Taxis to be allowed through Bedford Road bus gate

Taxis are to be allowed to Bedford Road bus gate after the City Council’s communities, housing and infrastructure committee agreed to the move today.

The members also agreed for a traffic calming scheme on neighbouring Sunnyside Road and Bedford Place, and promote a 20mph speed limit on Bedford Road.

Additional recommendations were approved after a vote and they included:-

To review the road safety provision outside Sunnybank Primary School and engage with the Head Teacher to offer access to additional road safety education resources;

To carry out necessary repairs and maintenance to the existing cycle lanes on Bedford Road;

To introduce advanced directional signage northbound on Bedford Road, near Sunnyside Road;

To investigate the feasibility of creating a left turn exit from Bedford Avenue onto St Machar Drive, with access permitted for cars registered at properties on Powis Crescent, Powis Circle and Bedford Avenue only;

To write to the owner of the Kittybrewster Retail Park requesting it considers appraising options to improve the design and layout of vehicular access to and exit from the retail park.

The report to committee said the history of the bus gate was that initially with the opening of the Diamond Bridge and the simultaneous introduction of the bus gate facility on Bedford Road, delays occurred on the A96 corridor and on Bedford Road on the approach to the Powis Terrace signalised junction.

Anecdotal reports were received of vehicles leaving the Kittybrewster Retail Park and taking forty minutes to reach the Bedford Road/Powis Terrace junction. On 31 October 2016, a petition with 3119 names was presented to a local councillor requesting that Bedford Road be reopened to traffic.

At the same time, officers had been in discussions with the owners of and businesses in the Kittybrewster retail park, the businesses submitted a letter containing financial information regarding a downturn of business. The companies involved attributed this downturn to the introduction of the bus gate however this could also be attributed towards the economic downturn within Aberdeen.

After the initial acclimatisation period, and allowing for the start of the new academic year, a review of the operation of the Bedford Road/Powis Terrace and Belmont Road/Powis Terrace signalised junctions was undertaken.

Following the data gathering and subsequent traffic modelling analysis, alterations to the signal timings at the junctions were implemented during Easter 2017, these alterations have improved the traffic flow in the area resulting in improvements to journey times.

The report said following the remodelling of the traffic signals on Powis Terrace, both Stagecoach and First Bus agree that the traffic flow is improved on the corridor, First Bus has confirmed that the punctuality of their services at the Erskine Street bus stop has improved from December and March to July.

Officers met with the Powis Residents Group which raised concerns of being “stuck” between the bus gate and a congested junction, and highlighted this issue is particularly acute when Aberdeen Football Club are playing at home as they said congestion can result in considerable delays.

The report said the annual average daily traffic (AADT) for Tillydrone Avenue is 11,591, and much of this traffic would have the opportunity to use Bedford Road if the bus gate were not in position. However, with the bus gate in place, the AADT north of the bus gate has gone from 5,896 in 2014 to 720 in 2016, and the AADT south of the retail park has increased from 6,239 in 2014 to 7,496.

The number of vehicles on Sunnyside Road has decreased from 2,253 to 1,887 AADT after the installation of the bus gate, and Bedford Place previously had restricted access at its western end, but now has 2,004.

The report said with the reduction in through-traffic along Bedford Road, there has been a noticeable change to the environment in the area.

The report said the bus gate has significantly improved the experience for cyclists particularly in the vicinity of the university. This helps to foster a cycling culture in a notable area of Aberdeen promoting cycling as a safe mode of transport for all.

It also said the bus gate, and since the opening of the Diamond Bridge, it provides priority to public transport in the area, as four additional bus services have been provided along Bedford Road. This has enhanced public transport links across the north of the city with associated benefits in the Powis and Sunnybank areas, and improved links to both the University and Kittybrewster Retail Park.