More cycling lessons planned for October

The Aberdeen Cycle Forum has been organising cycling lessons for adults. We started in August and have put on 6 lessons and Dr Bikes so far. They’ve been a terrific success and we’ve had an overwhelming response from people wanting more so your wish is our command and we have booked in two more dates for lessons in October. Lessons are capped at four people each so please reserve your spot at the links below. We will have a Dr Bike at both events . The instructors and Dr Bike are provided by Adventure Aberdeen.

October 17th Hazlehead Park

Beginners 9:30am
Refresher 11:00am

October 31st Duthie Park

Beginners 9:30am
Refresher 11:00am

Here’s some of the feedback we’ve had so far:

Fantastic lessons. Chris our teacher was quite knowledgable and very good. I enjoyed getting to know my bike and learning to ride.

Thank you so much for such a great opportunity, it was a great lesson, the teachers were patient and superb. Thanks to the organisers.

The funding for these lessons comes from Cycling UK and Paths for all.

Cycling lessons and Dr. Bike

The Aberdeen Cycle Forum is putting on a series of cycling lessons along with a Dr. Bike. The first two lessons in the series were last Saturday, 29th August. It was heart-warming to see beginner adult cyclists get their first taste for cycling and to experience the thrill that comes with it. Those of us who learnt to cycle as kids take it for granted when we’re adults but there are many adults today who never had the opportunity to learn when they were young.

Adventure Aberdeen provided the instructor and the Dr Bike while Aberdeen Cycle Forum was able to pay the costs using funding from Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival, Paths for All, and the fundraising we did for our Reclaim the Streets event which got cancelled due to the pandemic.

The next set of lessons and Dr. Bike will be at Hazlehead Park on the 12th September. The lessons are already all fully booked up but subscribe to our blog so you’ll be notified if we add some more.

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Active travel to school: a Welsh case study

We were very fortunate to have Dafydd Trystan speak at our meeting on Tuesday night on developing an active travel plan for a Welsh school. It was inspiring to hear what they have achieved which is less than 5% of parents driving their children to school. These are numbers we can only dream of in Aberdeen but if it can be done at one school in another part of the country then there’s no reason it can’t be done here. We just need to find the political will.

The benefits of active travel are too great to ignore: children who walk or cycle to school perform better at school and children who have clean air to breathe are physically healthier. Air pollution from vehicles causes all sorts of problems for young bodies from asthma to heart disease and cancer. We adults owe it to this young generation to create an environment in which they can thrive.

You can read more about Dafydd’s case study at The Ysgol Hamadryad Story.

Cycling lessons for adults and Dr Bike

We’ve come to the realisation that our Reclaim the Streets event probably won’t be able to go ahead in October and maybe not even in March next year. Many of us cycle for health reasons and it’s therefore extra important for us to ensure the health of all our members so we want to do everything we can to reduce the spread of the virus which means gatherings of hundreds maybe thousdands of people at this time is not advisable. However, we’ve managed to do some great fund-raising for this event and we decided we could adapt it and run many events on a much smaller scale.

Starting at the end of August (provided COVID restrictions allow), we’re going to start the first of our adult cycling lessons. Every second Saturday for three weeks we’ll have a beginner cycling lesson followed by a refresher lesson. At the same time there’ll be a Dr Bike available for people who have old dusty bikes in the shed that need attention. Due to the pandemic these lessons will be capped at four people each so if you’re interested you must reserve a ticket to guarantee your place. Tickets are free and available at the links below.

Saturday 29th August at Duthie Park
Beginner cycling lesson 9:30am – 11:00am
Refresher cycling lesson 11:00am – 12:30pm

Saturday 12th September at Hazlehead Park
Beginner cycling lesson 9:30am – 11:00am
Refresher cycling lesson 11:00am – 12:30pm

Saturday 26th September at Seaton Park
Beginner cycling lesson 9:30am – 11:00am
Refresher cycling lesson 11:00am – 12:30pm

Bikability instructors from Adventure Aberdeen will be conducting the lessons which are for adults only. We can also provide bikes and helmets for people who don’t have one. Just let us know when you reserve a ticket.

Space for distancing

The UK and Holyrood governments have both made large pots of money available to fund new temporary infrastructure to boost walking and cycling while respecting social distancing rules.  Glasgow and Edinburgh have already implemented measures and we know that Dundee City Council are taking it seriously and applying for some of the £10m available in Scotland.  We haven’t yet heard what the Aberdeen City Council has planned, so until we do here are ten suggestions from the Aberdeen Cycle Forum.

