Reclaim the Streets 2020

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:

There will also be adult cycling lessons 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.

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 cyclists, not discourage them.

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

Cycling lessons

Last Saturday we had the very great pleasure of organising cycling lessons for adults using funding from Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival. It was a wonderful success! Watching people who have never ridden a bike before getting a taste of the thrill that comes with cycling was very rewarding.

As you can see from the photos, Aberdeen put on some fine weather for us 🙂

We had two groups of lessons running concurrently: one for absolute beginners and another for adults who have not ridden for a while and who want to get back into cycling.

We’ve had some wonderful feedback from participants.

Big thanks especially to our own member, Nathan Gore, who ran the cycling refresher sessions. And thanks also to Emma Roberts from Cycling UK for helping to make this possible, Sally Duthie from Adventure Aberdeen for running the beginner sessions, and our member Tally Yahya for instigating the process.

Cycling lessons for adults

We’re very pleased to announce that the Aberdeen Cycle Forum has received funding from Cycling UK to run some cycling lessons for adults. These will be held in the morning on Saturday 28th September from 9am – 12pm.

We’ll run two sessions in parallel – one for absolute beginners who have never ridden a bike before and another for people who know how to ride but haven’t ridden for a long time and want to brush up on their skills. A bikeability instructor from Adventure Aberdeen will be taking the lessons along with one of our own members, Nathan Gore, who is a bikeability volunteer.

Get your tickets online but hurry because places are limited. It’s completely free thanks to Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival!

9:00 – 10:30am Beginner cycling 1
9:00 – 10:30am Cycling refresher 1

10:30am – 12:00pm Beginner cycling 2
10:30am – 12:00pm Cycling refresher 2

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.

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.

Pedal on Parliament 2019 recap

I’m a bit late getting this recap post up but that shouldn’t be interpreted as an unsuccessful event. This year’s Pedal on Parliament was the best I’ve been to and this was largely due to the different route we did. Instead of cycling in one direction from A to B we cycled a circuit around the centre of town.

We all met outside Marischal College at 11am on Sunday and cycled first down Upper Kirkgate, then left onto Union Terrace, left onto Union Street, left onto Broad Street and back to Marischal College. We cycled this circuit over and over for one hour. I think I cycled 6 or 7 laps. I lost count at about 5. Others probably cycled more because I do remember being overtaken a few times.

There were just over 100 of us – people from Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, of all ages, shapes, and sizes and riding all kinds of bikes. There were cargo bikes, electric bikes, tandem bikes, and even a couple of cool-looking Eliptigos. There were children with the youngest being 6 years old.

Erkine Logan Photography took some wonderful photos of the event and I’ve been given permission to share some of these.

Here’s a group shot:

Some of the children (and adults!) helped spread the message using chalk:

On the Monday after Pedal on Parliament we were featured in a double-page spread in the Evening Express.

Was it a success? In terms of enjoyment value, definitely! Will we see positive action from the local authority? If I didn’t think it would help then I wouldn’t bother and I would give up all hope. I do think these events are important and collectively, with other campaigns, they will help to steer direction towards an Aberdeen that is a safe place to cycle for everyone, adults and children alike.

What’s next for Aberdeen Cycle Forum? We’ve had a great year so far with the King Street Design Competition and Pedal on Parliament. Later this month we’ll be meeting with the Aberdeen City Council to hand over the winning designs from the King Street Design Competition and get an update on the Union Street bike path petition. We also received some funding from LUSH for an exciting new project! Make sure you subscribe to our blog to hear updates about this.

Annual cycle count

On May 14-16th we’ll be carrying out our annual cycle count, something we’ve done since 2008.  The data is really useful and does show that cycling in Aberdeen has increased over the last 10 years – but not by nearly enough!   We rely on volunteers to undertake the count and need 16 people in total.  If you can spare a couple of hours early-morning (07:00-09:00) on either 14, 15 or 16thMay, please get in touch info@aberdeencycleforum.org.uk

The count locations are listed below and if you let us know your preference, we’ll do our best to work with that and get back to you with a recording form and other details.  The 2 hours can also be split up between any of the 3 days if that makes it more attractive.

Auchmill Rd (nr Chalmers bakery in Bucksburn)
Deeside Line (nr Holburn St turn off)
George St (junc with Hutcheon St)
Grammar School (junc Carden Place/Esslemont Ave)
Kings St (junc with Mounthooly Way)
Great Western Rd (Mannofield; junc with Countesswells Rd)
Queens Rd (junc with Springfield Rd)
Shell Path (junc with Abbotswell Rd)
Union St (junc with Union Terrace)
Victoria Bridge/Market St
Westburn Rd/Argyll Place
Riverside Drive Path
Ellon Road (junc with North Donside Rd)
Tillydrone (near Coningham Terrace)
Parkway (junc Scotstown Rd)
Formartine & Buchan Way (at Dyce Station)

pexels-photo-1010973.jpeg
Photo by Miguel u00c1. Padriu00f1u00e1n on Pexels.com

King Street cycleway designs

I’m thrilled to be able to finally announce the winners of The King Street Design Competition. We had some fantastic entries including from as far away as the United States. We also had some amazing designs from pupils at our very own Seaton Primary School. I think transport officers at Aberdeen City Council could learn a thing or two from Seaton Primary School students.

We are in the process of posting/giving the Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative vouchers to the winners and will also hand over the winning designs to the Aberdeen City Council.

I’m so impressed with the designs we received. A lot of thought has gone into them. Here are the winners in the adults category.

In first place is Mark Philpotts from City Infinity. You can view the full concept as a pdf here. Mark has clearly designed something with cyclists in mind. He’s also incorporated a ‘boarder’ design to accommodate both bus stops and cycle tracks.

In second place is Christopher Wyatt with the following design. Christopher has included a bus gate on West North Street for his design. The idea for this is to prevent general traffic from making a right turn onto King Street while preserving access for buses and emergency vehicles. He’s also made use of floating bus stops. You can see Christopher’s full design here.

In the children’s category we have 6-year-old Noa in first place. We love that Noa has considered the visually impaired in his design.

For 2nd place we have a tie between Ava:

And Halo:

Thank you to everyone who entered and to our team of judges. Thanks also to Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative for donating the vouchers. The designs prove that no space is too challenging and with a bit of creativity and good design principles we can make Aberdeen a place where active travel is encouraged.

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.