplaces, schools, supermarkets and healthcare sites.”

“We are hugely appreciative of our delivery partners for their tireless work throughout the pandemic to make sure temporary measures were implemented both swiftly and safely.”

“We’d also like to thank Transport Scotland for providing the funding to facilitate the Spaces for People programme.”

Karen McGregor, Scotland Director, Sustrans

“The Spaces for People programme showed the importance of collaboration and communication between the multiple partners responsible for delivering safe and accessible active travel infrastructure in Scotland.” 
“SCOTS and our local authority members have been delighted to support the programme and its evaluation.”

“We look forward to embedding the lessons learned in developing best practice and continuing our collaborative active travel partnerships.” 

Chair of SCOTS, Walter Scott

You can find further information about the programme on our dedicated Spaces for People Showcase webpage, as well as the reports and key learnings below.

Spaces for People Evaluation Report
Spaces for People Evaluation Report (Easy Read)
Spaces for People Evaluation Report (Appendices)
Spaces for People Equalities Report
Spaces for People Equalities Report (Easy Read)
Spaces for People Lessons Learned
Spaces for People Equalities Report (Easy Read)

British Sign Language (BSL) versions of the report executive summaries are available upon request from our Places for Everyone team at

News & Opinion Spaces for People

Spaces for People research resources

Spaces for People is the Scottish Government’s temporary active travel infrastructure programme, administered by Sustrans Scotland. It was launched in May 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 crisis. The programme allocated a total of £33m for active travel infrastructure measures. 34 partners, mostly local authorities, claimed funding through the programme for a range of projects that enabled safe active travel during the pandemic.

It enabled local authorities to install temporary measures to help people on foot, bike or wheels get about safely during the pandemic.

850 measures installed including:

  • 192 Footpath Widening stretching 41.4km
  • 27 Crossing Upgrades
  • 70 Cycle lane (Segregated) stretching 79.4km
  • 14 Cycle lane (Non-segregated) stretching 25.3km
  • 219 Cycle Parking
  • 56 Street Closure stretching 28.9km
  • 24 Street reduction (20mph) zones
  • 30 Speed reduction (Other) stretching 84.1km
  • 168 Vegetation cut back stretching 209km
  • 81 Other measures

Provided below are a range of reports and results from consultations in relation to Spaces for People. Resources are also provided in relation to the broader context of travel during the pandemic. Additional resources are also available on the relevant local authority website.


Argyll & Bute – Spaces for People Engagement Surveys

Argyll & Bute Council asked for the views of the local community on Spaces for People proposals in seven town centres. The survey was open from Thursday 16 July to Sunday 26 July 2020. Reports are available for each of the individual towns included in the survey.

Argyll & Bute – Spaces for People Engagement Surveys

Scottish Borders CitizenSpace Survey responses

During June and July 2020 the public was asked to provide specific suggestions for temporary local schemes which would make it safer for people to walk or cycle for essential trips and exercise during COVID-19. An overview of all comments submitted is available through the below link.

Scottish Borders Citizen Space Survey responses


Visitors to the Commonplace website were able to create their own comments at a specific location, or agree with existing comments by clicking on the thumbs up button. For each comment, at each location, respondents choose from a multiple-choice list of issue(s) relating to social distancing, and a list of potential ways to improve this. They could also add extra information about issues, improvements or suggestions in the ‘other’ section. The platform was open for multiple council areas, and comments are available to review.

A report is also available on the Aberdeen responses. It includes three sections that explore the headline results of the Commonplace consultation for Aberdeen. The first section provides an overview of the whole consultation area. The second section provides a summary of results from three specific areas. The final section summarises who responded to the survey.

Commonplace Platform

Aberdeen City Council – Commonplace Report

East Lothian – Dunbar public engagement results

East Lothian Council conducted a survey to gain feedback on the proposed Spaces for People measures in Dunbar. The local community provided feedback online from the 30th November 2020 to 6th December 2020. This report presents the results and provides an insight into the community’s attitude to different interventions proposed in the local area.

East Lothian – Dunbar public engagement results


Edinburgh City Council

The City of Edinburgh Council (CEC) undertook a six-week public consultation entitled Retaining ‘Spaces for People’ Measures from the 22nd February until 5th April 2021. The survey is intended to give the Council a better understanding of how people feel about retaining the different spaces for people projects that have temporarily been introduced in Edinburgh, during the Covid-19 pandemic. Stantec was appointed to undertake the analysis of the open-ended questions in the public consultation survey. They had surveys on our online consultation hub aimed at residents, businesses and stakeholders. In addition to the consultation, Edinburgh City Council also conducted Market Research. The online questionnaire focused on;

  • how much people supported or opposed keeping the measures from strongly approve to strongly disapprove
  • what people felt were the main benefits or disadvantages of keeping the measures
  • which measures people would especially like to keep or remove.
  • what forms of transport they had used on streets with measures in place
  • how they had travelled around Edinburgh before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Spaces for People Consultation Analysis Open-Ended Questions Reporting

Summary of Business Responses to consultation on possible retention of Spaces for People (SfP) measures: Consultation Hub

Summary of stakeholder and community council responses to consultation on possible retention of Spaces for People measures

Response to individual and business surveys: headline data

City of Edinburgh Council Spaces for People Market Research

Disability Equality Scotland

Each week Disability Equality Scotland send out a poll question to their members on a topical issue. For the week beginning 14 August 2020, they asked two questions about the Spaces for People programme. The questions related to awareness of the measures and any impact on getting around.

