Ambitious plans to improve pedestrian and cycling routes in Aberdeen, including installing a ‘Dutch-style’ junction in King Street and new car-free bridges, have been outlined.
An active travel action plan – highlighting priorities between now and 2026 – has been compiled and could be signed-off as official council policy on Wednesday.
Among the options being put forward include a so-called Dutch-style bikes-first replacement for the King Street roundabout at the bottom of St Machar Drive.
This could include advanced stop lines for cyclists, two-stage right turns and bike bypasses with a toucan crossing.
Design work on the replacement is expected to be completed by mid-March.
In Cambridge, the UK’s first Dutch-style roundabout was opened last July – after construction costs skyrocketed from £800,000 to £2.3 million.
The length of King Street could also be resurfaced with segregated bike lanes and junction upgrades introduced.
A pedestrian and cycle route crossing at Bridge Of Dee is being considered, as too is a new footbridge over the water from Torry.
Another new bridge could be built in the north of the city, over the River Don, with Park Road being eyed as a main cycling route into the city due to the HGV ban to be imposed on the street.
There are currently five options being explored for bike links from Bridge Of Don to the city centre, with others including moves similar to the rescinded Beach Esplanade changes put in place in response to coronavirus.
Installed in August as part of the £1.76 million Spaces For People physical distancing project, councillors took only two months to rule the bike lanes from the Bridge Of Don to Footdee should be lifted.
The council’s chief officer for strategic place planning, Gale Beattie, told members of the city growth and resources committee: “Since the initial round of consultation, transport and travel has been disrupted in a way that could not have been foreseen at the start of the year.
“As we emerge from this crisis, active travel has a larger part to play than ever before in opening up society again, facilitating safe and healthy movements, and contributing to economic recovery.”
‘Sensible’ to keep Spaces For People measures in place for now
Members of the committee also ordered a review of the interventions in other parts of the city, including Union Street and the city centre, Rosemount, George Street and Torry.
But council officials have warned it would be “counterproductive” to remove the remaining cones, barriers, benches and planters in light of the new Covid variant.
Mrs Beattie, and other council chiefs, warned: “It is clear that with the new variant circulating within the population and the expected rollout of the vaccine in the coming weeks and months, any change that could increase pressure on the NHS and risk delaying the rollout of the vaccine would not be advisable.
“Space and the 6.5ft recommended separation distance remain the key weapons
in the fight against Covid and one of the tools which the council is best
placed to provide.”
City growth convener and council co-leader Douglas Lumsden told The P&J: “In the middle of a lockdown, the sensible thing is just to carry on as it is.”