New bus lanes are being considered for North Deeside Road between Aberdeen and Banchory.
Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councils are currently looking at ways to improve transport along the A93 North Deeside Road transport corridor.
They are looking at 18 miles of road, all the way from Corsee Road in Banchory in the west, to the end of the A93 at the junction of Wellington Place and South College Street in Aberdeen to the east.
As part of this work, a “multi-modal” transport study has been carried out to identify and appraise potential options for improving how people travel along this stretch from Banchory to Aberdeen’s city centre.
The study has looked at all sorts of changes which could be made, and had a particular focus on making travel better for those who get about by foot, wheelchair, bike, or bus.
Today, Aberdeen councillors agreed to instruct officers to carry out a more “detailed appraisal” of some key options for transport improvements from the study, including new bus lanes, segregated two-way cycle routes, and more for the A93 along North Deeside Road in the city.
Why are bus lanes being considered for North Deeside Road?
An Aberdeen City Council report says improving public transport in the north-east, as well as active travel options like cycling and walking, supports “a number of the council’s strategic priorities”.
These include ensuring there is a “sustainable economy”, a “sustainable transport system”, and a “high-quality environment”.
The council says making it easier to travel by bus and bike contributes to the “continued health and prosperity of our citizens, and reductions in carbon emissions to help meet our net zero requirements and targets”.
Bus lanes could improve journey times for bus passengers.
Although officers will be looking at all sorts of options at this very early stage, “key options” being looked at include:
- Two-way segregated cycling infrastructure along the A93 in Aberdeen City.
- A shared “footway” on the A93 between Culter and Banchory.
- Cycling infrastructure along the High Street in Banchory.
- Eastbound and westbound bus lanes along the A93.
Bus lanes ‘not practical given the width of North Deeside Road’ says Tory councillor
Tory councillor Duncan Massey, of the Lower Deeside ward, raised concerns about the prospect of bus lanes on North Deeside Road in the city at today’s council meeting.
He put forward an amendment asking for his fellow councillor’s support in stripping bus lanes out of any considerations for the future of the A93 in Aberdeen.
However, his amendment was voted down by 10 votes to three.
Mr Massey said in the meeting: “They’re not wanted by local people, they’re not practical given the width of the North Deeside Road, and they do not add any benefits whatsoever to bus times.
“This is fairly clear in the initial appraisal report, and very clear from community feedback, and should be screened out.”
He added: “The point of an initial appraisal is it’s a screening exercise, and when you find something that doesn’t work, you should screen it out.”
Labour’s Sandra Macdonald said: “I can’t support taking out the bus lanes as a Labour group at this particular time.”
She added: “The bottom line is we’re trying to achieve less people in their cars coming in and out on that corridor.
“I would pose that more people should be using the Number 19 bus or any Stagecoach bus that’s available on that route.
“That’s the aspiration we as a city want to do, we want people to use public transport more and to get people walking and cycling.”
Council co-leader says he ‘struggles to see’ how North Deeside Road bus lanes would work, but says process must be followed
Ian Yuill, co-leader of Aberdeen City Council, told the P&J that he “absolutely understands” why Mr Massey wanted to stop looking at the potential of A93 bus lanes, but insisted the right thing to do is to “follow the correct process” and assess the idea properly later on.
However, he said he’s not convinced that drivers will be needing to contend with bus lanes along North Deeside Road in Aberdeen any time soon.
Mr Yuill said: “At the moment, I struggle to see how bus lanes would work on the A93 as currently laid out within Aberdeen.
“But, I’m very happy to support the council staff carrying out the proper processes to assess all the different options and then come back to councillors with their recommendations for preferred options to go forward.
He added: “On good chunks of the A93 in the city, you couldn’t fit bus lanes and car lanes.”
What about Aberdeenshire?
Although councillors in Aberdeen today voted for officers to go and assess the A93 plans for the Granite City, Aberdeenshire councillors are still to have their say on the options, including any bus lanes, along the transport corridor outside of Aberdeen.
A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council said: “Having been consulted on the report, Aberdeenshire Council acknowledges the outcome and will progress those actions where officers have delegated authority to do so within current policy, subject to resource availability.
“However we will be reporting the outcome of the A93 corridor study to our infrastructure services committee in May as part of our strategic transport update report.”