Disability Equality Scotland


TACTRAN is the statutory Regional Transport Partnership covering Angus, Dundee City, Perth & Kinross and Stirling. TACTRAN commissioned an attitudinal and behavioural survey to measure the effectiveness of the Spaces for People (SfP) programme in the TACTRAN region. It comprised of ten waves between August 2020 and April 2021. The survey provides in insight to:

  • The frequency participants travelled and mode used for nine different purposes both in the last seven days and hypothetically, if no COVID-19 restrictions were in place. It also included questions about expected future travel over the next month.
  • Participants’ attitude towards different modes of transport. If a respondent reported a negative feeling for a transport mode, they were asked to provide a reason for this opinion. Participants were also asked about their concerns in relation to people spreading the virus while using public or active travel respectively.
  • Participants’ were asked about their awareness of different Spaces for People measures implemented across the four local authority areas. If participants were aware of the measure, they were asked how positively or negatively they felt towards the measure, and the reason for this opinion.
  • Participants also shared information on the time spent walking or cycling for different purposes, such as leisure or commuting and how this had changed since March 2020.

TACTRAN Spaces for People Attitudinal Surveys Wave 10 Report

Traffic Data

Edinburgh City Council

Edinburgh City Council has presented data on cycle volume at locations that have Spaces for People measures.

Supporting Information for report on potential retention of Spaces for People measures: June 2021 Cycle counter data from Counters on Spaces for People routes

Scottish Borders Council Traffic Speed and Volume Dashboard

The Scottish Borders Council have provided a public dashboard presenting the outcome of speed surveys in multiple sites across the region. A comparison between three surveys is available, providing average speed and 85th percentile. The initial survey occurred before Spaces for People measures were introduced. The second and third surveys evaluate the Spaces for People measure of a 20mph speed limit.

Scottish Borders Council Traffic Speed and Volume Dashboard

Project Review

Glasgow City Council – Spaces for People Project Review & Assessment Report

Glasgow City Council has introduced a number of Spaces for People temporary measures as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic; including widened footways, pop-up cycle lanes and pedestrianisation zones using road space, giving priority to those walking, cycling, and wheeling. This report provides an overview of these measures, documents the analysis and evaluation of relevant data, sets out a process to enable an assessment of the individual measures and presents recommendations for either the removal or retention. Glasgow City Council commissioned Sweco to carry out this report.

Glasgow City Council – Spaces for People Project Review & Assessment Report

Travel during the Pandemic


Nestrans have commissioned Systra to conduct monthly online travel behaviour and attitude surveys between July 2020 and March 2022. The reports provide insight as to how people in the North East of Scotland are traveling and how they expect to travel in the future, as well as finding out their current issues and concerns.


Public Health Scotland

The report considers how COVID-19 is affecting the use of transport systems, the implications for population health and wellbeing and support for policy responses during the transition through and beyond COVID-19. While the report does not specifically review Spaces for People measures, it does provide it does give an understanding of transport use and attitudes during the pandemic, with particular focus on health and health inequalities. Both the briefing and full report is available below.

Transport use, health and health inequalities: The impact of measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 – Briefing

Transport use, health and health inequalities: The impact of measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 A rapid review of evidence in support of a health inequalities impact assessment

Transport Scotland

Transport Scotland is monitoring trends and attitudes to transport during the COVID-19 outbreak. Regular reports provides a snapshot of travel across main modes when compared to a pre-pandemic baseline. 

Transport Scotland also carried out a series of telephone surveys with a representative sample of over 16s across Scotland. The survey is aimed at gaining an understanding of the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting current travel behaviour and intentions for future travel in Scotland. As of October 2021, 20 waves of the survey have been undertaken, with the highlights of the report available below. The report provides an insight into:

  • The frequency participants travelled and mode used for ten different purposes. These questions were asked in the context of the last seven days and prior to the first lockdown.
  • Participants were asked about their concerns in relation to people spreading COVID-19 while using public or active travel respectively.
  • Participants were asked about their future expected travel behaviour
  • Participants were asked about their attitude to public transport, their compliance with travel guidance and the vaccination.

COVID-19 Transport Trend Data

COVID-19 Public Attitudes Survey Data

Case Studies News

Public health improvements for Glasgow transport hubs

As the most heavily populated city in Scotland, Glasgow is home to an extensive network of bus and rail links. John Linton/Sustrans

Creating a safe commute

As we hit six months since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the public transport sector is still facing significantly reduced demand across all services.

Compared with this time last year, bus and rail journeys in Scotland are down 50% and 70%, respectively.

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in Scotland, traffic one once busy streets almost completely evaporated overnight. John Linton/Sustrans

However, with more people now returning to their physical workplaces, and with the return to schools and universities, a considerable uptake in daily public transport use is expected over the coming months.

If not managed correctly, we could see delays in journey times for passengers, and increased demand could make physically distancing near impossible.

In order to address this concern, Sustrans is working with Scottish local authorities through its Spaces for People programme to ensure that people are able to access and use the transport services they need safely.

Key case study

Central Station and Queen Street Station are the two major train stations in the heart of Glasgow city centre.

