Social-distancing measures could transform streets around Perth for the foreseeable future.
Barriers could be installed around the Fair City to help widen pavements, to help people pass each other safely. Signs could also be put in place to encourage one-way pedestrian systems.
Perth and Kinross Council is among the first in the country to begin consulting on how the city – as well as surrounding towns and villages – could look, as lockdown restrictions start to lift.
The public is being asked to identify potential flashpoints, such as where pavements are too narrow for social distancing. Measures could be in place for several months.
The council has already come up against a potential bone of contention: the two historic bridges that cross the River Tay in Perth City Centre.
Liberal Democrat councillor Peter Barrett has urged officers to introduce single-direction walking routes on both Perth Bridge and Queen’s Bridge, so pedestrians do not have to step onto the road.
He said a failure to act was putting people at risk.
Officials have, however, rejected such a scheme but said they will keep it under review.
Mr Barrett said: “Residents raised concerns regarding social distancing on Perth Bridge when pedestrians walking in opposite directions meet. Someone has to step on to the road in order to pass.”
Mr Barrett, who represents the Perth City Centre, said he was disappointed the council had so far agreed to keep the two-way system in place.
“With traffic volumes rising and widespread concerns about increased speeds on the road network, it is very disappointing that the council are not taking a proactive approach on the Perth Bridge,” he said.
“A one-size fits all protocol makes little sense to me.
“Public health should be the over-riding concerns and pavement widths, pedestrian safety and numbers – plus volume of traffic – should be fully considered in the current crisis.”
The local Green party is also urging the council to make use of its share of £10 million Scottish Government cash to pay for safer streets.
Local member Elspeth Maclachlan has asked local authority chiefs to increase space for walkers and cyclists.
“Many pavement widths make it impossible to stay 2m apart in towns and villages, as well as in the city itself,” she said.
“While many people will remain ultra-cautious and frightened, waiting for a potential second wave, others will revert back to their usual habits.”
A council spokesperson said: “Perth and Kinross Council recognises that some areas may potentially cause safe distancing conflict for pedestrians and other vulnerable road users in the weeks and months ahead.
“Council staff are carrying out surveys of Perth and other town centres to identify where these conflict points may occur and what mitigation measures may be possible, in line with any Scottish Government guidance at that time. This includes a review of the Perth city centre bridges.”
He added that the council will discuss temporary safety measures with Sustrans.
“The council will continue to address any other road safety issue and to develop longer term proposals to improve transport choices, separately from any temporary measures that may be required in the short term.”
John Alexander, SNP leader of Dundee City Council, said the local authority was in the process of developing a bid for Scottish government cash to modify the city.
The government announced a £10m fund late last month for bike lanes, footpaths and other ways to make it easier for people to exercise and get around while still acting in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
He said: “This money will make social distancing easier. We’re putting a bid into that and a colleague is leading on that now.
“It will contain a whole series of different measures,” he added.
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