Fighting prejudice

Sometimes it feels like there’s a lot of anti-cycling sentiment in Aberdeen. Cyclists are our husbands and wives, our children and parents, our brothers and sisters, which makes the prejudice all the more distressing and frightening, especially when it fuels aggression from motorists.

With this in mind the Aberdeen Cycle Forum has started a social media campaign to change attitudes towards cyclists. We want to focus on the benefits of cycling not just for the cyclist but for the whole community. Here are some of our messages:

You may see these messages in your social media feed and we encourage you to like and share them. You’re also welcome to download and use them yourself and if you have any suggestions for more like this then please get in touch.

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.

Physically distanced demo at the beach tomorrow

We’re doing all we can to challenge the removal of the Aberdeen beach segregated cycle lanes. In normal times we’d organise a protest but with the current restrictions mass gatherings are banned and with good reason. Instead we’re going to encourage people to use the cycle lanes tomorrow from 12 – 2pm. We’re going to be there and will have a dozen or so Aberdeen Cycle Forum-branded snoods to give away. We can toss one to you from two metres away!

If you haven’t written to the council about the cycle paths yet then we encourage you to do so. You can find contact details here.

Now more than ever we need to redistribute road space to active travel. Cars take up an amount of space that’s disproportionate to the number of people they can move which is in many cases just one or two people per car.

We know the segregated bike lane was made with ugly orange bollards but they were temporary. The lanes could be made permanent into something like this:

Source: https://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2020/06/22/first-pictures-of-how-new-seafront-cycle-lane-could-look-released/

This is a huge improvement on what was there which is four lanes for cars.

Frustration with council plans to remove beach cycle path

The Aberdeen Cycle Forum is dismayed to see the city council is planning to remove the cycle lanes at the beach. The segregated cycle path was installed less than two months ago using money from the Sustrans Spaces of People fund as a way to allow for social distancing during this pandemic.

The beach path was the very first of its kind in the city and provided hope for cyclists that this would be the start of a connected network of paths. Aberdeen city currently accommodates cyclists poorly and the environment on the roads can feel hostile and dangerous. This presents a barrier to people and discourages them from cycling.

You don’t have to be a cyclist yourself to benefit from cycling infrastructure. People who replace trips by car with trips be bike lower the carbon footprint of the community, reduce expenses for the NHS, and lower air pollution in the city. This benefits the entire community.

If you’re as disappointed as we are by the council’s decision then please write to your local councillor. You can find emails at the links below:

You can find your local councillor at this link: your councillor
Email the transport spokesperson: Councillor Sandra Macdonald
Email the transport strategy team: transport strategy

We recommend emailing all three. If you live in Aberdeenshire then just use the second two emails.

More cycling lessons planned for October

The Aberdeen Cycle Forum has been organising cycling lessons for adults. We started in August and have put on 6 lessons and Dr Bikes so far. They’ve been a terrific success and we’ve had an overwhelming response from people wanting more so your wish is our command and we have booked in two more dates for lessons in October. Lessons are capped at four people each so please reserve your spot at the links below. We will have a Dr Bike at both events . The instructors and Dr Bike are provided by Adventure Aberdeen.

October 17th Hazlehead Park

Beginners 9:30am
Refresher 11:00am

October 31st Duthie Park

Beginners 9:30am
Refresher 11:00am

Here’s some of the feedback we’ve had so far:

Fantastic lessons. Chris our teacher was quite knowledgable and very good. I enjoyed getting to know my bike and learning to ride.

Thank you so much for such a great opportunity, it was a great lesson, the teachers were patient and superb. Thanks to the organisers.

The funding for these lessons comes from Cycling UK and Paths for all.

Cycling lessons and Dr. Bike

The Aberdeen Cycle Forum is putting on a series of cycling lessons along with a Dr. Bike. The first two lessons in the series were last Saturday, 29th August. It was heart-warming to see beginner adult cyclists get their first taste for cycling and to experience the thrill that comes with it. Those of us who learnt to cycle as kids take it for granted when we’re adults but there are many adults today who never had the opportunity to learn when they were young.

Adventure Aberdeen provided the instructor and the Dr Bike while Aberdeen Cycle Forum was able to pay the costs using funding from Cycling UK’s Big Bike Revival, Paths for All, and the fundraising we did for our Reclaim the Streets event which got cancelled due to the pandemic.

The next set of lessons and Dr. Bike will be at Hazlehead Park on the 12th September. The lessons are already all fully booked up but subscribe to our blog so you’ll be notified if we add some more.

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Active travel to school: a Welsh case study

We were very fortunate to have Dafydd Trystan speak at our meeting on Tuesday night on developing an active travel plan for a Welsh school. It was inspiring to hear what they have achieved which is less than 5% of parents driving their children to school. These are numbers we can only dream of in Aberdeen but if it can be done at one school in another part of the country then there’s no reason it can’t be done here. We just need to find the political will.

The benefits of active travel are too great to ignore: children who walk or cycle to school perform better at school and children who have clean air to breathe are physically healthier. Air pollution from vehicles causes all sorts of problems for young bodies from asthma to heart disease and cancer. We adults owe it to this young generation to create an environment in which they can thrive.

You can read more about Dafydd’s case study at The Ysgol Hamadryad Story.