The routes covered not only facilitate travel to and from work, but also provide access to local and regional healthcare providers, grocery stores, leisure facilities and green spaces.

Over the last few months, both sites have undergone significant temporary infrastructure changes thanks to Glasgow City Council‘s £7.5 million Spaces for People project.

Queen Street station

George Street, North Hanover Street and Dundas Street provide the key access points to the newly renovated Queen Street Station.

Extensive changes to George Square have been designed to maximise physcial distancing space for people walking, wheeling and cycling, particularly around Queen Street station. JohnLinton/Sustrans

Widened footways and temporary cycle lanes installed throughout George Square and the surrounding streets ensure that those arriving by foot and wheel are able to safely and easily access any one of Queen Street station’s three entrance points.

The hope is that this will not only give people the space needed to physically distance, but will also increase the uptake of active travel in the city centre, resulting in fewer cars on the road.

Should this be effective, this will leave roads less congested for those that most need them, such as buses, taxis and emergency vehicles.

Automated crossings allow pedestrian signals to turn green automatically without any sarface contact needed. John Linton/Sustrans

Automated crossings have also been introduced in the area in order to minimise the risk of spreading Covid-19 through shared surface contact points.

Central station

Each of Glasgow Central station’s four main access points now benefit from temporary changes designed to both satisfy the needs of passengers whilst making the most of the existing infrastructure.

By introducing a one-way traffic flow on Argyle Street to vehicles heading Westbound, temporary cycle lanes and widened footways could be installed along the route.

Widened footways and temporary cycle lane have made it much easier to access Central station by foot and wheel on Argyle Street whilst maintaining physical distancing. John Linton/Sustrans

Not only has this reduced traffic congestion, but people now have ample space to safely distance from one another as they enter and leave the station, as well as increased opportunities to travel actively for those journeying by bike.

Temporarily reduced access and parking restrictions at Gordon street ensure that maximum distancing space is available to people. A pop-up cycle lane has also been installed to make active travel an easier option.

Limited vehicle access, restricted parking and the addition of a temporary cycle lane on Gordon Street allows easier access to Central Station for cyclists and supports overall physical distancing surrounding the station. Sustrans/John Linton

Lastly, the installation of filtering bollards at the Union Street and Hope Street entrances help ensure that those entering and exiting the station are able to do so as smoothly as possible, whilst also minimising the physical contact time between the different streams of passengers.

Filtered bollards outside of Central station on Hope Street minimise physical contact between streams of opposing foot traffic. Sustrans/John Linton

All of these changes may prove vital in the rush of weekday commuting hours.

‘New normal’ service

Public transport is a vital link to many in accessing work, shops and services. And ensuring they can use this safely is essential to help slow the spread of Covid-19.

For people without access to a car – or for those whose journeys cannot be completed by walking, wheeling or cycling – reliable bus, train and ferry services are a necessity.

If public confidence in transport providers to protect our health is not improved we could see an increase in the use of private cars for short journeys.

It could also have big impacts on our long-term ambitions of securing a greener future for Scotland.

Changes such as those implemented through Spaces for People will take steps to make public transport safer and keep our roads clear for those who need it most.

News News & Opinion Places for Everyone

How can mapping pavements help support physical distancing?

Mapping pavement widths can help local authorities identify pinch points in urban centres or where physical distancing is otherwise unachievable. High Street, North Berwick. Neil Hanna/Sustrans

Responding to a crisis

With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, the scarce amount of space allotted to people across Scotland’s towns and cities is firmly in the forefront.

Attempting to maintain a two-metre physical distance from other pavement users whilst navigating by foot or wheel can be a nuisance at the best of times and an impossibility at others.

In aid of this, Sustrans’ Spaces for People programme, funded by the Scottish Government, has distributed almost £40 million to local authorities to provide temporary infrastructure to help people walk, wheel and cycle.

Spaces for People is delivering temporary infrastructure throughout Scotland to help people walk, wheel and cycle safely through the Covid-19 pandemic. Forrest Road, Edinburgh. Sustrans/Neil Hanna

With a common bid by local authorities’ being to widen public footways, Sustrans have set to calculate and map pavement widths in towns and cities through Scotland to help identify potential crowding pinch points and support physical distancing.

Early mapping in Edinburgh

In 2010, City of Edinburgh Council began work on developing an Active Travel Action Plan, a long-term city-wide project to improve the accessibility and safety of walking, cycling and wheeling infrastructure.

One of the ways Sustrans has been assisting the council with this ambitious project is by undertaking the painstaking work of mapping individual pavement widths throughout the city.

With physical distancing guidelines now in effect as a matter of public health, the construction of a working pavement width database for the whole of Scotland has taken on a new urgency.

Once lockdown was announced, Sustrans accelerated work on providing City of Edinburgh Council with a comprehensive dataset of pavement widths.

This was achieved by adapting code developed for New York to complement Ordinance Survey data.

From this initial success, Sustrans has been able to develop further datasets for Glasgow, East Lothian, Dundee, East Ayrshire and South Ayrshire, with the offer being extended to any other local authorities who would find such data useful.

The coding process

Infrastructure Coordinator for Sustrans Alasdair Anderson was a key player in developing the mapping datasets. As lead on the project, he explains:

“The Python code used to do the analysis utilised Ordinance Survey’s most detailed Mastermap Topograpic Area mapping.

