Scotland’s Transport Secretary has urged commuters to embrace active travel as lockdown restrictions are eased.
Michael Matheson said public transport use is expected to rise in the third phase of Scotland’s emergence from the coronavirus lockdown.
But due to the limited space on the public transport network, he has suggested people walk or cycle if they have to travel.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced changes to lockdown measures on Thursday in Holyrood, which included an increase in the number of people who can meet outside from the following day, along with the opening of shopping centres on Monday and hairdressers on Wednesday.
As the changes come into force in the coming weeks, modelling by Transport Scotland has found private car use could return to between 85% and 90% of pre-pandemic levels, compared to 65% during phase two.
Speaking after a visit to the Glasgow headquarters of energy supplier ScottishPower, where 75% of staff are continuing to work from home, Mr Matheson said: “We know that even with public transport service levels increasing and physical distancing being relaxed to one metre for some services, capacity is still significantly restricted compared to pre-Covid levels.
“This means people are being asked to continue to work from home if they can, and walk, wheel and cycle where possible.
“The obvious temptation for households with access to a car will be to take that option, however, we know many journeys are less than a few miles and could be covered via active travel, especially over the summer and autumn months.”
The number of cyclists during lockdown has increased, Transport Scotland said, with Mr Matheson pledging to continue funding for “high impact permanent infrastructure and behavioural change projects”.
He added: “Our Places for Everyone programme is delivering over 200 permanent schemes in Scotland, making towns and cities both safer and friendlier places to travel and spend time in, and our new Programme for Government will seek to build on this theme, with green economic recovery at its heart.”
Places for Everyone provides funding to community groups for the design and construction of active travel infrastructure.