New data has revealed the extent of how coronavirus has changed the way people move around in Aberdeen.
The Aberdeen City Council figures show traffic is slowly creeping back up to pre-lockdown levels and visits to the city’s parks and green spaces have rocketed.
As more rules have become relaxed, there has been a distinct change in the number of people out on the streets.
The highest proportion of traffic pre-lockdown was noted on the A944 West of Kingswells, with the second highest on Wellington Road, followed by the Lang Stracht.
The current level of traffic in these areas is estimated to be at 81% of the previous levels.
The figures have been released in the urban realm taskforce transport data report, which is planned to be updated weekly.
It states: “Immediately following lockdown on the 23rd March 2020 vehicle traffic at the monitored sites dropped to 34% of pre-lockdown levels on the local road network.
“Since that date, after an initial decrease, traffic has steadily been increasing with the current week ending 5th July, showing vehicle traffic at 81% of pre-lockdown levels.”
In the week from June 28 to July 5, vehicle traffic increased by 5%.
On the A90, immediately following lockdown, traffic dropped to 46% of pre-lockdown levels on the trunk road network.
Since then, levels have been steadily increasing, and the week ending June 7 showed that vehicle traffic had reached 76% of pre-lockdown levels.
Meanwhile, the number of pedestrians on the street per day has increased in several places in the city compared to last year.
More than 800 pedestrians on average each day were logged between July 1 and July 5 at the Beach Esplanade, compared to an average of 500 a day in July 2019.
Similarly, more than 900 people a day visited the Duthie Park section of the old Deeside Railway line in the first five days of July, compared with just under 600 people the previous year.
The Peterculter section of the Deeside Way saw an average of 400 walkers a day compared with less than 100-a-day last July.
An average of 700 people a day visited Seaton Park, compared to fewer than 400 last July.
The report adds: “A comparison with July 2019 shows the current daily number of pedestrians, for the sites monitored, has risen to 126% of the levels recorded in July 2019.”
Meanwhile the daily average in cycling has also increased 160% on last year.
The highest changes were recorded at Duthie Park, where daily numbers were recorded as more than 500 a day on average for the first five days of July, compared to around 350 per day in July 2019.
A larger proportion of cyclists at the start of July were also recorded at the Beach Esplanade, Deeside Way Peterhead, Ellon Road north of Balgownie and east of Balgownie, Seaton Park and Skene Road.
In Auchmill Road and Wellington Road, the average number of cyclists using the route daily stayed about the same.
The report adds: “A comparison with July 2019 shows the current daily number of cycle users, for the sites monitored, has risen to 160% of the levels recorded in July 2019.”
Air pollution across some of the busiest streets in the city have dropped – particularly on Union Street.
Despite the number of pedestrians increasing, footfall in Aberdeen city centre decreased in all areas – dropping to around 35% of the level for the same period in 2019.
The highest falls were recorded in Market Street, Union Street, Belmont Street and Upperkirkgate.
Aberdeen Cycle Forum’s campaign secretary Rachel Martin said: “It’s brilliant to see such a significant increase in cycling in Aberdeen. It confirms that the biggest barrier to cycling is the perceived risk of cycling on roads with cars and when most of those cars are removed people feel confident getting on their bikes.
“It’s also terrific to see the huge reduction in air pollution, especially along King Street which has suffered from poor air quality in recent years. This is especially significant at a time when we have a virus floating around that causes respiratory disease and we know that pollution from motor vehicles exacerbates respiratory illnesses.
“We need to maintain this momentum to make sure things don’t revert back to how they were before the lockdown.”