This identifies pavements and paths within a given local authority and accomplishes the surprisingly difficult task of measuring the width of an irregularly shaped object by using a tailored algorithm.

By first calculating the centreline for each of the thousands of bits of pavement that have already been identified, the algorithm then measures the distance back from individual pavement centre point to the pavement edge to calculate the width.

Finally, the results are compiled into a GIS dataset which can be analysed statistically or displayed on a map”.

Alasdair Anderson, Infrastructure Coordinator, Sustrans
Even Edinburgh’s busiest shopping streets have very narrow pavements. Raeburn Place, Stockbridge. Ordinance Survey.

Using the data

An immediate benefit of this data is that it can be used to help people navigate routes which only follow wider pavements.

For example, Sustrans officers have been looking to use pavement widths data to enable them to plan led walks with volunteers or school children once lockdown restrictions are sufficiently eased.

The larger impact, however, of these mapping capabilities is apparent when the data is combined with other information in order to identify the narrowest or busiest streets in order to prioritise them for widening interventions.

While the £38.97 million available under the Spaces for People fund is a lot of money, it is not nearly enough to widen every pavement in Scotland. As such, working out how to prioritise pavement widening initiatives becomes crucial.

Pavement distancing descriptionWidthkm%
Comfortable3.8 to 4.7m105.933.1
Possible2.7 to 3.8m362.7510.7
Difficult2 to 2.7m608.8418
Too narrow1.5 to 2m975.0128.9
Less than minimum design guidance<1.5m1192.835.3
Total ‘difficult’ or narrower<2.7m2776.6582.2
Table demonstrating the widths of pavements throughout Edinburgh as they relate to physical distancing health guidelines.

Applications in Dundee

One of the first practical applications of Sustrans’ pavement mapping capabilities took place in Dundee city centre.

While nearly empty during lockdown, Union Street in Dundee has been closed to traffic in anticipation of crowds of people returning as businesses reopen. Union Street, Dundee. Paul Reid/Sustrans

A dataset of shops and services in Dundee was first created. This was then overlaid with the footway width dataset Sustrans had created to help identify narrow pavements where high footfall was likely to occur. From this, a unique set of Covid-19 emergency proposals for shopping streets in Dundee was able to be generated.

Using these emergency proposals, Sustrans was then able to highlight particular areas where it would be most crucial to prioritise pavement widening interventions.

Areas in blue are streets which would most benefit from widened pavements. Similar approaches have now been utilised in Edinburgh and East Ayrshire.

Looking forward

Looking beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, the datasets Sustrans has created provide local authorities with an invaluable resource with which to maximise the benefit of footway renewal programmes.

Initial progress can be made by first focussing on pavements which fall short of 1.5m, normally considered to be the minimum.

Interventions in areas such as these would improve accessibility for those with additional mobility support needs immensely, such as those manoeuvring a wheelchair or a pram.

Recent adaptations in the code used to calculate pavement widths have now enabled Sustrans to calculate the widths of entire streets.

This new capability could be instrumental in helping Scottish local authorities understand where it would be most beneficial to deliver cycling infrastructure in the future.


Take a look at some of the Scottish towns and cities Sustrans has created GIS pavement width maps for in the image gallery below.

Case Studies News

Safeguarding schools in Clackmannanshire against Covid-19

A combination of Spaces for People and Places for Everyone initiatives will help safeguard the school run as a safe and enjoyable commute. Sustrans/Julie Howden.

Schools throughout Scotland have been largely closed since the beginning of March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now, with their imminent return this month, temporary measures are being introduced through Spaces for People in order to safeguard the health of pupils, parents and teachers, as well as wider communities.

Forward thinking

Due to the increased hesitance around the use of public transport, concerns have been growing that school access roads could quickly become congested with parents attempting to drop off and pick up their children from school.

As well as contributing to the poor health outcomes that are associated with stationary vehicles, pavement parking would greatly reduce the footway space available to path users for physical distancing.

This, ultimately, could increase the likelihood of transmitting Covid-19 within the community.

Taking steps to prevent this, Clackmannanshire Council, supported by Sustrans, have allocated a portion of their Spaces for People funding to ensuring that the school run is still enjoyable and safe

Lamp post wraps and floor stencils have been installed in the area surrounding Abercromby Primary School to improve vigilance of public health guidelines. Sustrans/Julie Howden.

These plans include restricting through traffic to buses and cyclists on The Orchard, Tullibody, an access road to Bernadette Primary School.

As well as promoting a healthy and active commute to school, reallocating road space will allow pupils to walk, wheel and cycle to school with the space they need to maintain physical distance.

As well as this, Covid-19 messages that remind path users of the importance of maintaining a safe physical distance have been installed on pavements using spray painted stencils.

Lamp post wraps and bolted on street signs have also been introduced.

Permanent solutions

Through Sustrans’ Places for Everyone programme, large pencil-shaped bollards have been erected along The Orchard as part of a wider School Street project undertaken during a refurbishment of the school building.

Trees and comfortable seating areas have also been introduced to offer waiting parents a distanced but convenient alternative to gathering outside of the school gate.

Seating areas outside of the school will ensure parents have a comfortable place to wait away from the school gates. Sustrans/Julie Howden.