These need to be implemented quickly. The new guidelines from the UK government make this clear:  

“Measures should be taken as swiftly as possible, and in any event within weeks, given the urgent need to change travel habits before the restart takes full effect.”

1. Keep existing pavements clear

No parking on pavements. The Council has powers to make regulations to stop parking on pavements – they’ve done it in Altens and Palmerston / Poyernook previously – let’s do it everywhere.  Employ more Community Wardens and give them powers to enforce and issue tickets.

2. 20 mph speed limit city-wide

The existing city centre 20 mph limit needs to be made much wider but it needs to be better enforced too.  Does the new City Fibre network, or 5G technology make it much more practical to have widespread urban speed detection?  When urban speed cameras were introduced in Edinburgh, speeding dropped significantly. 

3. School exclusion zones

Prohibit vehicle movements within 200 metres of all schools at the start and end of the school day, to provide a safer environment for children walking and cycling to school.

4. 40 mph speed limit on all minor rural roads

There is a fantastic network of back-roads around the outskirts of the city which provide an attractive alternative to the main corridors.  But they also have a tendency to be used as rat-runs, which is a big disincentive to cycling when the speed limit is still 60mph.  Introduce 40 mph limits for the benefit of cycling, pedestrian and equestrian use.

5. Paint is not protection – provide physical segregation

Create routes with physical separation from motorised traffic to make it safe for children and non-confident cyclists.  The UK government’s recent guidance says:

Installing ‘pop-up’ cycle facilities with a minimum level of physical separation from volume traffic; for example, mandatory cycle lanes, using light segregation features such as flexible plastic wands; or quickly converting traffic lanes into temporary cycle lanes (suspending parking bays where necessary); widening existing cycle lanes to enable cyclists to maintain distancing. Facilities should be segregated as far as possible, i.e. with physical measures separating cyclists and other traffic. Lanes indicated by road markings only are very unlikely to be sufficient to deliver the level of change needed, especially in the longer term

6. Routes need to be continuous

Cycle paths should form continuous routes between major destinations: for instance, the railway station and the University of Aberdeen, Union Square and the beach, Hazlehead Park and Union Street. Don’t create cycle lanes which stop at junctions or pinch-points, just when they are most needed.

7. Car parking is not the priority

Don’t put cycle lanes on the outside of rows of parked cars.  Suspend on-street parking or put the cycle route on the inside, away from traffic and carelessly opened doors.  Don’t allow parking in cycle lanes.

8. Make existing pedestrianised streets work.

The “pedestrianisation” of some of our city-centre streets (Belmont St, Little Belmont St, George St, Loch St) suffer from widespread abuse by motorists and ineffective enforcement by the council.  Introduce ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) enforcement, such as that used on Broad St, so that only vehicles with a legitimate reason have access.

9. More bike parking

Boosting cycling will see an increase in the need for cycle parking. To avoid cluttering up pavements with bike racks use car parks for bike parking. 

10. Keep us safe at junctions.

Motorists who go through red lights put cyclists and pedestrians in grave danger.  We need better camera enforcement of motorists breaking the law and also an advance green phase to allow cyclists to set off first (this already happens in Edinburgh).

South College Street, Aberdeen

The Aberdeen City Council will tomorrow be voting on the purchase of land on South College Street for the purposes of increasing road capacity as part of their Berryden Corridor plan. Note that the council website describes it as the “Berryden Corridor Improvement“, presupposing it as a benefit.

The Aberdeen Cycle Forum submitted a response to the plan during a consultation back in 2009. We felt that the Berryden Corridor plan was contrary to the aims of the AWPR to reduce traffic in Aberdeen city and was also at odds with the local transport strategy objective “to increase the share of travel of the most sustainable modes and to promote economic growth without associated traffic growth.” Our views are unchanged since then. Last month we submitted another objection to the proposal which you can read here – Berryden Objection.

The Scottish government published the National Transport Strategy on 5th February 2020 which sets out four priorities for transport in Scotland:

1. Reduces inequalities
2. Takes climate action
3. Helps deliver inclusive economic growth
4. Improves our health and wellbeing

Increasing road capacity for private motor vehicles in the centre of Aberdeen fails to deliver on all of these priorities, especially points 2. and 4 – climate action and improving health and wellbeing. 

