Week-long public consultation for cycle lane plans in the beach area as part of on-going work for physical distancing and encouraging active travel

A week-long consultation is to be held into exciting plans to encourage people to continue to cycle in the beach area both for transport to work and leisure as lockdown eases.

The plans are part of a ringfenced £1.76 million grant which was awarded to Aberdeen City Council on 26 May from the Scottish Government’s Spaces for People fund to carry out temporary works in our streets to help provide space to physically distance in line with government guidance.

The grant will pay for a roll out of temporary measures to allow people to walk, cycle, and queue for buses and shopping across the city while adhering to the physically distancing guidance. Measures taking place include pedestrianisation, pavement widening, temporary bike lanes, and one-way walking.

Cycling as a mode of commuting is anticipated to increase due to continued physical distancing and with the rise in people using bikes during lockdown. Projects in Aberdeen will be aimed to rapidly expand and connect cycling infrastructure across the city to create an improved cycle network and this includes the beach active travel corridor which is from the city centre to Bridge of Don. As there is some time, a week, the City Council is asking the public for feedback which will help to finalise the designs.

Aberdeen City Council transport spokeswoman Councillor Sandra Macdonald said: “I’m pleased that we have a week to consult the public on our plans for the beach area.

“I’d encourage people particularly those who live or work in the north of the city to take part in the questionnaire as this will help us to shape the final plans – we’ve already made changes in other projects thanks to suggestions from local people so we’d really like to hear your views.”

Due to having to install the cycling infrastructure quickly as lockdown restrictions are eased and people return to work, there are limited ways to physically alter roads at the beach. Long lengths of kerb realignment are not feasible in the timescale, and instead the installation of mandatory cycle lanes can be achieved on the existing road.

The Esplanade has seen a marked increase in recreational cycling, including young and novice cyclists. In order that the works cater for this recreational demand, the cycle lanes will be placed beside the current pavement taking space from the road, and made usable in both directions, with minimal interaction with general traffic. The arrangement is commonly referred to as a bi-directional mandatory lane.

On sections of the route more associated with commuting such as Ellon Road and the Beach Boulevard, the plans show mandatory cycle lanes. For Ellon Road, there are three options under considerations:

  • Cycle lanes in both directions;
  • Bus & cycle lanes in both directions;
  • Bi-directional cycle lane on the northbound road (requires the banning of left turns from Ellon Road to Balgownie Road).

The Beach Boulevard’s existing cycle infrastructure will be upgraded and expanded with flow mandatory lanes in both directions.

Feedback from the public is being taken into consideration to help shape these plans so comments on these options and the proposals are invited at https://consultation.aberdeencity.gov.uk/planning/moving-safely-around-the-city-during-covid19.

Aberdeen City Council will continue to review, monitor, and evaluate the interventions while discussions are held with stakeholders, and when the measures are in place. The continual reviewing may mean changes to the interventions, and it is also a requirement of the fund, which is being administered by sustainable transport body Sustrans Scotland.

The works in the beach area follow on from other measures already installed on Union Street and nearby streets and Victoria Road in Torry which will help protect public health by reducing COVID-19 transmission in the city which will in turn reduce the number of cases NHS Grampian’s contact tracing team have to cope with, making their intervention easier and more effective. The temporary measures will further help the economic recovery of the city and allow people to continue to use active travel such as walking and cycling.

The program of works has been developed with NHS Grampian, transport organisation NESTRANS, and Business Improvement District operator Aberdeen Inspired, and organisations which have been consulted include city centre businesses, bus companies, taxi firms, Police Scotland, the Disability Equity Partnership, and other local groups.

The length of time the temporary measures will be in place will be determined by NHS and Government guidance for physical distancing.