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.

The Best in Cycling Awards

The Aberdeen Cycle Forum is launching a new awards program to recognise the best in cycling in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. Enter your nomination now for the Best in Cycling Awards.

We are looking for nominations for the best piece of cycling infrastructure or the best business, school, employer, or someone who has made an outstanding contribution to promoting active travel. There’s also a category for Cycle Raspberry which is for the worst example of cycling infrastructure. We’ll share pics at the end of the competition and have a public vote!

Nominations close on the 13th December 2019.

Annual cycle count results out

An annual roadside count of commuting cyclists has been carried out by Aberdeen Cycle Forum volunteers for more than 10 years. The count takes place during morning commuting time at 16 locations across the city.

Almost 1,000 cyclists were counted but numbers are fairly static in comparison with previous years and there is no sign of the significant upward trend that campaigners would like to see and which is now happening in many other cities. Indeed numbers are 20% lower this year when compared with a peak in 2016. Two of the three top results are for Aberdeen’s traffic-free routes on the Deeside Way and the ‘Shell’ path near Abbotswell Road.

Also, as in previous years, the proportion of female cyclists is only one fifth of the total which is significant because female riders are thought to be more risk-averse. This reinforces the idea that many people feel the city’s streets are currently too dangerous to cycle on because of the volume and speed of traffic.

There is a strong case for investing in high-quality segregated routes for cyclists and experience elsewhere has shown that the return in public benefits is at least £5 for every £1 invested. However routes need to be properly designed and route priorities carefully selected.  The count data shows that some of Aberdeen’s recent investment in segregated routes such as on the Riverside, Ellon Road, and the Jubilee Bridge are not yet being well used.

Meeting with council and King Street postcards

Here are the notes from our meeting with the council on Monday May 27th. Overall it was a productive meeting with positive feedback from the council about the visualisations we commissioned.

We’ve since released the King Street design and this generated some positive media coverage – Designs unveiled for cycle lanes in Aberdeen city centre. The timing is perfect because the City Growth and Resources Committee meets on Thursday 6th June. You can see the full agenda here but point 11.3 deals with roads.

There is much more we can do like, for example, campaigning for regular car-free Sundays and school traffic-free zones. We discussed both things in the meeting and you’ll see in the notes there are currently no plans for either (with the exception of the annual “In Town without my Car” day).

Right now the focus is on King Street and we now have 500 postcards addressed to Councillor Jenny Laing to distribute for people to post.

If you are able to help with the distribution of these then please contact Rachel at rachelmmartin@gmail.com. This is just the first batch of what we hope will be many.

King Street transformed

The Aberdeen Cycle Forum is excited to release this visualisation for a bike path on King Street, Aberdeen. This follows on from our design competition for King Street which generated some very high quality, professional submissions. We took those designs, and with funding from LUSH, transformed them into a 3D visualisation.

Visualisations excite and inspire us to see what could be possible in our city. Aberdeen has enormous potential for cycling with its wide streetscapes and beautiful, grand granite buildings. It’s reasonably flat and has a climate that’s cycle-friendly all year round. All that’s needed is the right infrastructure.

This visualisation is just one possible design for a bike path on King Street. It doesn’t have to look exactly like this but what’s important is that all modes of transport have their own space – cars have their own space, bicycles have their own space, and pedestrians have their own space.

Through this visualisation we want to convey that cycling infrastructure is for everyone. It’s for men and women cycling to work, it’s for children cycling to school, it’s for people with disabilities on disability scooters, it’s for people who want to roller-blade to the shops or beach. With the right infrastructure we’ll see groups of people from our community we wouldn’t have otherwise seen, using active travel as their mode of transport.

What next? We have submitted the designs from the competition to the council along with this visualisation which was favourably received. King Street extends the Union Street bike path petition which is still before the council and which will be included in the SUMP (sustainable urban mobility plan) report the council hope to have out for public consultation next month. We’ll keep you posted!

Next we plan to print some postcards of the King Street visualisations which people can post to the council. We’ll let you know when these are available and where you can get one.

If you want to donate to our campaign then please click the donate button on our website.

Join us for a mass bike ride in Aberdeen on April 28th for #PoP2019

Where: Marischal College, Broad Street, Aberdeen
When: 28th April 2019 at 11am

The Aberdeen Cycle Forum is planning a ride in the centre of our city at the end of this month to highlight the need for segregated cycling infrastructure in Aberdeen. It’s not good enough to put cyclists in bus lanes or to erect share and care signs. To make cycling accessible for everyone we need segregated cycling infrastructure. The question we need to ask ourselves is, “Can an unaccompanied 12-year-old cycle safely here?” and if the answer is no, we have work to do.

We’ll be meeting at 11am outside Marischal College and cycling a circuit, going down Upperkirgate first. You can ride the circuit as many times as you like and can go at whatever pace is comfortable. With hundreds of us all cycling together it will be safe because of the safety in numbers effect.

Feel free to dress-up or decorate your bike. This is a demonstration about the lack of infrastructure for cycling but we want it to be fun at the same time.

Submit your design for a bike path on King Street, Aberdeen

King Street in Aberdeen is long, reasonably flat, and connects the University of Aberdeen with the city centre. However it’s congested, polluted, and frightening to cycle along. We think it should have a segregated bike path but we recognise there are challenges to putting cycling infrastructure on existing roads – what happens at bus stops and junctions? Should the cycle path be two-way on one side of the road or one-way on each side? How much space needs to be taken from motor vehicles?

We want to know what YOU think and so we’re inviting people from the community of all ages and backgrounds to submit designs for how King Street could look with a segregated bike path. There are three vouchers from Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative up for grabs for the winning entries which will be judged at the end of February by a panel of independent judges.

If you’d like to enter, head over to the competition site at https://kingstreet.awardsplatform.com/

The competition closes on the 15th February 2019 at 5pm UTC.

A segregated bike path on King Street will be a boon for Aberdeen because it will make the city more attractive to students and university staff, increasing student numbers in the long term and helping to attract and retain talented staff. With more people cycling it will also reduce congestion and pollution in the area and increase health and well-being. Ultimately we’d like to see a segregated path that connects the University of Aberdeen with Robert Gordon University.

The winning designs will be showcased on our website and submitted to the Aberdeen City Council. Obviously we can’t force the Aberdeen City Council to implement the designs but they will feed into the council’s SUMP (Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan).