Jan 132017

With thanks to Martin Ford.

East Garioch councillor Martin Ford has welcomed progress being made towards a cycle route between Inverurie, Kintore, Blackburn and Aberdeen.

“I’m keen to see a cycle route in place all the way between Inverurie and Aberdeen,” said Cllr Ford.

Aberdeen City Council is working towards provision of a cycle route between Bucksburn and its boundary at Blackburn.

Councillor Ford has been pressing Aberdeenshire Council for a cycle route between Inverurie and Kintore so cyclists do not have to cross or use the A96 dual carriageway.

More recently, he has called on the Council to identify then deliver a cycle route between Kintore and Blackburn. And Cllr Ford along with Cllr Paul Johnston (as the Democratic Independent and Green Group of Aberdeenshire councillors) secured an extra £250,000 per year for active travel (cycling and walking) in Aberdeenshire Council’s revenue budget from 2016/17.

Between Port Elphinstone and Kintore, a good cycle route was put in place some years ago between Port Elphinstone and the Thainstone roundabout.

Last year (2016), a new cycle path was constructed between Kintore and Kintore Business Park. Cllr Ford has been pressing for the ‘missing link’ section of cycle path (between the Thainstone roundabout and Kintore Business Park) to be constructed as soon as possible, thus providing a cycle route all the way between Kintore and Port Elphinstone which does not involve using or crossing the A96.

In response to enquiries from Cllr Ford, Council officers have advised the construction of the Thainstone roundabout to Kintore Business Park section of cycle path should go out to tender this month, with the new length of path due to be complete by May 2017 at the latest.

Commenting, Cllr Ford said:

“I will be delighted to finally see cycling provision in place all the way between Kintore and Port Elphinstone. Certainly, cycling on the A96 itself is not a good experience, so having a cycle route available instead will be a significant improvement for cyclists wanting to travel between Kintore and Inverurie.”

Council officers have also confirmed to Cllr Ford that Aberdeenshire Council has appointed infrastructure consultancy firm AECOM to progress delivering a cycle route between Kintore and Blackburn.

AECOM will look at feasible options for the route, from the site of the planned railway station in Kintore to the south end of Blackburn at the boundary between Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City. They have been asked to consider cyclists of all abilities when looking at the options. A report on the feasibility of possible routes, their respective advantages and disadvantages and indicative costs will be prepared by 31 March 2017.

Council officers anticipate a report to the Garioch Area Committee will follow on 18 April 2017 for councillors to take a decision on the preferred route. Detailed design will then proceed during financial year 2017/18 so bids for funding for construction can be made in financial year 2018/19.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“I’m very pleased to see progress on a cycle route between Kintore and Blackburn. I look forward to engaging with the consultants working on the project over the choice of route, and agreeing a preferred option in the spring. I certainly want to see a route put in place as soon as possible.”

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Jun 032016

Martin Ford Cycle path featWith thanks to Martin Ford.

East Garioch councillor Martin Ford is asking Aberdeenshire Council to choose a route and build a cycle path between Kintore and Blackburn – as part of delivering a cycle route all the way from Inverurie to Aberdeen.

Cllr Ford has written to Aberdeenshire’s head of transportation, Ewan Wallace, pointing out that other parts of a cycle path between Inverurie (Port Elphinstone) and Aberdeen are either built, planned or work is at least underway to identify a route. (See letter)

“Kintore to Blackburn is the ‘missing link’ in the plans for delivering a continuous cycle route between Port Elphinstone and Aberdeen,” said Cllr Ford.

“Cycling on the A96 is really horrible, and very few people are going to choose to do that. An alternative is needed for those who would like to cycle, or walk, for example between Kintore and Blackburn.”

A cycle path exists between Port Elphinstone and the Thainstone roundabout and one has just been built between Kintore and Kintore Business Park.

Aberdeenshire Council is planning to build a cycle path on the east side of the A96 to join the cycle path from Port Elphinstone at the Thainstone roundabout with Kintore Business Park. Aberdeen City Council has just been awarded £30,000 by Sustrans towards the cost of route identification and preliminary design work for a cycle link between Blackburn and Aberdeen.

At its budget meeting in February, Aberdeenshire Council allocated an additional £250,000 to ‘Active Travel’ in its revenue budget for 2016/17. (1)

Cllr Ford said:

“Active Travel is a priority for Aberdeenshire Council which can deliver health benefits, help reduce traffic congestion and cut greenhouse gas emissions from road transport.”

