Last week, we asked the Scottish government to make it easier for local authorities to temporarily reclaim road space for pedestrians and cyclists – what we’re calling ‘Space for Distancing’. 

Now we need you to put your support behind our call for four temporary measures: 

  • wider pavements for pedestrians, especially in areas where people may have to queue outside shops
  • pop up segregated cycle lanes along key commuter routes
  • modal filters closing off residential streets to rat-runners (while leaving them open to residents and the emergency services) 
  • measures to slow speeds on rural roads where there are no pavements so people can walk and cycle safely. 

So far we haven’t heard anything official from the minister (he’s probably quite busy) but he has tweeted a couple of times to say that he’s exploring these issues with some local authorities, so we’re hopeful that the Scottish Government will soon make a positive move here. 

Regardless of what is announced, we need local authorities to act on this as soon as possible – local authorities could do all of these things already if they wanted to and had the resources. But it’s a big ask, whether or not they have central government support — councils have a lot on their plates at the moment and reducing space from traffic is not usually something they want to rush into.

So we’re hoping to encourage them in as positive a way as possible, by suggesting places where these measures could be put in place. They’ll see that there is local demand for them and where they should go — and, by sharing them online, we’ll encourage others to join in!

We’ve done some quick graphical overlays that you can add to your own pictures (and we’ve got instructions here on how to do this if you’re not sure) and you can see the sort of thing we’re looking for in the examples below 

So here’s what you need to do:

  • Pick a place local to you where you’d like to see wider pavements, temporary road closures, pop-up cycle lanes or lower speed limits.
  • Find a photo. If you can safely take one during your daily exercise or any essential journeys you’re making anyway, then great, but otherwise use Google Streetview (with credit).
  • Add the appropriate graphic (you can download them from here).
  • Post it up on the social media platform of your choice with the hashtag #SpaceForDistancing
  • Make sure you tag in the appropriate people in your council (you can find a list here) and/or your council’s social media account.
  • Add in the location (perhaps in the image description if you don’t have room in the post) so that councils know where it is.
  • Don’t forget to tag us in too (maybe in the image) – we’re @POPScotland on Twitter/Instagram and Pedal on Parliament on Facebook.

(If all this sounds like gibberish to you, or you don’t do social media, then feel free to send us the photos (press AT pedalonparliament DOT org), tell us where it is and what you’d like to see done and we can do it.)

Please keep your posts and tweets positive and polite. Remember that your councillors and council officers are dealing with an unprecedented crisis and are probably working really hard in difficult circumstances. It won’t necessarily be as obvious to them as it is to you why this is important – so make a strong case for the benefits to you and others. 

We know that this won’t be the same as all the wonderful creative pop-up events that were in the pipeline for POP weekend, but at least it will be something we can do to try and ensure that the transition out of lockdown doesn’t leave us gridlocked or worse. 

As we said last week, the Covid-19 pandemic has proved devastating for many, and life-changing for almost all of us. We need these measures now to reduce the risk to the general population post-lockdown.  However, as other cities and countries around the world have recognised, such measures can also serve as a bridge – from the car-centric, unhealthy urban design of the present to more sustainable, liveable towns and cities of the future.

#SpaceForDistancing: Over to you