Where traffic cannot be restricted, fixed installations such as these increase driver awareness of their presence in a school zone and also provide an effective deterrence to mounting the kerb.

Some emergency measures proposed by Clackmannanshire Council as part of their Spaces for People application have already been fast-tracked towards becoming permanent.

Over the coming years, the informal walking, wheeling and cycling links that currently links Sauchie and Glenochil with the nearby Lornshill Academy will be upgraded through the Place for Everyone School Street project into a permanent shared-use path.

This will not only encourage children and parents to stay healthy and active whilst commuting to school, but also improve air quality and safety in the surrounding area.

“Clackmannanshire are making the school run safer, cleaner and more fun for all. Their ambition to prioritise active travel is evident in their Places for Everyone projects and remains at the heart of these Spaces for People interventions. Over the coming years, we will continue to support Clackmannanshire improve school journeys for all.”

Andrew Scoles, Infrastructure Officer, Sustrans

For more information on Clackmannanshire Council’s Space for People project click here.

Case Studies News

Aberdeenshire local businesses benefit from new temporary measures

Janice Langdon, owner of Molly’s Cafe and Bar, along with her daughter Megan Ann Langdon, the cafe’s manager. welcome the temporary changes. Abermedia / Michal Wachucik

For the better part of the last five months, businesses throughout the UK have been largely non-operational due to the public health crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Whilst protecting public health, indefinite closure and reduced footfall has had a devastating impact on the livelihoods and future prospects of businesses, especially small and local owners.

The appetite for change

Stonehaven has a number of streets primed for high footfall, including Allardice Street, Market Square and The Links.

In each of these locations, car-parking spaces have been removed using cones and lengths of coloured separators in order to facilitate additional space for pedestrians to pass one another and queue outside of shops safely.

Pavements were widened using signage and cones at Market Square, Stonehaven, to allow people to move around safely. Abermedia / Michal Wachucik

The Links, in particular, has benefitted from the Spaces for People interventions.

With car-parking spaces removed, customers are now able to queue safely outside of local cafés and eateries, and enjoy expanded seating areas with an unrestricted view of the bay.

Janice Langdon, Owner at Molly’s Café Bar, was delighted by the interventions.

“Without the change of layout to the road, I would not have been able to open the business safely due to the constant queues from another business next door. All of our customers, old and new, comment about how safe they feel with the set-up we have outside. Covid-19 has had such a negative effect on people but this set-up, I must say, is all positive. People are so delighted to be getting out again and to make them feel safe is our priority.”

Janice Langdon, Owner, Molly’s Cafe and Bar
Businesses like Molly’s Cafe and Bar have been able to resume business safely by using reallocated road space to serve customers outdoors. Abermedia / Michal Wachucik

Equally, Nicci Dollar who owns Aunty Betty’s, a popular ice cream shop along The Links, has felt supported by the changes.

“We’ve found the changes to be wonderful. The changes at the beachfront have allowed us to create a queuing system and safe area for the public and our staff. We wish for this to be a permanent feature at the beachfront.”

Nicci Dollar, Owner, Aunty Betty’s

A coordinated effort

Following the award of Spaces for People funding, Sustrans worked closely with Aberdeenshire Council to develop a suite of appropriate temporary measures which were also conducive with physical distancing guidelines.

Parking has been temporarily removed and pavements widened on Banchory High Street to give more people space to physically distance. Abermedia / Michal Wachucik

The key urban centres of Stonehaven, Banchory, Inverurie, Ellon, Fraserburgh,  Peterhead and later Turriff were identified as areas which would benefit most from these measures, with changes having been rolled out from July 15th onward.

Now in effect, temporarily widened footways and one-way traffic flows allow pedestrians the space needed to move around, shop, visit essential services and enjoy their local areas whilst maintaining a safe physical distance.

Temporary physical barriers on Burn Lane, Inverurie, will help provide space to shoppers once footfall returns. Abermedia / Michal Wachucik

Bonnie Thomson, Infrastructure Coordinator at Sustrans, has been overseeing the Aberdeenshire project since it was annouced.

We are delighted to see the temporary measures that have been introduced throughout Aberdeenshire. These changes will allow residents to complete essential journeys and access vital public services safely and with peace of mind.

Bonnie Thomson, Infrastructure Coordinator, Sustrans

To find out more about the Spaces for People project in Aberdeenshire click here.

Case Studies News

Creating accessible rural routes in Inverness

Inclusive infrastructure

Physical barriers and space-limiting infrastructure, such as narrow footpaths, metal fencing and overgrown vegetation are normally no more than a minor nuisance to people travelling on bike or by foot.

But, because of Covid-19, they have become a major public health concern, as they make it much harder for people to physically distance when out and about.

However, for those with additional mobility needs, this kind of infrastructure has always been an issue. And, whether steering a pram, a cargo bike, or a wheelchair, for many, trying to navigate these kind of obstacles can be a major barrier to a simple journey.

Breaking down barriers

Through Sustrans’ Space for People programme, councils across Scotland have been addressing this problem. Many physical obstructions on walking and cycling routes have either been replaced with more accessible designs, or removed altogether

In Inverness, the Highland Council, identified a number of these barriers along busy active travel commuting routes to the city centre.