A report at the most recent meeting of Aberdeenshire’s Infrastructure Services Committee showed an allocation of £210,000 for active travel projects ‘yet to be identified’. (2)

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“I’m pleased Aberdeenshire Council has allocated additional funding for active travel and pleased work is planned on delivering other parts of a cycle route between Inverurie and Aberdeen. So I believe it’s time for Aberdeenshire Council to identify a route for a cycle path between Kintore and Blackburn and progress that.

“There is certainly a need for a suitable cycling route all the way between Inverurie, Kintore, Blackburn and Aberdeen.”


1. The additional money for active travel is a condition of the ‘confidence and supply’ agreement between the Democratic Independent and Green Group councillors and Aberdeenshire’s coalition administration.

2. Infrastructure Services Committee meeting 12 May 2016, Item 8 ‘Programme for Active Travel and Road Safety’, page 11. The report is here.

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May 132016

Martin Ford Cycle pathWith thanks to Martin Ford.

East Garioch councillor Martin Ford has welcomed progress on the new cycle path planned to connect Kintore with Port Elphinstone and Inverurie.

The intention is to have a cycle path adjacent to the A96 on the east side of the trunk road all the way between Kintore and Port Elphinstone.

The construction of the section between Kintore (starting by the entrance to the Overdon Care Home) and Kintore Business Park was agreed by the Garioch Area Committee in January. Work on this section is now almost complete.

Cllr Martin Ford said:

“A good cycle path between Kintore and Port Elphinstone will be a great help to anyone who cycles – or who would like to cycle – between Kintore and the Inverurie area, whether for recreation, to go shopping or to commute to work.

“The new section of path between Kintore and Kintore Business Park looks great. I shall continue to press for the planned linking cycle path between Kintore Business Park and the Thainstone roundabout to be built as soon as possible.”

Following representations from Cllr Ford, a feasibility study was undertaken in 2012 into the possibility of a cycle path between Kintore and Port Elphinstone entirely on the east side of the A96 over the full length of the route. There is currently a cycle path on the east side of the A96 between Port Elphinstone and the Thainstone roundabout.

Between Thainstone and Kintore until now though, there has been nothing for cyclists on the east side of the A96 – just a very poor path adjacent to the A96 on the west side of the road. Therefore, anyone wanting to cycle between Kintore and Port Elphinstone/Inverurie has had to cross the A96 dual carriageway near Thainstone or cycle part of the way on the trunk road itself.

Council officers are working on resolving remaining issues to enable a cycle path to be built between Kintore Business Park and the Thainstone roundabout.

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Feb 042016

By John Fraser.

AWPR John Fraser

It is with dismay that we watch our beautiful countryside being ripped up for the new Aberdeen bypass here at the Burn of Muchalls.
We are also keenly aware that it is only the start.

Soon we will have 20000 cars passing us, when before it was more like 20, along with all the pollution, fumes, noise and litter.

Our little burn is now constantly full of mud and plastic from the site, industrialising our once unspoilt piece of countryside.

The boast goes that this 36 mile is something to be proud of but is it really? It is the longest possible route destroying thousands of acres of arable farmland, areas of wild habitat and mature trees, disrupting the wild life and the people who live on it, creating a development corridor which is already taking shape (urban sprawl), and encouraging people to use cars. Is this really something to be proud of?

There appears to be no acknowledgement of the loss.

It is already well known that city bypasses create more traffic. A report says Aberdeen will be as congested in 2030 as it is now. A combination of solutions could have benefitted the environment in the city and surroundings.

Forward looking cities like Copenhagen have managed to reduce car usage massively making their city a much healthier place to live. We are now much more aware of the damage that exhaust fumes cause to peoples health, yet, we are still building major roads with more in the pipeline.

The bypass could have been much shorter. Money could have been put into cycle routes and a good integrated public transport could have been created. Instead, 2 billion is being spent on a road.

We hear a lot about the plight of the Tiger, Elephant and Whales to name just a few but our very own Hedgehog is in danger of disappearing all together down from an estimate of 35 million in the 60s to less than a million now the grey partridge the brown hare the salmon and brown trout all in critical danger of slowly disappearing these are all iconic animals of our land this is borne out by simple observation. People have become used to not seeing these creatures so it has become normal. But in fact, it is a crisis.

