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.

Reclaim the Streets will be postponed

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that the Reclaim the Streets event we had planned for May 2020 will no longer happen on that day due to the current pandemic. However, we have raised lots of funding from various sources and the need for cycling infrastructure in Aberdeen is not going to go away so we very much still want to hold the event just as soon as the situation allows. We have been in discussions with the council about this and have penciled in October 4th 2020; if public events are still banned at that time then as a contingency we have also asked for March 28th 2021. Neither date is confirmed at this time but we will work towards this for now while having the flexibility to change it again if needed. Cycling is more important now than ever. All team sports and physical contact between groups of people are banned but yesterday the deputy chief medical officer made a point of encouraging exercise for health and wellbeing with a specific mention that cycling is ok for adults and children, provided people use their own equipment and take all the usual precautions like hand-washing. Stay safe and keep cycling!