Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer public spaces - updated guidance

Guidance focused on design principles for safer urban centres and green spaces in Scotland during the coronavirus crisis. It contains information and examples of interventions that may be undertaken by owners and operators of public spaces to keep people safe.

63 page PDF

12.2 MB

63 page PDF

12.2 MB

Contents
Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer public spaces - updated guidance
4. Management of urban centres

63 page PDF

12.2 MB

4. Management of urban centres

When applying the decision tree, owners and operators are advised to consider the common issues and temporary interventions that have been identified for urban centres. Common issues outlined in this chapter include managing high footfall and queues around shops and bus stops and busy high streets. It also suggests potential interventions to these issues from pavement markings to digital signs..

4.1 Physical distancing in urban centres

To ensure physical distancing in urban centres, owners and operators are advised to consider the utilisation of pedestrian space, movement of people, queuing requirements and traffic management. The focus should be on temporary interventions in areas of highest footfall, particularly those that provide a range of attractions and services as they pose the greatest risk. This guidance should be read alongside Scotland's Transport Transition Plan, which set out what steps public transport operators must take to make buses, trains, ferries, taxis and private hire vehicles as safe as possible. The Plan also provides guidance and advice on managing the demand for public transport, encouraging people to stay in their local areas for services and to walk, wheel and cycle where possible, as well as indicating sources of support for active travel.

The Scottish Government supported physical distancing measures through the Towns and BIDS Resilience and Recovery Fund, administered by Scotland's Towns Partnership. The fund was aimed at supporting actions to help prepare towns, their communities and businesses for the gradual easing of lockdown rules.

Every urban centre will have its own unique issues and temporary interventions that can be introduced to enable physical distancing. However, there will be some common issues. The diagram below identifies key urban centres that are likely to be focal zones. These are likely to be areas of constrained space and with high levels of footfall.

Figure 1: Overview - typical urban centre illustration
aerial sketch illustrating a typical urban centre with high street, commercial, retail, transport and park areas

Issues in urban centres

Issues for maintaining physical distancing in urban centres include:

  • The needs of disabled people and other groups who may have additional needs requires to be kept under consideration. Consider the needs of visually impaired people, who may require orientation for areas which have been redesigned.
  • High footfall and areas of dense population, particularly at peak times.
  • Multiple queues due to restricted entry and exit points into different areas or shops.
  • Pedestrian and cycling movement flows varying as different people move to different shops and facilities.
  • Constraints on pedestrian movement from unnecessary obstacles such as planters, transport stops, landscape features and bins, while also considering issues such as the need for seats for the older people and disabled people, to ensure they are not further excluded.
  • Need to provide space for regular, safe, formal and informal road crossing points. Consideration should be given to the need for appropriate signs or markings to indicate crossing points for visually impaired people.
  • Need to accommodate people entering and exiting spaces from different types of transport e.g. foot, cycles, bus, train (and underground or tram), cars in the same area.
  • Higher levels of cycling, traffic congestion and increased need for vehicle access.
  • Need to accommodate high levels of cycling in and around busy centres, including provision of cycle racks or cycle storage.
  • Multiple landowners and stakeholders operating in the same areas requiring a coordinated approach.
  • Ability to wash hands or hand sanitation.
  • It is important that Equality Impact Assessments (EQIAs) be undertaken when developing proposals to ensure that any new interventions address consider implications for people with one or more of the protected characteristics. Whilst EQIA should be proportionate there is a need to consider the context of any intervention(s) against the needs of the general equality duty as set out in section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.

Potential interventions that could support physical distancing

This is what you should be considering for the utilisation of pedestrian space:

  • Footway widening to accommodate distancing between pedestrians, including the use of temporary barriers in the carriageway; changes to parking bays, loading bays and relocating cycle lanes. The needs of disabled people, including access to disabled parking bays should be considered when making changes to street layouts.
  • Reduce or relocate unnecessary obstacles, for example planters, and add markings/tape on seating to maintain physical distancing. Security considerations and the impacts of measures on disabled people and other groups needs to be kept under consideration and may call for a balanced approach.
  • Signage and communications to remind pedestrians of distance requirements. This could be through spray markings and signage at entrances and movement intersections. Any additional signage or markings should provide colour and tonal contrast to enable accessibility.

This is what you should be considering for pedestrian movement:

  • One-way movement of pedestrians to maintain 2m (6ft) distancing if appropriate.
  • Signage and space to encourage pedestrians to wait and allow others to pass at entryways or along footpaths.
  • Provide separate entry and exit routes for pedestrian access with clear signs containing colour and tonal contrast.
  • Maximise access to entry and exit routes to minimise queues.
  • Move bus stops/shelters to areas which can accommodate queuing in line with physical distancing requirements. These areas should also be able to accommodate disabled people.
  • Aim to have a pedestrian corridor that is free of obstacles with access to dropped kerbs and tactile paving provided where required. This will help disabled people to navigate and maintain physical distancing.
  • Alterations to traffic signal times and phases to give greater priority to pedestrians.

