Early this year I (Rachel Martin) started a petition for a segregated bike path on Union Street in Aberdeen. It was a paper petition only and most of the signatures were collected in just one hour on a crisp Saturday morning in February. I stood on the corner of Union Terrace and Union Street, at the King Edward statue, along with supporters from Aberdeen Climate Action, Cycling UK, Aberdeen Cycle Forum, Friends of the Earth, CTC Grampian, We Walk-We Cycle-We Vote, BeCycle, Foodstory Cafe, and Bonobo Cafe. Together we gathered more than 250 signatures in one hour which is more than 4 per minute and a great achievement. I submitted the petition to the council about a week later with a total of 433 signatures.
Why Union St
You might be wondering why Union Street? Aberdeen does’t have any segregated cycle paths and they’re needed everywhere so why the focus on Union Street? That’s a good question and I agree that the task to boost cycling modal share in Aberdeen is overwhelming and hard to know where to begin. I think Union Street is a great starting point for several reasons:
- It’s going to be redeveloped in their master plan for the city centre but currently there’s no provision for a segregated cycle path. I want to change this before they start construction. Cycling infrastructure should be installed as standard when road maintenance and re-development is already taking place because it’s a cost-effective way to do it.
- Union Street is our city’s heart and the businesses on it are struggling and have been struggling for many years now. Cycling infrastructure can rejuvenate the city centre and bring economic benefits for businesses because cyclists can stop and shop on the street while private motor vehicles cannot.
- Union Street is long – almost one mile from Castlegate to Holburn Street – and fairly flat, making it easy to incorporate a cycle path.
- Union Street is very wide. In some places there are five lanes for motor vehicles but not a single centimetre of segregated cycle path.
- Union Street is congested and polluted and cycling infrastructure can solve both problems.
- Union Street is unpleasant to walk around as a pedestrian because it is noisy and choked with cars. Cycling infrastructure can fix this.
- Union Street is what tourists see when they come to Aberdeen and good cycling infrastructure can make it more attractive.
- The cycle path could eventually be continued all the way along King Street providing a car-free route from the city centre to the University of Aberdeen. The university is a large employer in the city and makes a significant contribution to the region but they need to attract students and when looking where to study, students will consider transport options.
Here’s how Union Street looks now:
Here’s how it could look:
Once Union Street has a cycle path we can start building a network of paths outwards from the city centre to the Beach, to the University of Aberdeen, to Hazelhead Park, to Duthie Park, to the hospital, to the airport and so on.
If you want to support this campaign then please write to your local councillor or complete the form below which will be sent to the transport strategy team at the Aberdeen City Council.