Don't be an Idler

The winners are …

We’re very pleased to announce the winners of the Aberdeen Cycle Forum’s No Idling competition. We received over 50 entries and they were all fabulous which made the judging very difficult. Nevertheless the judges voted for their favourites and we chose three winners and printed two banners.

The judges

Gavin Thomson from Friends of the Earth
Cllr Sandra Macdonald from the Aberdeen City Council
Heather Dickson – art teacher
Elizabeth Martin age 11
Daniel Martin age 14

The Aberdeen Cycle Forum also had final say as we had to select images that would print well and were sufficient resolution for printing.

The winners

The unanimous favourite from all judges was a very resourceful design by Alexander Petrov from Cults Primary School. Alexander created a 3D poster using materials from his environment. Because we were unable to print this one onto a banner we awarded Alexander a £20 gift voucher at Alpine Bikes, an Aberdeen Cycle Forum snood, and a certificate. Great job Alex!

The second winner was Ellis Routledge from Milne’s High School in Elgin. Our young judges in particular liked this image. Ellis has received a large waterproof banner with his design on it.

And coming in third was this design by Daniel Fox from Cults Primary School. Daniel has also received a large waterproof banner with his design printed on it.

Thank you to everyone who entered. We enjoyed seeing all the terrific designs and hope the students enjoyed making them.

Don’t be an idler! competition

The Aberdeen Cycle Forum has launched a “Don’t be an idler!” competition for school pupils in the north east of Scotland. We want students to design a banner encouraging their parents and caregivers to turn their car engines off when the car is stationary.

It’s an offence in Scotland to leave your car engine running but more importantly, it’s harmful to our children’s health. Children are particularly vulnerable to exhaust emissions because they absorb more pollutants per pound of body weight than adults do.

Here’s what car fumes do to children. They can cause asthma and allergies, damage the growth of their lungs, raise the risk of heart disease and cancer, damage the development of their brains, and even pass into the bloodstream of unborn babies.

We want students to design a banner for their school gate, church, drama hall, etc, that convinces adults to turn their engines off and help keep the air clean for growing bodies. The winner will receive a large outdoor banner with their design featured which they can then hang proudly wherever car engines gather.

Let’s keep our children healthy and safe. Please turn off your car engines while you wait.

Image of children inhaling car exhaust fumes.

Duthie Park – A cycle audit

Last year when we started up our programme of lessons for beginners, Duthie Park was the obvious place to go because there is lots of space and plenty of wide, well-surfaced and mostly flat paths.  The park is generally a great place to cycle, especially for kids, learners or just less confident cyclists who want to stay away from traffic. But could it be better?  There is hardly any cycle parking, and the layout of the access points is far from ideal.

We’ve produced a cycle audit which hopefully captures what is good but also what could be improved.  This is our second attempt at an ‘audit’ of this sort.  The first one looked at the new cycle path on Tillydrone Avenue and the Diamond bridge and you can read it – Third Don Crossing – Cyclists’ perspective.  We don’t claim to be engineers or design professionals – we’re just pointing out things that are obvious to a cyclist but maybe not to everyone else.

Maybe you know somewhere that would benefit from a cycle audit?  Send us your ideas, or even better, do your own one!

Fighting prejudice

Sometimes it feels like there’s a lot of anti-cycling sentiment in Aberdeen. Cyclists are our husbands and wives, our children and parents, our brothers and sisters, which makes the prejudice all the more distressing and frightening, especially when it fuels aggression from motorists.

With this in mind the Aberdeen Cycle Forum has started a social media campaign to change attitudes towards cyclists. We want to focus on the benefits of cycling not just for the cyclist but for the whole community. Here are some of our messages:

You may see these messages in your social media feed and we encourage you to like and share them. You’re also welcome to download and use them yourself and if you have any suggestions for more like this then please get in touch.

Keeping Aberdeen beach cycle lane is a win-win for everyone

We have written a joint letter along with Grampian Cycle Partnership and Scottish Cycling North East Grampian to Aberdeen City Council in a plea to reverse the decision to remove the segregated cycle path on the beach esplanade.

