Signalised junction to be installed on Broad Street

A signalised junction is to be installed on Broad Street at the Upperkirkgate/Gallowgate junction after it was agreed at Aberdeen City Council’s operational delivery committee today.

The design is to be discussed and agreed with key stakeholders and funders before any work can take place. The construction of the £3.2million City Centre Masterplan project was carried out by Chap Construction from May 2017 to November 2018 in conjunction with project partners, Muse Developments and Sustrans.

It was designed to transform and revitalise the street by making it a pedestrian-orientated space, improving the streetscape, and turning it into an area capable of staging events throughout the year.

A report to committee said the design for Broad Street includes the illuminated dancing fountains, trees and benches, improved lighting, and a raised grass area offering flexible event space in front of Marischal College, and it also included a paved roundel - a mini-roundabout – where Upperkirkgate and Gallowgate meet.

The report said on 29 June 2016, the Council agreed at committee that Option 2 (buses, cycles and pedestrians only) was the preferred option for public realm intervention on Broad Street.

The improvements for the street were to improve accessibility, maintain the provision of bus routes, reduce traffic, improve the public realm space, improve safety, promote healthy living, have a flexible event space and, improve the setting of Marischal College.

The report to committee said the scheme was designed in accordance with guidance at the time. It is important to note key changes to guidance following the detailed design for the project was completed and construction was already underway which include:

  • In January 2018, CIHT released Creating Better Streets: Inclusive and Accessible Places, which advised the phrase “shared space” is unhelpful as it covers a broad variety of street design. It suggests categorizing schemes as “Pedestrian Prioritised Streets”, “Informal Streets” and “Enhanced Streets”. The document also mentions “courtesy crossings” which are defined crossing points;
  • Sustrans published a new position on shared space and people-prioritised streets in June 2018;
  • DFT Local Transport Note 1/11 document was published in 2011 but subsequently withdrawn in July 2018, and replaced by “Inclusive Transport Strategy, achieving equal access for disabled people.’;
  • Based on the updated guidance, Broad Street and Upperkirkgate would now be classed as an “Informal Street” as they still have defined footway and carriageway.

While the Disability Equity Partnership was not in place during the initial design phase of the project they were engaged through the final design and construction phase, gathering feedback and identifying areas of concern. In terms of designing for those with sensory disabilities and mobility issues, consideration was given to colour, texture and the overall design of the footways and carriageways so they are distinguishable. Informal pedestrian crossing points are identified with tactile paving on the footway and are paved in a contrasting material to assist in identifying them to people with visual impairment.

Training and awareness sessions were carried out with the bus operators First Bus and Stagecoach prior to the area being reopened to traffic.

A road safety audit – an evaluation which is carried out during design development, at the end of construction and post-construction, to identify road safety problems and to suggest measures to eliminate or mitigate any concerns – has deemed the area to be safe.

Of the 21 recommendations, 19 have been implemented and two are in the process of being carried out. The first is demarcation between the pedestrian and vehicle space at the roundel on the corner of Upperkirkgate, and a design solution has been agreed in principle with the Disability Equity Partnership and await agreement on materials for ordering. Bollards are to be erected on both sides of the north entrance to Broad Street to force bus drivers to avoid driving over the tactile.

The report to committee said no formal safety incidents have been reported by Police Scotland since the road reopened to traffic in August 2018. Council Officers have noted one collision, reported in the media, which resulted in a charge of dangerous driving by Police Scotland.

Stakeholder engagement including disability groups and local shops and public surveys were carried out in the months after the scheme had opened. As a result of the feedback and the changes in street design legislation, four recommendations were put forward, and were today agreed.

  1. Install features along the north side of Upperkirkgate, to demarcate between the pedestrian and vehicle space – the types of features are numerous and further discussions are required to finalise these.
  2. Improved pedestrian crossings at Upperkirkgate/ Gallowgate following further consultation with stakeholders on best practice - officers to consult nationally with stakeholders, other local authorities and Transport Scotland with regards to adaptation/ modification of “shared spaces” to take account of vulnerable users
  3. Feasibility study on improving the green space and landscaping
  4. Improve signage - in conjunction with Sustrans, simplified totems are created that are specifically designed to be road safe, which clearly inform drivers that they are entering Marischal Quarter.