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Rennie calls for new walking and cycling measures to allow safe social distancing

April 27, 2020 5:00 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today called on the Scottish Government to kickstart the rollout of new walking and cycling measures to allow for social distancing and avoid accidents, following examples of cities around the world which are re-configuring their transport networks in response to coronavirus.

The party is supporting calls from Pedal on Parliament, Cycling UK, Sustrans and others in campaigning for the transport system to be reset with a fresh focus on social distancing and active alternatives to public transport.

The World Health Organisation has also published advice stating that people should consider riding bikes or walking "whenever feasible".

Willie Rennie commented:

"To save lives, social distancing and the two metre rule are likely to be in place for a long time to come. The risk is that if we don't reconfigure our streets then people will increasingly be at risk of stepping into traffic during the phases after full lockdown.

"Public transport can only facilitate social distancing for a limited number of people - perhaps only a quarter of its capacity. That means people are going to need other ways to get to work, and that can't just involve everyone piling into their cars because that could lead to gridlock.

"I want to see a combination of widened pavements, temporary cycle lanes and priority streets which are closed to vehicles with the exception of residents and critical services. There should be new government guidance to encourage and help councils agree systems that work for their area.

"Authorities are doing this around the world, from New Zealand to Milan and Mexico City. This is about keeping the network moving and keeping people safe

"It has been great to see people embrace their daily exercise as we all cherish our time outdoors. The transport system should be reset in a way that allows this activity to continue during the next phases. Without this we risk a resurgence of car travel, more accidents and more air pollution than before."