Transport Scotland has re-allocated £10m to pay for 'pop-up walking and cycling routes or temporary improvements to existing routes' in order to support social distancing.
The fully-funded programme will be supported by a package of guidance to local authorities from Transport Scotland and Sustrans Scotland for improvements such as widened pavements and cycle lanes.
The news comes as cities across the world experience increased levels of cycling while the COVID-19 restrictions reduce traffic levels.
Councils across the UK are looking at reallocating road space to better enable this shift.
Transport Scotland said in a statement: 'Every year, Transport Scotland and Sustrans Scotland run the ‘Places for Everyone’ active travel infrastructure initiative – and we know the impact of COVID–19 means that local authorities will not have the capacity to design and apply for complex multi-year infrastructure programmes due to the necessary focus on responding to the outbreak.
'Up to £10m is being reallocated from the ‘Places for Everyone’ budget to deliver the new ‘Spaces for People’ initiative with no match funding from local authorities required, while continuing to support previously committed projects.'
Scottish cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity, Michael Matheson, said: 'I’m pleased we are able to put forward a package of support for our local authorities to implement temporary active travel measures, helping to ensure that people can walk, cycle and wheel during this public health emergency whilst physically distancing and keeping safe from traffic.
'I have written to every local authority in Scotland to advise them that the ‘Spaces for People’ initiative is designed with agility and pace in mind. Our communities need this support quickly, especially with the welcome increases in cycling we are seeing across the country.
'Infrastructure is only part of the response and I’m struck by the many organisations, including our Active Travel Delivery Partners, who are providing support to keep key workers moving and help with deliveries for those who require it. I want to give my thanks to them – please know your efforts are incredibly valued.
'For our air quality, climate, health and particularly for our mental wellbeing at this time, walking and cycling remain our most beneficial form of transport.'
John Lauder, deputy CEO at Sustrans Scotland said: 'It’s clear that people across Scotland want to do the right thing during this COVID-19 crisis. They want to look after their physical and mental health. They also want to make sure that they are keeping to physical distancing guidelines while still being safe on our streets. The ‘Spaces for People’ programme will allow that.'
For information on available support for key workers please visit: https://www.sustrans.org.uk/campaigns/cycles-for-key-workers/
For cycling advice please visit: https://www.cycling.scot/covid19-information/cycling-advice
For more information on how the Scottish Government is building an Active Nation please visit: https://www.transport.gov.scot/active-travel/developing-an-active-nation/