A north-east cycle group has spoken of its disappointment at a decision to remove cycle lanes from Aberdeen beach.
Aberdeen City Council’s City Growth and Resources committee decided to remove the Spaces for People measures at the beach, which run along the Beach Esplanade and Beach Boulevard and feature dual cycle lanes.
The party’s city growth and resources spokesman Ciaran McRae said: “These measures are necessary to facilitate physical distancing and that requirement still exists but we felt the measures at the beach were excessive and the cycle lanes will be removed.”
Chairman of the Grampian Cycle Partnership Tom Collier has extended an invitation to all elected members to join him for a bike ride around the city to help “understand the consequences of their actions”.
He said: “Grampian Cycle Partnership is astonished by Aberdeen City Council’s decision to remove the cycle lanes at Aberdeen beach. The lanes were introduced both to encourage active travel during the pandemic and in response to city residents’ change in behaviour at the peak of lockdown, where levels of cycling markedly increased.
“Against the backdrop of national policy seeking to address climate change, these lanes were welcomed as a progressive measure in meeting the local authority’s policy objectives in relation to climate change and in making Aberdeen a better place to live, work and enjoy leisure time.
“Despite a vocal minority, cyclists and non-cyclists alike have responded positively to the introduction of these lanes.”
Mr Collier branded the decision “disastrous” and said the north-east continues to lag behind cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow when it comes to decision making around active travel.
He said: “The City Council’s own estimate indicates increasing numbers of cyclists are using the route and there has been a corresponding increase in trade for beachfront cafes.
“Although we acknowledge the temporary nature of the Spaces for People infrastructure, we strongly feel that its premature removal represents a disastrous decision by Elected Members and that an adequate period of time has not elapsed in order to assess the effectiveness or utility of these lanes.
“It is beyond disappointing that in the north-east of Scotland, decision making about active travel continues to lag behind cities like Edinburgh & Glasgow, who have adopted a forward-thinking and person-centred approach to city planning and active travel that incorporates public health, well-being and climate considerations.
“The vote to remove these cycle lanes reflects Aberdeen City Council’s lack of commitment to their own active travel strategy and the squandering of an opportunity to transform our city.”
Meanwhile, Rachel Martin, campaigns and communications secretary for Aberdeen Cycle Forum, said: “I’m dismayed by the decision. The path hasn’t even been there for two months.
“We’re still in the middle of a pandemic where social distancing is required. We still have a climate crisis that requires us to lower our emissions and we still have poor air quality.
“By replacing trips by car with trips by bike cyclists are reducing the carbon footprint of our community, they are improving the air quality of our city, and reducing expenses for a heavily burdened NHS.
“Everyone benefits when more people cycle, not just the cyclists themselves. We should be doing everything we can to encourage and support cycling, not removing the only segregated path in the city.”
City growth and resources committee convener Douglas Lumsden said: “All the Spaces for People measures were put in without consultation, they were all done as temporary measures.
“At city growth and resources committee there were three reports on active travel, including Bridge of Don to the city centre.
“I’m sure the cycle groups will contribute into these.”