The Welsh government has launched its £15.4 million plan to create more space for people to travel under social distancing restrictions.
Councils will get investment for schemes that widen pavements and create more space for cyclists.
The new funding package is part of the Welsh government’s new £90m ‘Transforming Towns’ approach by making it safer and easier for people to get around their local towns.
The funding will also be used to help buses move around towns easier to promote public transport when the lockdown eases.
Lee Waters, deputy minister for economy and transport, said: “During this lockdown we have seen a real change in people’s behaviours, with more and more of us choosing to walk and cycle for necessary journeys.
“When we have been able to get out of the house it has been great to enjoy the cleaner air and quieter streets.
“But it’s clear we’ve got to take action now to lock-in for the long-term many of those changed behaviours we have seen by making a positive choice to reallocate road space in our town centres and in our communities and to give it over to better active travel infrastructure.”
Waters said the government had received over 200 proposals to rethink town centres and public squares for the future.
He said: “We asked local authorities to prioritise those schemes which can be delivered within the next three to four months and which can have the greatest impact in their local area – hopefully making a real difference to how people see and get around their local area. Today is hopefully the start of our long-term project to enhance our town centres and public areas.”
- Around £2m of the funding is specifically for schemes around schools.
- Up to 15 locations in Cardiff will benefit from district and local centre footway, social distancing and public realm improvements.
- In Swansea, there will be secure city centre bicycle parking and a Park & Cycle Initiative at Landore, plus Park & Ride sites in Fabian Way.
- Blaenau Gwent has asked for the funds to helpdeclutter and consolidate their signage.
- Conwy has plans to alleviate a pinch point on Conwy Bridge.
- The Isle of Angelsey will be using the money for bus stop improvements and social distancing measures at main bus stops.
- In Carmarthenshire, footways will be upgraded, routes better signposted and road space reallocated so cyclists and pedestrians’ safer social distancing.
- Rhyl town centre will see suspension of sections of on-street parking for safer walking and cycling, also providing traffic-free routes within the town.
Local authorities will be expected to monitor the impact of their measures, and make adjustments if necessary.
The new ‘Safer Public Spaces’ guidance provides information on, and examples of, temporary interventions that could be undertaken by the owners and operators of public spaces to keep people safe as and when restrictions are relaxed and urban spaces become busier.
These include active travel measures, along with consideration of pedestrian movement; queues; traffic management; the use of outdoor space by the hospitality industry; and hygiene measures.