The city council says they need to build this corridor to “reduce city centre traffic” and to help “develop a Low Emissions Zone within the City”. But the Berryden Corridor is contrary to both these aims because increasing road capacity generates more traffic. It’s also hard to see how increasing road capacity will help with pollution reduction. It will simply move the pollution hotspots from one road to another.

Please write to your local councillor about this plan. You can find their contact details on the council website – Your Councillors.

Reclaim the Streets will be postponed

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that the Reclaim the Streets event we had planned for May 2020 will no longer happen on that day due to the current pandemic. However, we have raised lots of funding from various sources and the need for cycling infrastructure in Aberdeen is not going to go away so we very much still want to hold the event just as soon as the situation allows. We have been in discussions with the council about this and have penciled in October 4th 2020; if public events are still banned at that time then as a contingency we have also asked for March 28th 2021. Neither date is confirmed at this time but we will work towards this for now while having the flexibility to change it again if needed. Cycling is more important now than ever. All team sports and physical contact between groups of people are banned but yesterday the deputy chief medical officer made a point of encouraging exercise for health and wellbeing with a specific mention that cycling is ok for adults and children, provided people use their own equipment and take all the usual precautions like hand-washing. Stay safe and keep cycling!

A vision for Market Street

Last year the Aberdeen Cycle Forum got some funding to create two visualisations of streets in Aberdeen with a cycle path. It costs a lot of money to create these visualisations and so we wanted to choose two streets that, if they had a segregated cycle path, would have a huge and positive impact on cycling in Aberdeen.

We chose King Street for the first one and the release of that image gave the impetus for a successful campaign which sent hundreds of postcards to the city council. The city council even included our visualisation in their Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP).

Today we are officially releasing our second visualisation which is for Market Street.

We felt Market Street was important because we repeatedly get feedback from cyclists that it’s unsafe to use. It’s a key corridor between Torry and the city centre and provides a link to the train station and Union Square. It also gets a lot of HGVs which are particularly dangerous for cyclists. For this reason a bike path on Market Street is essential if Aberdeen is to become a cycling city. The street is certainly wide enough for a bike path. In the visualisation we’ve taken one lane away from private motor vehicles and split it in half for a bike path on either side.

Bike paths on Market Street, Union Street, and King Street would provide a safe corridor for active travel from Torry all the way to the Bridge of Don – in just three streets. It could connect the train station with the University of Aberdeen, Union Square with the city centre, Torry with the Aberdeen Sports Village and so much more.

As part of our campaign for Market Street we’ve got hundreds of postcards addressed to the city council. Please grab one, sign it (add your address if you want a reply), put a stamp on it, then post it. You can pick one up from Newton Dee, Foodstory Café, or Nature’s Larder. If anyone would like to help distribute them then please get in touch with Rachel (rachelmmartin@gmail.com).

The winners are …

We announced the winners of our Best in Cycling Awards for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire at the Belmont Filmhouse on Tuesday evening this week. It was a terrific turnout and wonderful to see so many different people and organisations working hard to improve conditions for cyclists. Big thanks to everyone involved and a big congratulations to all the winners and nominees. There are lots of fantastic initiatives happening and it was a difficult choice for the judges.

Best Business

Bike Remedy, Stonehaven

“Bike Remedy Stonehaven is a friendly locally-owned and run bike shop who give an excellent service.When I bought a bike from them last year they couldn’t have been more helpful. I’ve also used their workshop a couple of times and been pleased with the results.They are supportive of local clubs and provide a free bike doctor at the Mid-summer Beer festival Sportive. I think they also support other local chairty rides such as the Tour de Catterline.”

Best Employer

The University of Aberdeen

“The University of Aberdeen has shown commitment to all forms of active travel and is particularly keen on encouraging cycling.They have run various events and projects this year to support cyclists and help more people to take it up. Cycling features heavily in the Sustainable Travel Plan and they work closely with beCyCle, a bike library and workshop that is hosted on campus, to support our university community to gain access to bicycles and confidence-boosting cycle training.This year both the university and beCyCle worked to lend out more than 200 bicycles to students and staff at the university.
The University has also organised a ‘Lock it or Lose it campaign’ to deter bike thieves and encourage secure locking of bicycles. In the past, we have given away free ‘Sold Secure’ locks and cycle helmets at its ‘Bike Safety & Security’ events with Grampian Police and provided a competitive cycle to work scheme for staff.
The university has also successfully been awarded numerous cycling grants and has used this fund to promote cycling by offering more than 50 Dr. Bike sessions to staff and students, and more than 10 inclusive cycling sessions, weekly led rides and finally set up an eBike fleet for their staff to use.”