Taking in the bigger picture the Earth’s systems are all struggling to cope with the constant and growing demands on her. The sea is polluted with plastic, chemicals and even radiation whilst the air carries all sort of toxins and harmful particles. Our soils are being lost through erosion, roads, mining and many more kinds of developments, and everyone knows about deforestation.

Mining of ores which this road will use is a source of large scale environmental destruction, pollution and displacing of people and animals.

The Earth can heal, regenerate and recover from all sorts of damage. It is a natural process to regenerate, but has to be given time to do so.

Science tells us that the earth has been evolving for perhaps billions of years and humans and other life forms for a relatively short time but still a long period of time and now in our time we have the potential to degrade our home to an unimagined state and this has come about mainly during the last two hundred years. In trying to create a technological wonderland, we are creating a wasteland.

What is peoples’ relationship with our planet? We share many of the same genes with all of life. More and more, science is finding that everything is connected and the destiny of our human and non human communities are connected to the Earth. The air, water and ground is our commonality. We cant simply think it will take care of itself – we have long passed that situation.

If we could find a new connection with the Earth where all life, human and non human, and the land above and below is the effective operating principle in all our human institutions, professions, programs and activities, we would soon bring healing to our damaged planet. This is bound up with our personal relationship to our home. Do we see it as a precious gift?

It is up to everyone to decide what is really important in life and act on that.

John Fraser
Bridge of Muchalls.

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Oct 212013

Voice reader Frank Paterson has been moved sufficiently by Fin Hall’s recent article on traffic management, Bipeds, by-passes and bye-bye responsibility, to add his own views. ‘It’s good for Aberdeen Voice to publish an article on such an important and contentious issue’, he says. Thank you, Frank.

Traffic Congestion. Picture Credit: Ian Britton.  http://www.freefoto.com/preview/41-17-With the greatest of respect to the writer, the article is a good reflection of mainstream NE thinking on transport, in grousing about congestion but failing to suggest ways of dealing with it, apart from demanding more road building.
This, as previous Voice articles have explained, will only exacerbate the problem.

This really is vital issue as the growth in road traffic is presenting an enormous threat to the environment and economy of Aberdeen.

Far more importantly however, it is disastrous to people’s health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has announced that air pollution is officially a cause of lung and bowel cancer.

The writer urges Aberdeen drivers to be more considerate without taking into account Aberdeen’s transport system’s role in causing poor behaviour. The system is not only a complete embarrassment, but is also completely dysfunctional.

It appears to me that the article was unkind to George Kilbride, who was only attempting to action what transport managers throughout the world know to be the only viable solution to congestion and pollution, that is, modal shift in transport use. With sufficient political will this is achievable, as can be demonstrated by examples from many world cities.

unwillingness to change lifestyles is the root cause of the discontent expressed

However, experience shows that attempting to accommodate the current problems of motor transport by demand management, which has been the case up till now, results merely in the relocation of congestion.

This continues to be the case with the proposed AWPR and Third Don Crossing.

The footprint of cars and goods vehicles is too large, and fuel combustion too great, for individualised motorised travel. An aspiration of many is to drive the largest of vehicles but fundamentally there is not enough room within Aberdeen, and air quality is too poor, to accommodate current traffic comfortably, let alone more and larger vehicles.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Local Transport Strategy 2012 states (Para 8/28):

The guiding principle of the LTS aims to encourage individuals to change their travel behaviour. If we are to succeed in achieving this, our citizens must feel comfortable and safe whether walking, cycling or using public transport or when choosing to drive”

Transport professionals are clear on what must be done, but politicians are afraid to act, so an unwillingness to change lifestyles is the root cause of the discontent expressed in the previous article. Anger and bewilderment will increase along with congestion until the inevitable restrictions on car use are enforced by necessity of space and clean air.

However, the perennial congestion at Aberdeen’s traffic pinch points demonstrates how much inconvenience car users are willing to endure before shifting to more sensible modes of travel.

Like the public smoking ban, the occupation of public highways by tons of steel and the discharge of combustion waste into the air people breathe, will need to be curtailed eventually. This will be necessary for everyone’s benefit, despite the inevitable outcry.

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Oct 112013

The other week, Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing caused a bit of a fuss by stating that the road system in Aberdeen was ‘an embarrassment and the worst in Scotland’. With his eyes firmly on the road ahead, our man in the driving seat, Fin Hall continues.

Taxis. Credit: Fred WilkinsonBarney Crockett, whose name incidentally comes up as Blarney with spell checker,
was outraged at these comments.

And rightly so, since it is the Scottish Government who has overall responsibility for the trunk roads in the country.

Meanwhile, MSP Lewis MacDonald, whilst agreeing with Mr Ewing, points out that the SNP government hasn’t started the AWPR despite almost 12 months having passed since the last stage of the appeal was heard.

Aberdeenshire Council member, Jim Gifford, also has a go at the Scottish Government over the lack of money that has been spent on NE roads.

All of these points are potentially valid, but the whole thing does smack of political point-scoring.

For a start, the Labour-led council has very short memories. It was the current incumbents’ predecessors who, for many a short-sighted year, publicly stated that we did not need a bypass, and actively encouraged us to take public transport, walk, or ride a bike. This was despite the fact that councillors themselves refused to do so stating that they, ‘…needed their cars to attend meetings all over the city’.

Oh, and the rest of us don’t, eh?

Funnily enough, the man at the head of this campaign, rejecting common sense, was one George Kirbride. At the time he was not an elected official, but a very opinionated civil servant, a man whose salary was paid by we tax payers.

He actively encouraged us all to cycle everywhere just as he did, because he didn’t drive. He wanted to build cycle lanes all over the city, the first one being out Cults way, which was apparently where he stayed. This futile example of a cycle way, is a mere white line painted around 18″ from the kerb, with no vehicle parking restrictions, thus totally negating its usefulness. It stopped around Mannofield.

NE drivers must surely be amongst the worst in the country

When all is said and done, the AWPR will not be a panacea in curing all traffic ills, and although it will certainly stop a vast volume of southbound and northbound traffic coming into the city, it will not make Aberdeen an idyllic, peaceful, fresh air city.

Much of the frustration and many problems in this part of the world are caused by the state of the traffic system, but drivers must take a goodly share of the blame. NE drivers must surely be amongst the worst in the country. Just check out the annual fatality list.

Indicators seem to be an added extra on most cars purchased up here, and lane discipline at roundabouts leaves a lot to be desired.

As for no entry signs and one way streets, forget about them.

Go down Stirling Street any day and you’ll see cars going down the street rather than travel 12 feet further along and travel down Exchange Street, the proper way. I have even seen a police car do this, and no, its blue lights were not flashing.

On these streets it is not uncommon to see cars parked facing the wrong way, as the owners know that City Wardens have the remit to book only vehicles parked outwith the parking zones, not parked in them facing the wrong way.

The police, in line with their budget cuts, pay absolutely no heed, thus perpetrating the vicious circle of irresponsibility.

The road saga is indicative of attitudes in modern society. As well as living in a world where blame culture predominates, we are now developing a parallel world, possibly blame culture’s twin – the idea that it is always someone else’s responsibility to get something done, rather than getting up off your backside and doing it yourself.

The AWPR will not solve the ills of the truly inadequate road system in the area, but it will surely assist in lessening congestion slightly. Provided that is, that the powers-that-be stop designating short cuts as rat runs and sticking road humps all over the place, forcing traffic on to already over-populated roads.

And stop passing the buck, just fix it.

Drivers need to stop thinking that the rules of the road are for everyone else and not for them, or that rules are in place to make your life awkward, rather than to help traffic flow swiftly and, above all, SAFELY!

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Apr 182013

By David Innes.

The weather may not have improved much, but with the NE enjoying fourteen hours of daylight, many hardy commuters and leisure riders are adjusting their derailleurs, looking out the Lycra and getting into a decent pedalling cadence again.

Aberdeen Cycle Forum brings us its latest news.

  • Road scheme update

On road schemes which have been of concern to ACF, it’s a bit of a mixed bag news-wise.

The Council has finally agreed that the missing Advance Stop Boxes at the new signalised junctions on Stronsay Drive and Eday Road/Kings Gate and at the junction near the new Tesco on Rousay Drive should have been installed. They’ve not yet confirmed that all arms of these junctions will have an ASB so it is still possible that there will be some missing.  If you use these junctions please keep us informed.  And if you spot other new signalised junctions without ASBs, let us know.

The Council continues to refuse to widen the narrow section of the Westhill path adjacent to the new Prime 4 development at Kingswells. The Forum wrote to all members of the Development Management sub-committee when they were considering phase 2 of the development, but councillors backed the planners who are giving priority to the narrow tree belt.

