ACC submits social distancing plans to support the NHS

Aberdeen City Council has submitted an ambitious plan to the Scottish Government’s Spaces for People fund to help ensure the safe emergence from COVID-19 lockdown measures.

The bid, if successful, would see a roll out of temporary measures to allow people to walk, cycle, and queue for buses and shopping while adhering to social distancing guidance. Measures proposed include pavement widening, temporary bike lanes, and one-way walking systems.

The proposed outline program has been developed with NHS Grampian, transport organisation NESTRANS and Business Improvement District operator Aberdeen Inspired.

The city centre, and Union Street in particular, faces challenges because pavements are not wide enough to accommodate the current 2-metre level of social distancing.

The bid proposes rerouting traffic around the centre to free up carriageway space for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users. Access will still be provided to the city centre car parks as well as for residents and businesses.

Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader Councillor Jenny Laing said: “We are taking this bid forward with a singular focus on the health and wellbeing needs of residents.

“It is the immediate need to support social distancing requirements and people’s ability to move safely around the city –allowing us to start our social and economic recovery – that is central to this bid.

“External funding from the Scottish Government is crucial if we are to be ready to respond to the lifting of the lockdown and play our role in helping the country recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The measures also aim to increase capacity at community pinch points and along popular arterial business and leisure walking and cycling routes, as well as near health facilities, parks, schools and other public buildings.

Aberdeen City Council will continue to review, monitor, and evaluate the proposed interventions while discussions are held with stakeholders, and more detailed information will be published after the Scottish Government’s Spaces for People fund allocations are finalised.

The fund is administered by sustainable transport body SUSTRANS. The length of time the measures will be in place will be determined by NHS and Government guidance.