Work continues tomorrow on changing road layouts to allow better physical distancing for pedestrians

Work continues tomorrow to create more space for pedestrians to allow them to better physically distance while walking or standing in queues in city centre streets.

The temporary measures will allow local residents and people who work in or visit the city to walk, cycle, and queue for buses and shops, bars, and restaurants while adhering to physical distancing guidance and support the NHS.

The measures will also help protect the public’s 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 measures will further help economic recovery of the city and also help people to use active travel such as walking and cycling.

The works are being carried out by Aberdeen City Council after a ring-fenced £1.76million grant from the Scottish Government’s Spaces for People fund which is being administered by Sustrans, and measures taking place in several locations around the city include temporary pedestrianisation, pavement widening, and bike lanes.

The city centre, and Union Street in particular, faces challenges because pavements are not wide enough to accommodate the current 2-metre level of physical distancing.

The works starting tomorrow includes installation of new signs, hard barriers, double yellow lines, along with removing irrelevant signs and adding cones to streets in Chapel Street, Rose Street and Thistle Street, Upperkirkgate, Schoolhill and Union Street to widen pavements. Additional sections of road in these areas will be pedestrianised. The pedestrianised areas will be pedestrianised at all times and service vehicles only will be allowed access on these pedestrianised areas from 6pm to 10am. Regular traffic will not be allowed at any time.

City centre traffic must re-route to free up carriageway space for businesses, pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users. Motorists are advised to plan their journey in advance talking appropriate routes which avoid Union Street to access city centre car parks.

Aberdeen City Council transport spokesperson Councillor Sandra Macdonald said: “It’s great to see the work continuing in the city centre to allow pedestrians to physically distance and encourage people to cycle.

“The temporary measures will allow people to move and queue for shops safely around the city centre away from traffic which in turn will help the social and economic recovery of the city.

“The health and wellbeing of residents is at the forefront of our minds as we make these changes to city centre streets during this public health emergency.”

The program was 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.

NHS Grampian Director of Public Health Susan Web said: said “Helping people to maintain physical distancing and avoid overcrowding in indoor areas remain vitally important for the foreseeable future to prevent a second wave of infection, so these changes are a necessity to protect the health of people in the city.”

As part of consultation with the public, an online questionnaire is available at https://consultation.aberdeencity.gov.uk/planning/physical-distancing and people are invited to take part. Consultation with the public will be carried out throughout the temporary measures, along with monitoring of user/traffic numbers and consultation with local businesses.

Aberdeen City Council will continue to review, monitor, and evaluate the interventions while discussions are held with stakeholders. 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 length of time the temporary measures will be in place will be determined by NHS and Government guidance for physical distancing.