Our view is that this section of path is not up to a safe standard although it is expected to serve this major new development.  An upgrade shouldn’t cost the council a penny if it was willing to tap some of the substantial developer contributions available. We will continue to press the case but if this affects you, please write to your councillor.

The straight ahead lane closure from Virginia Street to Guild Street has now been made permanent by the Council.  The Forum has met Council officials and we’ve suggested a demand responsive system at the junction to let cyclists press a button to activate a cycle phase in the traffic signal sequence.

We believe this can be integrated to the existing signals with minor impact on traffic flows.  We’re awaiting a response to a promised investigation by the Council

The Morrisons development at Lang Stracht, where we had serious concerns about the planned new junction, has hit various legal issues. If it is to go ahead, a fresh planning application will have to be submitted and ACF will try again to get a junction design that is cycle-friendly.

Better news is that work upgrading the pavement to shared use, on the north side of Great Northern Road and Auchmill Road, is underway.

A long section of uneven paving slabs is being replaced with tarmac and lining and signing will take place over the coming weeks. Two Toucan crossings have been installed, one to link to the airport path and the other to help cyclists integrate with Great Northern Road near Bank Street.

  • Vulnerable road users

Elsewhere, Cycle Law Scotland is working on Strict Liability for vulnerable road users.  See more about this on our website http://aberdeencycleforum.org.uk/index.php?pf=news.php&nid=159

  • Heading for Holyrood.

Pedal on Parliament is just over a month away on 19 May at the Meadows, Edinburgh.

POP requests

  • Proper funding for cycling
  • Design cycling into Scotland’s roads
  • Slower speeds where people live, work and play
  • Integrate cycling into local transport strategies
  • Improved road traffic law and enforcement
  • Reduce the risk of HGVs to cyclists and pedestrians
  • A strategic and joined-up programme of road user training
  • Improved statistics supporting decision-making and policy

We already know of five members of the Forum who intend going – are you? Let us know so we can represent Aberdeen at POP2. See more information at http://pedalonparliament.org/

  • Forum business

This month’s forum meeting on 30 April is the Annual General Meeting.  ACF will meet in its usual location – Committee Room 5 at the Townhouse (use the entrance on Broad Street/Queen Street, but at the earlier time of 19:00 to allow the AGM to finish before the usual Forum business.

Councillor Ross Thomson, who was selected by the Council to be the Cycle Champion, will speak during the AGM as well.  If you only make it to one ACF meeting this year, this would be a good one!

All elected positions are up for the vote, so if you’d like to take on an official Forum position, why not stand for election?  For more information about elected positions in the ACF, you can e-mail the secretary at sec@aberdeencycleforum.org.uk

As always, let us know if there is anything you see of concern or encouragement regarding cycle infrastructure in Aberdeen.

Encourage your friends to join ACF- it’s easy http://aberdeencycleforum.org.uk/index.php?pf=join_up.php

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Feb 082013

By Bob Smith.

The roddies in oor toon
Are in an affa kirn
Potholes aa ower the place
Street surfaces nae aat firm
Potholies o a descripshun
Fae kypies tae big craters
Gettin  fowk aa weel vexed
Be they teachers or roof slaters
The cooncil is cash strappit
O iss we ken richt weel
Iss is nae consolation
Tae a bodie wi a connach’t wheel
Noo some potholes richt aneuch
Hiv bin patched bi the “tarry gang”
Bit wi bad wither an the traffic
Iss disna laist ower lang
The potholes are a menace
Wi aa the trouble they bring
Be it a puncture o a tyre
Or much worse – a broken spring
Siller fer the Aiberdeen bypass
It seems cooncillors can trot oot
Yet lots o toonsers winna benefit
Jist  the fowk fae oot aboot
The ceetizens o Aiberdeen are telt
The 21st ceentury we maan embrace
Yet  the potholes in oor toon
Hiv geen cooncillors a richt reid face
Lits aa noo jist hae a think
Aboot roddies aa ower the city
Spen some o the AWPR bawbees
On potholes fit are richt shitty
So cooncillors sit doon an think
O the troubles potholes cause
Dinna pit iss aff nae mair
Grab the problem bi the ba’s
O coorse there cwid be
Anither wye fit is best
Jist cut doon on car usage
An the roads micht langer laist

© Bob Smith “The Poetry Mannie” 2013
Image Credit: Fred Wilkinson

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