Gate removed from Caulfield Road North (left) and the bollards installed in its stead (right). Sustrans/Ewen Donaldson

They included Caulfield Road North, to the east of the city centre. This road links suburban communities with a number of essential services, including Raigmore Hospital, Insches Retail Park and the Inverness Campus.

The council replaced a large yellow gate with brightly coloured bollards in Resaurie, to make it easier for people to walk, cycle and wheel along the route.

Meanwhile, at the other end of Caulfield Road North, at the entry way to Cradlehall Business Park, the council added a dropped kerb in the pavement. This has helped create a smoother and safer crossing point for all users.

Kinmylies Way with metal barriers and overgrown vegetation (left) and after removal (right). Sustrans/Ewen Donaldson

Similarly, to the west of the city centre, Kinmylies Way, a busy walking and cycling route with commuters had become overgrown with vegetation and was marred by imposing intermittent metal fencing.

This created a series of uncomfortable pinch points for path users. It also made it harder for people with cargo bikes, prams or wheelchair users to travel along the path.

The council removed lengths of metal barriers and broadened gravel paths. They also cut back vegetation, including tree cover which reduced the areas visibility. It is now much easier and safer for users travelling along the route.

The future is accessible

These small changes are not only cost-effective for local authorities but quick to apply, making them ideal for Spaces for People projects.

Most importantly of all however, is the difference they can make to how people move around their local areas and make every day journeys.

Find out more about the Highland Council’s Spaces for People project here.

Spaces for People

Professional briefing on Spaces for People

Why is Spaces for People important for health and wellbeing?

Ensuring that everyone is equally able to move around their local area safely to meet their needs while adhering to physical distancing adjustments is important for the health and wellbeing of the population. [i]Douglas MJ et al. Health and Transport: A Guide. Scottish Health and Inequalities Impact Assessment Network; 2018. [ii]Cooper E et al. Transport, health, and wellbeing: An evidence review for the Department for Transport. NatCen; 2019. … Continue reading [iii]NHS Health Scotland Place and Communities Inequality Briefing. NHS Health Scotland; 2016.

  • It increases opportunities for social interactions which are important in reducing social isolation and maintaining good mental health
  • It enables access to work, education and training as well as local resources that are essential to maintaining good health
  • It enables access to services including health and social care services

Where this involves walking, wheeling and cycling for all or part of a journey it also increases levels of physical activity and contributes to improved physical and mental health and wellbeing for adults and children. For example regular physical activities can reduce the risk of developing obesity, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and mental health problems and can improve mood. [iv]Public Health England. Spatial Planning for Health. An evidence resource for planning and designing healthier places. Public Health England; 2017. … Continue reading [v] Douglas MJ et al. Health and Transport: A Guide. Scottish Health and Inequalities Impact Assessment Network; 2018. [vi]Scottish Government National Transport Strategy: Protecting our climate and improving our lives. Edinburgh: Scottish Government Edinburgh; 2019. … Continue reading

The Scottish Government’s Transport Transitions Plan encourages walking, wheeling and cycling, where possible as an alternative to using public transport, and if using public transport, to be mindful of the restrictions in place.

Creation of additional local safe, high quality space and good quality routes through road reallocation and a review of traffic and parking arrangements is a vital part of our response to maintaining a safe physical distance, improving the environment, providing protection from traffic and promoting good health and wellbeing.

Challenges to moving safely

Increase in road traffic

There can be tensions and conflict between different transport modes. As restrictions are further relaxed, the number of people moving will continue to increase while the requirement to maintain physical distancing will remain. More people will return to work, education and training and people may want to access local facilities including shops and outdoor cafes.

This might help to reinvigorate the local economy but will also increase the pressure on local spaces.

Data from Transport Scotland collected during the lockdown and phase 1 of the transition, show that walking and cycling increased during this period. However there has also been a gradual increase in car journeys following an initial large reduction at the start of lockdown. [vii]Transport Scotland Covid-19 Transport Trend Data.

There were early indications that on certain roads (some motorways and trunk roads) the proportion of vehicles recording over the speed limits had risen during the period of the lockdown although the actual number of vehicles observed speeding had fallen by approximately 50% compared with a typical weekday or weekend prior to COVID restrictions. [viii]Parliamentary question on Covid-10 and answers by the Scottish Government Friday 15 May 2020.

An increasing volume of traffic on roads, some of which may be speeding, may impact on people’s safety when walking, wheeling or cycling and it is important to act to maintain the initial increase in active travel levels in the medium and longer term.

Transport Inequalities

Transport options are more limited for some households. For example:

  • Around 29% of households don’t have access to a car. This is more likely amongst low income and single pensioner households. [ix]Transport Scotland. Scottish Transport Statistics No. 38 2019 Edition. Edinburgh: Transport Scotland; 2020.
  • Those on low income are more likely to travel by bus and walk to work and have less access to bicycles. [x]Transport and Travel in Scotland 2018: Results from the Scottish Household Survey: … Continue reading This can determine access to services and facilities.
  • A higher proportion of those with long term conditions “affecting day to day living a lot” compared with those with no long term limiting health problems do not have access to a car. [xi]Transport Scotland. Scottish Transport Statistics No. 38 2019 Edition. Edinburgh: Transport Scotland; 2020. Disabled people and those with long term health problems also experience significant transport barriers and often have more limited choices.[xii]Gates S et al. Transport and inequality: An evidence review for the Department for Transport. … Continue reading [xiii]Scottish Government National Transport Strategy: Protecting our climate and improving our lives. Edinburgh: Scottish Government Edinburgh; 2019. … Continue reading In relation to walking, wheeling and cycling, these barriers include the allocation and condition of road space.
  • Over a million people are at risk of transport poverty (Sustrans define this as people are deemed to be at risk of transport poverty when they don’t have access to essential services or work due to limited affordable transport options) in Scotland. Risk of transport poverty is considered to be greatest in areas with (relatively) low income, high car availability and low access to essential services by public transport. [xiv]Transport Poverty in Scotland, Sustrans 2016.