This is what you should be considering for queuing:

  • Defined areas to indicate where pedestrians should stand when queuing using spray markings, in contrast colour, or temporary barriers.
  • Management of multiple queues for different businesses through clear signage and the use of marshals as appropriate.
  • 'Do not join the queue' signs provided at popular destinations, when capacity reached.
  • Consider the needs of disabled people and older people, who may not be able to stand for long, in the provision for queuing.
  • Work with your local authority or landlord to take into account the impact of your queues or other processes on public spaces such as high streets and public car parks.

This is what you should be considering for traffic management:

  • Traffic lanes could be closed, made one way or completely pedestrianised. Links to further guidance can be found in the Appendix.
  • Consider car parking layout and spacing, reducing capacity if appropriate. On-street parking could be suspended to facilitate other measures, while taking account of any accessible parking bay needs.
  • Depending on circumstances, it may be advantageous for temporary car parking areas to be located at the edge of town centres and busy areas. This may help to disperse traffic from busy areas, reduce the impact of the loss of car parking due to footway enlargement, and allow the prioritisation of car parking for disabled people within town centres.
  • Consider the need for delivery access, timing and essential access for street works and maintenance.
  • Signage to inform pedestrians and road users of changes to road layouts.
  • Security considerations, and the impact of measures on people with disabilities and other groups, need to be kept under consideration. This includes access for blue badge holders and may call for a balanced approach.

4.2 Longer term opportunities

While the measures outlined here concern temporary provisions, consideration can be given to longer term opportunities to improve and rethink urban spaces from a strategic perspective. When considering the longer term, equality issues should be considered and appropriate groups and individuals consulted.

Monitoring and evaluation of interventions should be carried out in order to assess risk and wider public health and environmental benefits.

4.3 Physical distancing in high streets and town centres

High streets are the main street(s) in a town or city and are the typical location for most shops, banks, offices and other businesses. High streets typically have high levels of footfall within constrained and complex urban environments. They have a wide variety of different and competing user groups and modes of transport. High streets have peak usage times in the morning, lunch time, late afternoon and at the weekend as well as seasonal variations in numbers of pedestrians. It is within high streets that conflict in achieving physical distancing is most likely to arise.

Figure 2: Physical distancing interventions in high streets and town centres
aerial sketch illustrating street scene of high street or town centre area

Typical temporary interventions to consider for high streets and town centres:

1. Widen footways by utilising the carriageway

2. Reduce traffic speeds using traffic calming measures

3. Pedestrianise and consider impact on traffic movement

4. Suspend on street parking to facilitate other measures whilst maintaining appropriate provision for disabled people

5. Minimise pinch points, whilst taking into consideration security and the needs of disabled people and older people

6. Safe, level crossing points

7. Seating areas for disabled people and older people

8. Introduce dedicated cycleways

9. Phase delivery timings in loading bays

10. Queue marking indicators on pedestrian areas, focusing queues along the building frontage where appropriate

11. Signs on physical distancing and circulation, particularly at conflict points such as junctions and crossings

12. Use existing street furniture (e.g. lampposts) for signage to avoid impacting on pedestrian flows

13. Allow space where multiple queues meet

14. Signs to limit queue length, helping manage multiple queues and pedestrian flows

15. Marshals to help manage queues and pedestrian flows

16. Keep building entrances and footpaths clear, whilst taking account of the needs of disabled people, older people and security considerations

17. Maximise access and introduce one-way entry and exit points

18. Accessible signs reminding users to physically distance at bus stop waiting areas

19. Additional cleaning regimes and maintenance

20. Signs at public toilets for queuing, physical distancing and automatic sanitising

Case study

Glasgow City Council is implementing a city-wide strategy to create spaces for people to move around safely, as well as supporting the city to reopen for the business, after being awarded £3.5 million from Scottish Government's 'Spaces for People' fund. The first stage involves street-by-street changes to the city centre, in order to prioritise pedestrian space around transport hubs, core shopping streets and identified pedestrian pinch points.

Measures include the reallocation of 25 kilometres of kerbside road lanes in the city centre for walking and cycling and the creation of temporary cycling routes. Additionally, one-third of the city centre's 2,000 on-street parking spaces will be suspended in the short term.

Key thoroughfares outside of the city centre have been closed to vehicular traffic to allow greater space for people undertaking daily exercise in and around Kelvingrove Park and the new Clydeside pop-up cycle lane which provides a lane for cyclists travelling west, and runs for 1.5 miles between Saltmarket and the Clyde Arc.

