A petition has been launched asking for segregated cycling tracks to be installed all along the length of Union Street in Aberdeen, with claims it could “rejuvenate” the city centre.
Rachel Martin, campaigns secretary of the Aberdeen Cycle Forum, launched the petition on Change.org on Friday, and already it has attracted more than 100 supporters.
Rachel and those backing the appeal want the Granite Mile to have its own safe areas for people to ride their bikes on, with a physical separation from motorised traffic.
The cycle forum campaigner said she hopes such a change could help to “rejuvenate” the city centre, and could result in an “artery of cycle networks that radiate out from the city centre”.
Petition launched out of ‘frustration and dismay’ with Council plans for Union Street
Rachel said she decided to launch the petition after seeing images released a few weeks ago by the city council envisioning a transformed city centre with radically altered infrastructure.
She said: “We started this petition out of frustration and dismay when we saw the council’s plans for Union Street which had no provisions for cyclists whatsoever.
“It would be a huge change to have this.
“Union Street is very long, but with cycle tracks you could go from Food Story at one end, then jump on your bike and cycle to the cinema at the other end.
“It’s a very long way to walk, but actually quite a quick journey on a bike.”
Union Street could be just the start of cycling revolution, says campaigner
Rachel said she hopes that if the petition is successful in its aims and segregated cycle lanes are installed, it could change the future of getting about in Aberdeen.
She explained: “The advantage is that Union Street is in the centre of the city, and this is where we need to start.
“We don’t have proper cycling infrastructure in Aberdeen, so we need to start here, in the middle, and built an artery network that radiates out of the city centre.
“The city centre is obviously very important and we want to rejuvenate it and bring people back, so let’s make it the central focus and from there go out to other destinations like the beach, the universities, the parks, and so on.”
Would fully segregated cycle tracks help people too scared to cycle alongside big vehicles?
“If you just put a painted line on a road, or put cyclists with buses, you’re not actually going to get any new people into cycling,” Rachel said.
She explained that one of her primary concerns with plans for the future of Union Street outlined in council plans was the prospect of cyclists needing to share road space with cars and larger vehicles like buses.
But with completely segregated cycle tracks, Rachel believes more people could be convinced to get on their bikes for their journeys through Aberdeen.
“Most of us are too scared to cycle with larger vehicles, especially buses,” she said.
“It’s very unpleasant to have a large vehicle right behind you when cycling, it’s quite intimidating and turns people off.”
What are people who signed the petition saying?
On the petition website, those who have signed up to back the appeal have explained why they feel it would be a good change for Union Street.
Many expressed their frustrations with the current state of cycling infrastructure in Aberdeen.
One cyclist said: “I move to Aberdeen from the Central Belt 14 years ago.
“Whilst Edinburgh and Glasgow have forged ahead with their cycling infrastructure, I can honestly say that nothing has changed for cyclists in Aberdeen in that time.”
Another added: “Providing segregated cycle infrastructure will improve access to the city, which will also improve the local economy.
“Allowing cyclists a space to be separate from buses and pedestrians is safer for everyone.”
And another said while he believes that Aberdeen’s cycling infrastructure is “poor, and where it does exist, it is poorly maintained.”
He added: “Come on Aberdeen City Council, try and keep up with your rivals in other councils and do something positive to encourage more active travel”.
A spokeswoman for Aberdeen City Council said: “Consultation on potential designs for city centre streetscape projects was undertaken in October and the results of that consultation will be presented to elected members at the next full council meeting in December.”
- We want a cycling city: Month two of Aberdeen cycling campaign picks up the pace
- The petition can be viewed here.