Help us buy Designing for Cycle Traffic for our local councils

When our local authorities design for cycling the design is often very poor: they put cyclists in shared spaces, make them dismount at intersections, or paint an inadequate line that pushes cyclists into the gutter. The Institute of Engineers (ICE) have published a book on Designing for Cycle Traffic: International principles and practice. This book by John Parkin recognises that a “bicycle is a vehicle capable of speed”. We’d like to purchase two copies of this book and give one to the Aberdeen City Council and the other to the Aberdeenshire Council.

Here are some quotes from an article about the book:

  • Shared use footways are perhaps the classic example [of poor attempts to reduce perceived or actual risk]: they create problems of their own and have no regard for cycle design speed.
  • The most important principle any designer should recognise is that ‘the bicycle is a vehicle capable of speed’. This should be etched onto the desk of every designer because its implications are huge.
  • The cycle rider is exposed to the environment through which they travel. This means that the environment has to be designed to be comfortable and attractive, and this can be achieved by careful alignment planning, and appropriate treatments.
  • A recognised significant reason limiting cycling uptake is the dominating presence of motor traffic, and motor traffic also has other negative impacts on the liveability of cities generally, such as land take, noise and pollution. Lower speed limits (20mph) may help reduce speed. To reduce volume, and create space for cycle traffic, re-engineering of area-wide traffic management schemes needs to take place. Cycle routes themselves need to be part of a comprehensive network of routes.

We are already nearly half-way to reaching the cost of one book. If you can help with a fiver or more then please visit the Go Fund Me page to donate:

https://www.gofundme.com/designing-for-cycle-traffic-books

It would be great to hand these over before the end of October. Our urban planners and politicians keep talking about how they want to “lock in” the benefits of the AWPR and they won’t be able to do that without cycling infrastructure. Let’s make sure that whatever they do is well designed for cycling.

Listen to a podcast about the book here.

 

New Chair and Campaigns and Communications Secretary

We are pleased to announce that the Aberdeen Cycle Forum has a new Chair and a new Campaigns and Communications Secretary. Gavin Clark was appointed chair at the September meeting. Here’s his bio:

Gavin Clark


I’ve been involved with the Forum to a greater or lesser extent since its early days, becoming Secretary in 2015 and now Chair/Convenor.

I’ve lived in Aberdeen since 1996, but having grown up just 40 miles away I’m almost a proper local. My first memories of cycling here, as a student in the early 1980s, are of being knocked off by a right-turning car on George St, and of having a wheel stolen from my bike outside the University. Unfortunately those are experiences which students today are still likely to have!

To me, cycling is a cheap and reliable way to get around the city but also my main hobby, taking off on longer rides into Aberdeenshire’s beautiful countryside most weekends. Of course it keeps me fit and as I work for an environmental agency, the benefits of ‘clean’ travel aren’t lost on me either.

I’m lucky that half of my 3 mile daily commute is on traffic-free routes: the stretch along the River Dee opposite Duthie Park is a favourite part of my commute. But I know that cycling in the city and being mixed up in traffic can be a very unpleasant, off-putting and sometimes dangerous experience. I’d love to see that change, and in reality it has to if more people are going to get on their bikes more often.


Rachel Martin has taken on the role of Campaigns and Communications Secretary. Here’s her bio:

Rachel Martin

I’m originally from Australia but love the climate, culture, and scenery of Scotland and feel lucky to call Aberdeen my home since 2014. I got my first taste of commuter cycling as a 19-year-old living in Cambridge, UK. I was struck by how much it enhanced my quality of life – the freedom, the exercise, the independence – and have tried to recreate that in all the places I’ve lived since then.

When my children came along cycling became more challenging. Being a parent changes our perception of risk and how much risk we’re prepared to accept. My children are 11 and 8 years old and perfectly capable of riding their own bikes but our unsafe roads mean I ferry them around Aberdeen on a cargo bike. This is why I got involved in cycling advocacy: I want my children to be safe cycling around our city.

We are a car-free family who walk and cycle everywhere. For longer trips we take the train or book a car-club car. I love that active travel gives us exercise everyday without having to make a special effort to fit exercise in. It’s also free and doesn’t produce any toxic emissions. But more than any other reason, cycling is fun and I hope I’m still doing it when I’m 90.


The role of secretary is currently vacant. If anyone would like to take this on then please contact us or come to our next monthly meeting on Tuesday 30th October at 7:30pm. Venue TBA.

 

Aberdeen WalkCycleVote Campaigners’ Day

Yesterday was the Aberdeen WalkCycleVote campaigners’ day and it was a great success. About a dozen of us shared ideas about how best to campaign for active travel in Aberdeen. We discussed what’s been done in the past, what works well, and where to go next. It was also great to meet people and encourage collaborative relationships between the different groups in Aberdeen. There were speakers from Cycling UK, Sustrans, Aberdeen Cycle Forum, Nestrans, Friends of the Earth, and WalkCycleVote.

Here are some of the ideas we came up with:

  • Run a design competition for a protected/segregated bike path on King St
  • Organise a cycling inspired street art festival
  • Stage a demo to highlight pollution from motor vehicles
  • Publish a series of “Cyclists of Aberdeen” stories with photos and bios about individuals
  • Publish a series of “School run stories” about children cycling to school
  • Stencil bicycles on roads around schools to show children safe routes and also keep motorists mindful of children on bikes
  • Cycle around the city centre wearing gas masks to highlight the damaging effects of pollution from motor vehicles
  • Give chocolates to motorists to build better relationships
  • Share photos of the best streets in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire for cycling and walking

Have you got any other ideas? Please share them in the comments.