A vision for Market Street

Last year the Aberdeen Cycle Forum got some funding to create two visualisations of streets in Aberdeen with a cycle path. It costs a lot of money to create these visualisations and so we wanted to choose two streets that, if they had a segregated cycle path, would have a huge and positive impact on cycling in Aberdeen.

We chose King Street for the first one and the release of that image gave the impetus for a successful campaign which sent hundreds of postcards to the city council. The city council even included our visualisation in their Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP).

Today we are officially releasing our second visualisation which is for Market Street.

We felt Market Street was important because we repeatedly get feedback from cyclists that it’s unsafe to use. It’s a key corridor between Torry and the city centre and provides a link to the train station and Union Square. It also gets a lot of HGVs which are particularly dangerous for cyclists. For this reason a bike path on Market Street is essential if Aberdeen is to become a cycling city. The street is certainly wide enough for a bike path. In the visualisation we’ve taken one lane away from private motor vehicles and split it in half for a bike path on either side.

Bike paths on Market Street, Union Street, and King Street would provide a safe corridor for active travel from Torry all the way to the Bridge of Don – in just three streets. It could connect the train station with the University of Aberdeen, Union Square with the city centre, Torry with the Aberdeen Sports Village and so much more.

As part of our campaign for Market Street we’ve got hundreds of postcards addressed to the city council. Please grab one, sign it (add your address if you want a reply), put a stamp on it, then post it. You can pick one up from Newton Dee, Foodstory Café, or Nature’s Larder. If anyone would like to help distribute them then please get in touch with Rachel (rachelmmartin@gmail.com).

The winners are …

We announced the winners of our Best in Cycling Awards for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire at the Belmont Filmhouse on Tuesday evening this week. It was a terrific turnout and wonderful to see so many different people and organisations working hard to improve conditions for cyclists. Big thanks to everyone involved and a big congratulations to all the winners and nominees. There are lots of fantastic initiatives happening and it was a difficult choice for the judges.

Best Business

Bike Remedy, Stonehaven

“Bike Remedy Stonehaven is a friendly locally-owned and run bike shop who give an excellent service.When I bought a bike from them last year they couldn’t have been more helpful. I’ve also used their workshop a couple of times and been pleased with the results.They are supportive of local clubs and provide a free bike doctor at the Mid-summer Beer festival Sportive. I think they also support other local chairty rides such as the Tour de Catterline.”

Best Employer

The University of Aberdeen

“The University of Aberdeen has shown commitment to all forms of active travel and is particularly keen on encouraging cycling.They have run various events and projects this year to support cyclists and help more people to take it up. Cycling features heavily in the Sustainable Travel Plan and they work closely with beCyCle, a bike library and workshop that is hosted on campus, to support our university community to gain access to bicycles and confidence-boosting cycle training.This year both the university and beCyCle worked to lend out more than 200 bicycles to students and staff at the university.
The University has also organised a ‘Lock it or Lose it campaign’ to deter bike thieves and encourage secure locking of bicycles. In the past, we have given away free ‘Sold Secure’ locks and cycle helmets at its ‘Bike Safety & Security’ events with Grampian Police and provided a competitive cycle to work scheme for staff.
The university has also successfully been awarded numerous cycling grants and has used this fund to promote cycling by offering more than 50 Dr. Bike sessions to staff and students, and more than 10 inclusive cycling sessions, weekly led rides and finally set up an eBike fleet for their staff to use.”

Best New Cycle Infrastructure

Deeside Way

“Deeside Way is an absolute treasure! It’s long, reasonably flat, passes beautiful scenery and landscapes, and the council recently removed some problem tree roots so the surface is very good.”

Best Public Cycle Parking

ASV Aquatics

“Leaving my darling bike outside can be difficult sometimes, but I really appreciate the cycle parking facilities at the ASV aquatics centre. It’s convenient enough to the door, it’s sheltered for rainy days, and there are comforting signs about CCTV monitoring. There are always lots of bikes there, too, so I know that while I’m in the pool, my bike is going to have a great time with its many bicycle friends. “

Best School

Hazlehead Academy

“I think that Hazlehead Academy is a great cycle-friendly school and nominate it for the school award.
Firstly, Hazlehead Academy was recognised as Aberdeen’s first Cycle Friendly Secondary School by Cycling Scotland. back in 2016. In addition to being an Eco-School with a recognised focus on encouraging active travel choices to get to school, it also sits in a great geographic location with a catchment area that has allowed pupils to have the choice to safely and easily cycle to school. As well as having the highest percentage of pupils cycling to school in the city, they also support”

Cycle Hero

Shaun Powell

“Shaun is an absolute storm of a man who has ridden up and down Aberdeen and shire setting up so many wonderful cycling projects and pop- ups. He has worked (often single-handedly) to improve cycling for the most vulnerable in our communities.This year Shaun has worked to set up an inclusive cycle hub in Peterhead and Moray, whilst working on setting up an inclusive cycle hub in Seaton Park. He has also run pop up sessions with inclusive bicycles at Seaton Park, Newton Dee, University of Aberdeen and various other locations. I truly believe this man is a hero! “

The Cycle Raspberry

Every dashed white line pretending to be a cycle path

And a group shot with the winners: