A green man revolution is coming to Edinburgh and Glasgow - Alastair Dalton

It started as “pop-up” cycle lanes and widened pavements to give riders and walkers more space in these physically-distanced times.

Clyde Street is among roads in Glasgow city centre to get extra cycle lanes. Picture: Glasgow City Council.
Clyde Street is among roads in Glasgow city centre to get extra cycle lanes. Picture: Glasgow City Council.

But what has emerged is that some Scottish cities are going far further, with radical plans that “active travel” campaigners will welcome as the streets being finally reclaimed but are likely to equally enrage diehard motorists.

The Covid-19 crisis, with its severe restrictions on public transport capacity, could prove to be the catalyst to rebalance city centres away from the car.

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It’s a goal some transport planners have been striving towards for decades.

More than 15 miles of Glasgow city centre streets would be reallocated to walking and cycling by removing parking spaces. Picture: Glasgow City Council.

And it is not just Edinburgh - traditionally seen as being in the vanguard of green travel innovations - that is leading the way.

Glasgow has produced some equally bold proposals, which include temporarily removing most of the 2,000 parking spaces from city centre streets other than those for disabled drivers.

The city council argues there is plenty of room in car parks, which are rarely more than half full.

In fact, this was what was originally envisaged when the M8 was built through Glasgow - drivers parking at one of a new ring of multi-storey car parks on the edge of the city centre and continuing on foot.

Pedestrians should be seeing far less of the red man in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Picture: Lisa Ferguson.

The move would free up 15 miles of streets for walkers and cyclists - for use by people actually moving as opposed to storing motionless metal boxes.

In other areas of the city, parking spaces could be ditched so people could physically distance outside shops.

Remaining “rat runs” in residential areas would be blocked off to stop drivers taking short cuts deterring walking and cycling.

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Planned car-free zones around schools may be accelerated.

But I believe what is equally significant are the plans to make it easier for people to cross the road - and help prevent a build-up of waiting pedestrians.

As I’ve written several times before, the green man at traffic lights in Glasgow can be a frustratingly rare sight, with vehicles getting two rounds of green lights at some junctions before pedestrians can safely cross.

However, this could be turned on its head at some intersections with proposals to make the green man the default instead, which would only change as vehicles approached.

This follows a trial at the previously-busy of Argyle/Queen Street junction.

At other crossings, the green man will stay on for longer.

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In Edinburgh, since last week the green man has come on automatically as the lights change at 101 junctions without the need for pedestrians to push the button.

This has been extended from the busiest intersections for walkers, such as on the Royal Mile, and is likely to be repeated at yet more.

Other measures already planned for the capital will be accelerated, such as banning cars from city centre streets like the east end of Princes Street, and East Market Street.

Through traffic would be barred from Cockburn Street and Victoria Street in the Old Town and parking reduced.

Waverley Bridge would be closed to all traffic.

With £30 million of Scottish Government funding up for grabs for such measures, expect to see other councils follow suit.

Nearly half of the cash has already been allocated to nine local authorities, which also include Aberdeen, Dundee and Highland, which covers Inverness.

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Almost all of Scotland’s 23 other councils have expressed interest.

Something positive, many would argue, to come out of the pandemic.

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