Council chiefs are being urged to create a go-slow zone in Perth city centre to help keep pedestrians and cyclists safe when lockdown eases.
Perth and Kinross Council is finalising its bid for emergency funding to pay for a series of temporary measures throughout the Fair City and other towns and villages across the area, to ensure social distancing can continue when people start returning to work.
The Courier revealed earlier this month Perth could be transformed with physical barriers to help widen footpaths. Traffic restrictions and possible road closures could also be put in place.
The local Liberal Democrat group is asking officers to consider a blanket 20mph limit, which they say will give people peace of mind and more confidence to return to the city centre.
The group, which suggests the council has been too slow in submitting its bid to Sustrans, also wants improvements for people with visual impairments.
Council officials rejected calls by Liberal Democrat group leader Pete Barrett to create a one-way pedestrian system on both Perth and Queen’s bridges, over the Tay. He has since been told the rejection was a “mistake” and the issue is still under review.
Perth and Kinross Council hopes to secure money from Sustrans’ Spaces for People programme.
Strathmore councillor Lewis Simpson, a regular cyclist and campaigner for active travel, said: “If members of the public are to be either encouraged or possibly required to go back to work and to use shops and other facilities as they begin to open up, it is essential that Perth and Kinross Council proactively adopt measures which address the difficulties that pedestrians and cyclists face while attempting to observe social distancing.
“A 20mph speed limit will also make our city and town centre streets safer for everyone.
“There is a huge amount of evidence that pedestrians and cyclists feel much safer in 20mph zones. Research was carried out on this in several places including Fife, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
“The whole point of this is to make people feel safe, and feel confident that they can come back into the city and town centres and still be able to maintain a distance from others.”
Mr Barrett said he is “determined” pedestrian access on Perth bridges is explored properly. “Common sense tells you it is a good idea, and I am grateful to residents for raising this matter,” he said.
“The council needs to be ambitious in its bid for Sustrans money and it needs to ensure we do not miss out on available funding. Other councils have been far quicker off the mark than Perth and Kinross.”
A local authority spokesman said: “Perth and Kinross Council is already in discussion with Sustrans regarding ways to help pedestrians maintain safe physical distancing on footpaths and in town centres as the lockdown eases.
“Our officers have been identifying potential problem areas and possible mitigation measures that could be introduced. These could include new signing on footpaths and lane or road closures.”
He said councillors, Tactran, Police Scotland and community councils would consulted before the bid for funding is finalised and increasing active travel during and after the lockdown remains a priority.
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