Councillor Martin Ford accepts Designing for Cycle Traffic

This morning we handed over one of the crowd-funded copies of Designing for Cycle Traffic to the Aberdeenshire Council. We met with Councillor Martin Ford at the start of the new cycle track at Kintore beside the A96. The new path goes all the way to Port Elphinstone and there are plans to extend it in the other direction to Blackburn.

 

Cllr Ford seemed pleased to accept the book and wants to increase active travel in the region through investment in the right infrastructure. We recognise that designing for cycling is challenging, especially after decades of prioritising cars, which is why we hope this book will be helpful.

We want cycling to be inclusive and something anyone can do including women, children, men, the elderly, and people with disabilities. But to reach this goal we need the right infrastructure and with the right infrastructure we can open up cycling to groups of people who otherwise wouldn’t do it.

Cycling can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, lower pollution levels in the air we breathe, improve our mental and physical health, lower road maintenance and parking costs, reduce congestion, and if you cycle as part of your daily commute, you can eat that second piece of cake, guilt-free. What’s not to love about that?

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

Q&A with Cycling Development Officer

At our January meeting we were pleased to have a Q&A session with Kathryn Mackay who is Cycling Development Officer working at Nestrans in a post created almost 2 years ago, jointly with Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils, and with support from Sustrans.  A summary of the discussion can be seen here.

Cycle count 2015 – results

This year’s cycle count took place on 12, 13, and 14 May. The days were cold, but mostly sunny.  We were not sure whether folks had switched over from winter to summer in their cycling habits since the spring has been so variable. After discussions following last year’s count, we decided to start the process at 7:00 am instead of 7:30. The volunteers generously picked up the extra half hour so that we would have data from both the old time period and the new one. If the new time period is taken forward, we will continue to count the full two hours for an additional two years in order to have comparison data during a transition period. The count did reveal that there are greater numbers of commuting cyclists at certain locations at the earlier time period. However, for some positions the 90 minute window of 7-8:30 did not vary greatly from the 7:30-9 window. Unfortunately, the cycle count is down the year compared to the large numbers counted last year. However, similar dips have occurred in previous years.  Looking at a three year average of ’13-’15 to ’10-’12 the trend is definitively upwards. The full breakdown of numbers can be found here . Aberdeen City Council joined in the effort again this year and added five new sites to this year’s count in locations where new infrastructure has been installed or will be installed.  We hope to see these numbers go up as the options for cycle transport become better connected. Finally, a huge thanks to our volunteers who helped with Cycle Count 2015!

Thank you for supporting PoP Aberdeen

It’s been a couple of weeks since our very first ‘PoP Aberdeen’ ride. We hope you were as pleased to see it happen as we were.   Such a stroke of luck to get some sunshine in that week of rain!

We had more than 100 riders leave Hazlehead Park and we had cyclists joining us seemingly from every corner – some even joined from side streets on Union Street itself! At Marischal College, we were met by some of you who couldn’t cycle on the day as well as MP Dame Anne Begg, Councillors Neil Cooney, John Corall, Ross Thomson, Gordon Townson, and Ian Yuill.  We were able to have a chat with them about cycling in Aberdeen – both conditions now and what we’d like to see for the future.

We had some press coverage, maybe you’ll spot yourself in the photos!

The Citizen article is no longer online, but here are ones from the Press & Journal and the Evening Express:

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeen/557369/aberdeen-cyclists-gear-up-for-demonstration-at-marischal-college/

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/news/aberdeen/560689/cyclists-pile-pressure-government-taking-streets-aberdeen/

http://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/news/local/aberdeen-rally-ride-highlights-safety-for-cyclists/

There was some wider coverage of Pedal on Parliament – here’s the BBC article:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-32446845

Thank you to everyone who shared information to get the word out about the ride, thank you to those who rode along, thank you to those who met us at Marischal, and thank you to the group of ACF members that worked so hard behind the scenes to make it happen.

We’re not sure what date we’ll choose for next year’s ride, but we will definitely be making a tradition of this.   We’ll let you know as soon as possible about a date for 2016!

Consultation on Haudagain bypass

Consultation on proposals for a bypass of the Haudagain roundabout, August 2014

This is a note of our meeting with consultants looking for comments on the proposals for a Haudagain ‘bypass’. This note of the meeting was written by the consulatants and is open for comment before we respond.
The note of the meeting is available here and we welcome your feedback and any comments.