The new cycle path is a first of its kind for Aberdeen, creating a safe space for cycling that is physically separated from the carriageway. The path was installed with funding from the Scottish Government’s Spaces for People programme, which aims to help people safely distance from one another whilst they walk, wheel or cycle.

We are still in the middle of a pandemic where social distancing is as vital as ever. The paths at the beach will facilitate this not just at the beach but across the city by taking the pressure off other modes of transport such as buses.

The road is sufficiently wide to accommodate the cycle path without removing any parking spaces. It has also resolved a long-standing issue with speeding as the narrower carriageway has slowed the speed of traffic. It’s a win-win for everyone.

One of the reasons given for the removal of the paths is the difficulty motorists are having unloading their cars. The council could address this issue with simple changes such as increasing the width of the buffer zone between the cycle path and the car parking. We’re keen to work with the council to improve the design and make the scheme work for all.

Another reason given for the removal of the path is supposedly poor usage. However the council’s own papers show that cycling has increased significantly in the area, including by children, and people getting more active. It’s still early days for this path and we believe even more people will use it if it’s embraced and well promoted.

The wider issue is the lack of a coherent city-wide network. It is still difficult to get from the city centre (or anywhere) to the beach by bicycle. But as the number of segregated paths grows, more cyclists will use them. The beach esplanade route is an excellent foundation for a wider network which makes it all the more tragic to see it taken away.

Physically distanced demo at the beach tomorrow

We’re doing all we can to challenge the removal of the Aberdeen beach segregated cycle lanes. In normal times we’d organise a protest but with the current restrictions mass gatherings are banned and with good reason. Instead we’re going to encourage people to use the cycle lanes tomorrow from 12 – 2pm. We’re going to be there and will have a dozen or so Aberdeen Cycle Forum-branded snoods to give away. We can toss one to you from two metres away!

If you haven’t written to the council about the cycle paths yet then we encourage you to do so. You can find contact details here.

Now more than ever we need to redistribute road space to active travel. Cars take up an amount of space that’s disproportionate to the number of people they can move which is in many cases just one or two people per car.

We know the segregated bike lane was made with ugly orange bollards but they were temporary. The lanes could be made permanent into something like this:

Source: https://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2020/06/22/first-pictures-of-how-new-seafront-cycle-lane-could-look-released/

This is a huge improvement on what was there which is four lanes for cars.

Frustration with council plans to remove beach cycle path

The Aberdeen Cycle Forum is dismayed to see the city council is planning to remove the cycle lanes at the beach. The segregated cycle path was installed less than two months ago using money from the Sustrans Spaces of People fund as a way to allow for social distancing during this pandemic.

The beach path was the very first of its kind in the city and provided hope for cyclists that this would be the start of a connected network of paths. Aberdeen city currently accommodates cyclists poorly and the environment on the roads can feel hostile and dangerous. This presents a barrier to people and discourages them from cycling.

You don’t have to be a cyclist yourself to benefit from cycling infrastructure. People who replace trips by car with trips be bike lower the carbon footprint of the community, reduce expenses for the NHS, and lower air pollution in the city. This benefits the entire community.

If you’re as disappointed as we are by the council’s decision then please write to your local councillor. You can find emails at the links below:

You can find your local councillor at this link: your councillor
Email the transport spokesperson: Councillor Sandra Macdonald
Email the transport strategy team: transport strategy

We recommend emailing all three. If you live in Aberdeenshire then just use the second two emails.

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).

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.

Awards and postcards

We’re looking for nominations for the Best in Cycling Awards for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. You can make your nomination here – Best in Cycling Awards. We know that Aberdeen has a long way to go before we can truly claim to be a cycling city but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate and recognise the people, businesses, employers, and schools that are trying now to improve conditions for cyclists. It could be great cycle parking or showers for employees or something else. We also have a cycle raspberry category for the worst infrastructure. Make your nominations here. Entries close on the 13th December.

We’ve also still got postcards left for the King Street cycle path campaign. These are all addressed to the Aberdeen City Council and we want as many as possible to reach the council this month because councillors will be voting on the SUMP (sustainable urban mobility plan) in November. If you haven’t posted one to the council yet then please do so. The postcards are available at Foodstory Café and Newton Dee. If you can distribute some postcards then please contact us and we can give you a larger batch.