Three north-east cycle groups have written to Aberdeen City Council’s co-leaders urging them to reconsider the removal of cycle paths at the beach.
Aberdeen Cycle Forum, Grampian Cycle Partnership and Scottish Cycling North East Grampian have joined forces to pen a letter to the local authority, as well as its co-leaders Douglas Lumsden and Jenny Laing.
A decision was made last month at the city growth and resources committee to scrap the segregated cycle path at the beach, after work to install it began in August.
They were part of £1.76m Spaces for People measures installed across the city.
The groups hope that the decision will be reversed, and that the design can be improved on, instead of removed completely.
The letter, which has been signed by all three groups, states: “The city council’s own masterplan (CCMP) goal is to create a “cycling city” and to reallocate road space to other users now that the AWPR has been completed. And yet at the first test of introducing any meaningful and useful cycle lane, councillors have voted to remove it before it has even had time to be properly tested.
“We are at a loss to understand why, but it would appear to be a decision to placate a vocal minority of motorists who are no longer able to step straight from their vehicles onto the pavement. If there was a need to address safe unloading of vehicles, it seems to us it would have been relatively easy to implement some simple modifications, most obviously to increase the width of the buffer strip between parked vehicles and the cycle lanes.
“To propose the total removal of the cycle lane between Bridge of Don and the Beach Ballroom is illogical, a waste of public money, and appears to be a knee-jerk reaction to a perceived problem that could have been easily resolved through dialogue and consultation.”
Gavin Clark, from Aberdeen Cycle Forum, said: “We are dismayed at this decision. We are still in the middle of a pandemic where social distancing is as vital as ever.
“The paths at the beach will facilitate this not just at the beach but across the city by taking the pressure off other modes of transport such as buses.
“The road is sufficiently wide to accommodate the cycle path without removing any parking spaces. It has also resolved a long-standing issue with speeding as the narrower carriageway has slowed the speed of traffic. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Meanwhile, Colin Allanach from Scottish Cycling North East Grampian, added: “Another reason given for the removal of the path is supposedly poor usage. However the council’s own papers show that cycling has increased significantly in the area, including by children, and people getting more active. It’s still early days for this path and we believe even more people will use it if it’s embraced and well promoted.
“The wider issue is the lack of a coherent city-wide network. It is still difficult to get from the city centre (or anywhere) to the beach by bicycle. But as the number of segregated paths grows, more cyclists will use them. The beach esplanade route is an excellent foundation for a wider network which makes it all the more tragic to see it taken away.”
Aberdeen City Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden, who is convener of the city growth and resources committee, said: “As convener of the committee, I had put forward that the bike path should remain in place until February but unfortunately I never had the support for that.
“I would like to see a cycle lane path at the beach, not in the way it was done with the cones, but made permanent.
“Also up at that committee was reports on the Active travel corridor, some of them which would cover the beach.”
Aberdeen City Council said the chief executive would reply to the letter in due course.