Image of motorway by Ellis Garvey

Seminar: Urban Traffic Problems – should road capacity be increased, reduced, or reallocated?

In Aberdeen there have for many years been proposals affecting road capacity, with the Berryden corridor, and current proposals on Union Street and South College Street. The controversies about these have been equally long. But Aberdeen is not alone in such discussions – there is experience in other towns in Scotland, the rest of the UK, other countries in Europe and indeed other continents.

This seminar is aimed at better understanding how these controversies have evolved over recent years, and especially the experience of what works and what does not. We have invited an expert who has not been directly concerned with the discussions in Aberdeen, but has a wide experience of how similar ideas have been tried elsewhere, to add a wider context to our discussions.

He is Professor Phil Goodwin, a leading academic from University College London, the University of Oxford, and the University of the West of England, who has been an adviser to the DfT and the European Commission, and carried out research on the effects of road building, reallocation of road capacity, public transport, walking and cycling. In the seminar he will give an introduction with plenty of time for full discussion of the implications for Aberdeen.

The seminar will run from 1pm – 2pm on the 28th January. It will be virtual, by Zoom, and participants should register in advance at by clicking the button below.

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.