An update on the Union St bike path petition

In February of 2018, a group of us stood at the King Edward statue on the corner of Union Street and Union Terrace to collect signatures for a petition for a segregated bike path on Union St. We gathered more than 250 signatures in just one hour and the petition was submitted to the Aberdeen City Council about a week later with 433 signatures. It was a paper petition only so people had to physically write their name and address on it.

In April 2018, Rachel Martin presented the petition to the Operational Deliver Committee. The committee decided the following:

…to request that a report be brought back to the Committee in regards to the feasibility of cycle paths on Union Street, subject to consultation from the City Centre Masterplan, and to include information on a potential dedicated segregated cycle lane.

It has been more than 6 months and so we followed up with the council to see what’s going on with the petition. Joanna Murray, head of transport strategy, replied to say the petition will be considered in their Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP) and they expect to have a draft ready in the second quarter of next year. This is where we stand right now. We will follow up again in the second quarter of next year.

If this is something you support then please contact transport strategy at the city council to let them know – transportstrategy@aberdeencity.gov.uk

A visualisation of Union Street with a bike path

All new roads should have a bike path

The people of Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire gathered outside Marischal College today to protest the lack of provision for cycling on the new AWPR – a bypass around Aberdeen. The AWPR has been in the plans for decades and it was more than 20 years ago that Cycling UK argued in favour of a segregated bike path on the road, if and when it got built. The Aberdeen Cycle Forum has also always been in favour of a segregated bike path. Sadly, they built the road and didn’t put in a bike path. Not only that but the new road has made conditions worse for cyclists in the region where is crosses the much-loved Deeside Way and also the Westhill cycle path. People are angry and frustrated and turned up to have their voice heard at the protest today.

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Representatives of the media were also there: BBC Scotland Radio, The Press & Journal, The Evening Express, and STV.

We know that money is not a blocker. The money is there but the local authority needs to apply to spend it. We want this money used to build segregated bike paths so that everyone can cycle in safety and we want all new road projects to include plans for segregated bike paths in the design.

Demo – Sunday 9th September

There’s a lot of frustration in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire right now over the lack of infrastructure for cycling.  A ton of money has been spent on roads for motor vehicles but this has been to the detriment of active travel.  We deserve segregated cycling infrastructure so that people of all ages and abilities (including children) can ride bikes safely.  We want all road building developments – new builds, upgrades and road maintenance projects – to consider cycling during the design phase and for cyclists to be given greater priority. Let’s collectively communicate this message to our politicians and transport planners by demonstrating outside Marischal College on Sunday 9th September from 12 noon to 1pm.

The timing of this gathering is deliberate to coincide with the so-called ‘community event’ taking place on the AWPR.  The half-hearted and last minute limited inclusion of cycling in that event led one on-line magazine (road.cc)  to run with the headline “Is this the worst cycling event EVER”

So if you don’t feel inclined to have a wee token ride on the AWPR within the strict parameters set by the organisers, why not join us instead and send the message that cyclists don’t want to be marginalised or forgotten about when it comes to road transportation.

Cycle count results 2018

Each year,  Aberdeen Cycle Forum conducts a count of people cycling in Aberdeen City. The current counts are taken at 16 sites across the city. Previous to 2016, there were only 11 sites. The count begins at 7am continuing to 9am. Previous to 2014, the count began at 7:30 continuing to 9am.
The general trend for this year is upward, though not as sharply as previous counts. However, the count is considerably more encouraging than the numbers for 2017. As always, the count is only a snapshot of the activity in Aberdeen City.
The data includes extrapolated numbers for the cells coloured grey, the numbers will be updated when data becomes available from Aberdeen City Council.
Totals for the years 2013-2008 cannot be directly compared to the totals for 2014-2018 because of the change in the time of the count. Totals for only the original counts have been provided for those years, but only for general comparison.
The trend over the last 10 years (for the original count sites) is a drop of 41, comparing 599 in 2008 against 558 in 2018. This is even bearing in mind that the later year’s counts include a long count time, thus the actual drop will be larger.
We look forward to more insightful data in future years when we have more years’ data to compare using the longer count time and additional count positions. Full count data is available here  in table form or here in a graph.
Thank you to the members of Aberdeen Cycle Forum, Nestrans, and Aberdeen City Council that participated in this year’s count.

Pedal on Parliament – Sunday 29 April 2018

It’s almost time to ride, so before you set off here’s a few reminders about what to expect.

Please remember that the ride is on open roads and normal traffic conditions.  You are responsible for your own safety at all times and there are  no marshals to guide or instruct you.  The ride is a peaceful demonstration of our wish to ride safely on public roads. During the ride please obey traffic law and it is not our aim to disrupt other traffic

We will be putting up a few signs to alert traffic to the event, and a risk assessment has been completed here.

We hope to see you there and that the weather will be fine. Forecast is dry but pretty cool – so dress appropriately.  Hope to see you there and that it will be a lot of fun!

Further details of the route, start point and times are posted at

POP Aberdeen

And while you are visiting their page, please consider making a donation to help keep the Pedal on Parliament movement going.  Thank you.