Best New Cycle Infrastructure

Deeside Way

“Deeside Way is an absolute treasure! It’s long, reasonably flat, passes beautiful scenery and landscapes, and the council recently removed some problem tree roots so the surface is very good.”

Best Public Cycle Parking

ASV Aquatics

“Leaving my darling bike outside can be difficult sometimes, but I really appreciate the cycle parking facilities at the ASV aquatics centre. It’s convenient enough to the door, it’s sheltered for rainy days, and there are comforting signs about CCTV monitoring. There are always lots of bikes there, too, so I know that while I’m in the pool, my bike is going to have a great time with its many bicycle friends. “

Best School

Hazlehead Academy

“I think that Hazlehead Academy is a great cycle-friendly school and nominate it for the school award.
Firstly, Hazlehead Academy was recognised as Aberdeen’s first Cycle Friendly Secondary School by Cycling Scotland. back in 2016. In addition to being an Eco-School with a recognised focus on encouraging active travel choices to get to school, it also sits in a great geographic location with a catchment area that has allowed pupils to have the choice to safely and easily cycle to school. As well as having the highest percentage of pupils cycling to school in the city, they also support”

Cycle Hero

Shaun Powell

“Shaun is an absolute storm of a man who has ridden up and down Aberdeen and shire setting up so many wonderful cycling projects and pop- ups. He has worked (often single-handedly) to improve cycling for the most vulnerable in our communities.This year Shaun has worked to set up an inclusive cycle hub in Peterhead and Moray, whilst working on setting up an inclusive cycle hub in Seaton Park. He has also run pop up sessions with inclusive bicycles at Seaton Park, Newton Dee, University of Aberdeen and various other locations. I truly believe this man is a hero! “

The Cycle Raspberry

Every dashed white line pretending to be a cycle path

And a group shot with the winners:

Reclaim the Streets 2020

When: May 3rd 2020 from 11am – 1pm
Where: Aberdeen central city (see map below for circuit with closed roads)

Supported by



The Aberdeen Cycle Forum is organising a car-free event in the centre of Aberdeen on 3rd May 2020 from 11am – 1pm. We are planning to close a circuit in the centre of Aberdeen covering Union Street, Broad Street, Upperkirkgate, Schoolhill, Back Wynd, Little Belmont, Belmont. See the map below:

We will have free cycling lessons for adults and a Dr Bike. The adult cycling lessons will be split into two groups: absolute beginners and people who can already ride a bike but who want to develop confidence cycling on the roads. The Dr Bike is where you can take your bike for a health check. Electric Bikes Scotland is coming along with a fleet of electric bikes; Angus Cycle Hub will be there with bikes for people to ride (if you’re unable to bring one) as well as a collection of crazy bikes; Grampian Disability Sport will have their adapted bikes for people to try; CTC Grampian will be having their Try Cycling for anyone keen to try cycling in a group with more experienced riders.

Here’s what we hope to achieve with this event:

  1. We want to show people what Aberdeen could be like without cars and how pleasant it is to walk and visit shops and cafés in the city centre without the noise and air pollution that accompanies motor vehicles.
  2. Encourage people to take up cycling by providing cycling lessons and a Dr Bike which is where you can take your bike for a health check.
  3. Apply political pressure for cycling infrastructure in Aberdeen. One of the biggest barriers to cycling is the perception that it’s unsafe. People are afraid to cycle alongside cars, trucks, and buses and the only way to see real increases in the number of people choosing bikes over cars is to build the infrastructure.
  4. Make transport inclusive. Women and children are underrepresented as cyclists because of the perceptions of safety. By providing a safe space in the centre of Aberdeen we want to encourage cycling for everyone – women, children, men, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
  5. Air pollution in the city centre will be lower during the event due to the absence of polluting motor vehicles. This will promote health and wellbeing as well as improving the ambience in the city centre for shoppers.

To run this event we need your help. The city council charges £850 for a temporary traffic restriction order and £1,471.10 for traffic management making a total of £2,321.10. We have asked the council in previous years to waive this fee when we’ve run Pedal on Parliament but they will not. We’ve also asked them to run their own car-free day regularly. Although they organise In Town Without My Car Day once a year, cyclists are not allowed to cycle on the car-free streets and all the diesel generators at their event make it unclear whether there are any air quality benefits. We think car-free days should encourage cycling, not discourage it.

Please help us by donating to our JustGiving page – Reclaim the Streets. If 500 people donate £5 then we’d have more than enough.