Current disruptions to and concern about the use of public transport [xv]COVID-19 Public Attitudes Survey Data: Wave 3. may reduce the ability of these groups to reach essential employment and services, socially interact and undertake exercise or recreation. This will be particularly challenging for those who do not have access to private vehicles.

Developing the active travel infrastructure can increase transport options, particularly for these groups. [xvi]National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Physical activity and the environment Public Health Guideline ng90. 2018. [xvii]Scottish Government National Transport Strategy: Protecting our climate and improving our lives. Edinburgh: Scottish Government Edinburgh; 2019. … Continue reading This means considering for example targeting the measures at the most deprived areas as well as routes which are especially unsafe or dangerous, so more people from these areas feel that they have better environments in which they can walk, wheel and cycle safely in their local areas.

This should be accompanied locally by measures that will address the barriers to active travel including those that improve perceptions of personal safety such as maintenance and lighting, inclusive cycling initiatives, cycling training programmes and provision of bike storage facilities.

Reducing the health impacts from road transport

Enabling greater levels of active travel will also go some way to reduce the negative impacts of road traffic on health and health inequalities. These include higher levels of traffic [xviii]NHS Health Scotland Place and Communities Inequality Briefing. Edinburgh: NHS Health Scotland; 2016. which increases exposure to air and noise pollution [xix]The Marmot Review: Implications for Spatial planning ; road traffic accidents [xx]The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents ‘Social Factors in Road Safety’ Policy Paper ; injuries to both transport users and pedestrians; and community severance. [xxi]Douglas MJ et al. Health and Transport: A Guide. Scottish Health and Inequalities ImpactAssessment Network; 2018. … Continue reading

People in the poorest areas and those living on lower incomes are more likely to experience these impacts [xxii]Pearce JR, Richardson EA, Mitchell RJ, Shortt NK. Environmental justice and health: the implications of the socio-spatial distribution of multiple environmental deprivation for healthinequalities in … Continue reading even though they are less likely to have access to a car. People in low income communities are at higher risk from road crashes [xxiii] Douglas MJ et al. Health and Transport: A Guide. Scottish Health and Inequalities Impact Assessment Network; 2018. and children on foot or bike in the most 20% deprived areas in Scotland areas are three times more likely to be involved in road accidents compared to the 20% least deprived areas. [xxiv]Geddes I, Allen J, Allen M, Morrisey L. The Marmot Review: Implications for Spatial planning. … Continue reading

Increasing the infrastructure for active travel can help reduce these negative health impacts particularly for those in the poorest areas and with the lowest incomes, as well as improving the environment. Following lockdown there were signs that air pollution caused by traffic, i.e. nitrogen dioxide levels, may have reduced. [xxv]A SPICE blog on air pollution during covid-19 lockdown.

Supporting people to continue to walk, cycle or wheel safely rather than use the car, especially for short local journeys, will help to maintain improved air quality with benefits for health and wellbeing. Lowering speed limits and introducing traffic calming measures, such as 20mph zones, has been found to reduce the risk of injury and death for pedestrians and cyclists. Targeting efforts to those neighbourhoods most in need can contribute to a reduction in inequalities in road casualties. [xxvi]NHS Health Scotland Place and Communities Inequality Briefing. Edinburgh: NHS Health Scotland; 2016.

In Summary

Measures to reduce the spread of Covid 19 are currently and will continue to influence the way we move around our communities. This presents challenges for those groups who experience few transport options. The measures funded by ‘Spaces for People’ have huge potential to support safe and active travel during the COVID-19 pandemic and as restrictions
are lifted.

Working with communities and linking with local public health and health improvement departments will help ensure that Spaces for People meets the needs of the local populations. This will help to protect and improve their health and wellbeing in both the short and longer term, and support the move towards a greener recovery.

You can download this article as a PDF here.