Neighbourhoods with high pedestrian footfall are under consideration for the introduction of similar short-term measures, including Byres Road, Partick, Shawlands, Maryhill and Dennistoun. Other neighbourhood hubs such as Pollok, Drumchapel, Easterhouse and Castlemilk will also be examined for suitability. Designs are at an early stage but are likely to involve the removal of some parking spaces to provide additional footway space for people to safely access services and public transport

4.4 Physical distancing in enclosed or semi-enclosed retail areas and outdoor markets

Enclosed and semi-enclosed retail areas are likely to have high peak time footfall levels and restricted access and exit points. In addition, they will have delivery and servicing requirements. Outdoor Markets should be planned and set-up to allow for 2m (6ft) physical distancing, spacing between stalls, queuing and the safe flow of people along with appropriate hygiene measures.

Hygiene

It is important that hand hygiene is considered in areas with outdoor markets and stalls. This includes:

  • Making hand sanitiser and hand washing facilities available, ensuring they are at an accessible height.
  • Setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets to ensure they are kept clean and physical distancing is achieved as much as possible.
  • Taking special care for cleaning of portable toilets.
  • Provision of more regularly emptied rubbish bins for used cleaning materials.

Typical considerations when setting up outdoor markets:

  • Consider the space available for the market and, if required, any potential for enlarging the footprint by temporarily taking over additional pedestrianised areas where possible.
  • When taking over additional pedestrianised areas, make sure footways are not obstructed, taking into account the needs of those with wheeling and mobility needs, visual impairment or other disabilities.
  • Keep adjoining building entrances clear.
  • Consider phasing market setting-up and business opening times and deliveries to minimise impact on the public realm.
  • Space and locate stalls whereby 2m distancing can be achieved or otherwise, create physical separations by the use of physical controls or barriers, arranging stalls back-to-back or staggering them.
  • Maximise access and introduce clear one-way entry and exit points with accessible signage.
  • Provide queue markers and waiting zones.
  • Consider the needs of disabled people and older people, who may not be able to stand for long, in the provision for queuing.
  • Accessible signage and information provided at widened entry and exit points.
  • Phasing access and opening times.
  • Consider catering for vulnerable groups with access during dedicated opening times.
Figure 5: Physical distancing interventions in enclosed or semi-enclosed retail areas and outdoor markets
aerial sketch illustrating physical distancing interventions in enclosed or semi-enclosed retail areas and outdoor markets

Typical temporary interventions to consider for retail areas and outdoor markets:

1. Queue marking indicators and barriers outside main entrance. Such markings should incorporate tonal contrast and, where appropriate, tactile markings

2. Maximise access and introduce one-way entry and exit points

3. Phasing of access and opening times

4. Keep building entrances clear

5. Identify waiting zones

6. Phase delivery timings in loading bays

7. Signs on physical distancing and circulation

8. One-way circulation for street markets

9. Queue markings for street stalls

10. Signage and information provided at widened entry and exit points for markets

11. Spacing between stalls

12. Clear demarcation between queues and people flow

4.5 Physical distancing in public places around commercial buildings

The public spaces around commercial buildings will typically be around office buildings, office developments and business parks. The ownership of these spaces is likely to vary, with many spaces associated with private landowners. The use of these spaces will be heavily influenced by the working patterns of the tenants of these offices. Commercial spaces will typically have higher volume and density of use at the start of the working day particularly 8-9 am and at the end of the working day between 5-6 pm. Owners and operators should be aware that businesses and other commercial operations may implement staggered opening times to support the facilitation of physical distancing in public spaces or on public transport. Any changes to opening hours / hours of operation and the impact this may have on foot traffic in public spaces should be considered.

Figure 6: Physical distancing interventions in areas around commercial buildings
aerial sketch illustrating physical distancing interventions in areas around commercial buildings

Typical temporary interventions to consider for commercial areas:

1. Queue marking indicators outside office entrances

2. Maximise access and introduce one-way entry and exit points

3. Phasing of access and opening times

4. Keep building entrances clear

5. Widen footways by utilising the carriageway

6. Phase delivery timings in loading bays

4.6 Physical distancing in areas surrounding transport hubs

The areas around transport hubs typically include bus stations, train stations and tram stations. These areas may have high levels of footfall with large numbers of people congregating and waiting. There is typically interchange with other modes of transport like taxis, cycle hubs and private car use. Scotland's Transport Transition Plan provides separate guidance to help transport operators keep their staff and those using their services safe and should be read alongside this document (link can be found in the Appendix).

Figure 7: Physical distancing interventions in areas around transport hubs
aerial sketch illustrating physical distancing interventions in areas around a transport hub

Typical temporary interventions to consider for transport hubs:

1. Develop a zonal plan for station hub highlighting destinations, conflict zones, drop off points and desire lines

2. Queue marking indicators and barriers outside main entrance. Such markings should incorporate tonal contrast and, where appropriate, tactile markings

3. Maximise access and introduce one-way entry and exit points

4. Allow space where multiple queues meet

5. Identify waiting zones

6. Signs on physical distancing and circulation

7. Taxi, bus, cycle and pick up to have waiting zones with identified routes through

8. Consider reallocation of station forecourt to provide more space for interchange. Consider appointment of marshals to help manage the flow of people into, and out of transport hubs


Contact

Email: chief.planner@gov.scot