Ali MacDonald

Organisational Lead for Active, Healthy Environments,
Public Health Scotland


i Douglas MJ et al. Health and Transport: A Guide. Scottish Health and Inequalities Impact Assessment Network; 2018.
ii Cooper E et al. Transport, health, and wellbeing: An evidence review for the Department for Transport. NatCen; 2019.
iii NHS Health Scotland Place and Communities Inequality Briefing. NHS Health Scotland; 2016.
iv Public Health England. Spatial Planning for Health. An evidence resource for planning and designing healthier places. Public Health England; 2017.
v, xxiii Douglas MJ et al. Health and Transport: A Guide. Scottish Health and Inequalities Impact Assessment Network; 2018.
vi, xiii, xvii Scottish Government National Transport Strategy: Protecting our climate and improving our lives. Edinburgh: Scottish Government Edinburgh; 2019.
vii Transport Scotland Covid-19 Transport Trend Data.
viii Parliamentary question on Covid-10 and answers by the Scottish Government Friday 15 May 2020.
ix, xi Transport Scotland. Scottish Transport Statistics No. 38 2019 Edition. Edinburgh: Transport Scotland; 2020.
x Transport and Travel in Scotland 2018: Results from the Scottish Household Survey:
xii Gates S et al. Transport and inequality: An evidence review for the Department for Transport.
xiv Transport Poverty in Scotland, Sustrans 2016.
xv COVID-19 Public Attitudes Survey Data: Wave 3.
xvi National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). Physical activity and the environment Public Health Guideline ng90. 2018.
xviii, xxvi NHS Health Scotland Place and Communities Inequality Briefing. Edinburgh: NHS Health Scotland; 2016.
xix The Marmot Review: Implications for Spatial planning
xx The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents ‘Social Factors in Road Safety’ Policy Paper
xxi Douglas MJ et al. Health and Transport: A Guide. Scottish Health and Inequalities Impact
Assessment Network; 2018.
xxii Pearce JR, Richardson EA, Mitchell RJ, Shortt NK. Environmental justice and health: the implications of the socio-spatial distribution of multiple environmental deprivation for health
inequalities in the United Kingdom. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 2010; 35(4): 522-539
xxiv Geddes I, Allen J, Allen M, Morrisey L. The Marmot Review: Implications for Spatial planning.
xxv A SPICE blog on air pollution during covid-19 lockdown.
Engage • Inspire • Learn SfP

Sustrans’ Spaces for People offer

Sustrans officers provide an overview of the support package available to partners through Spaces for People, from newly published design guidance to quick wins using Commonplace.

What we can do

Continuing with our online discussion and workshops sessions, this week Principal Engineer with Sustrans Paul Cronin guides you through the support we are able to offer local authorities and statutory bodies in relation to the Spaces for People programme.

As a quick overview, below are the key areas we are able to assist with:

  • Identification of network planning and engagement priorities
  • Design of concept and detailed general arrangements
  • Procurement and contract management to support implementation
  • Communication feedback and the interpretation of monitoring data

Different Sustrans officers delve into the specifics of what this support looks like. A brief summary of this is provided below.

Design guidance

Over the past few months, Sustrans have been working in collaboration with engineering and design consultancy Atkins in order to provide our partners with a comprehensive roadmap of temporary infrastructure designs that will support public health through Covid-19.

Sustrans Senior Urban Designer René Lindsay talks through the guidance as it relates to walking and wheeling, cycling routes, traffic management and signage options.

This graphic illustrates how different temporary interventions vary in suitability depending on their implementation period. Atkins.

You can keep up to date with the latest published guidance on our dedicated Design Guidance Showcase page.

Network planning and mapping in Edinburgh

Infrastructure Coordinators for Sustrans Alasdair Anderson and Angus Calder provide key insights into the provisions City of Edinburgh Council have set forward as part of their Spaces for People programme.

This focusses on improvements designed to enhanced the city’s existing bus network, providing physically distanced access to shopping streets and essential services, as well a widespread modal shift towards active travel through improved segregation on arterial routes.

To assist with this, Sustrans have mapped pavements widths throughout the city using ArcGIS and Python software in order to help determine the most effective locations for temporary interventions to be implemented.

“Edinburgh have taken a genuinely really ambitious, city-wide, strategic approach”.

Angus Calder, Infrastrucutre Coordinator, Sustrans

Commonplace tips

A number of local authorities are using Commonplace for their Spaces for People projects in order to gather public feedback on proposed interventions as well as encourage participation in designs.

East Renfrewshire Council received support from Sustrans in utilising Commonplace to maximise public participation in the design of temporary interventions.

Using the East Renfrewshire Commonplace as a case study, Community Engagement Officer for Sustrans Tremaine Bilham demonstrates how best to secure quick wins and maximise the opportunities available when using the engagement tool.

Union Street, Dundee

Using the plans to close Union Street in Dundee to traffic as an example, Infrastructure Officer for Sustrans Injoanna Lai outlines the potential temporary interventions that could be put in place in similar layouts to support public health and active travel.

Union Street in Dundee is set to be closed to traffic in order to allow greater physical distancing for pedestrians and cyclists. Paul Reid/Sustrans.

Research and monitoring support

Martin Laban, Evaluation Manager with our Research and Monitoring Unit (RMU), provides an overview of the types project monitoring support Sustrans are able to offer partners, and the data collection strategies employed therein.

In particular, take a look at how our Space to Move platform has provided a rich and live dataset on the temporary measures being implemented throughout the UK so far and how the public has responded to this.

Questions answered

  • What support is Sustrans able to offer local authorities through its Spaces for People programme?
  • What does our design guidance say? How can our design guidance help partners implement the most effective temporary interventions?
  • How can local authorities make the best use of Commonplace?
  • What support can our Research and Monitoring Unit offer.

Stay Updated

New knowledge sharing sessions such as this one will be published on our Showcase website each week.

Learn more about the Spaces for People programme on our dedicated Showcase page.

Why not keep up to date with the latest Spaces for People programme developments by signing up to our Spaces for People newsletter?

Note: the examples shown are in no way prescriptive and are for information only. Where specific products are shown in this document, this does not constitute Sustrans’ endorsement of that product.