Moan, moan, moan – that’s all I seem to do

I feel like I’m always complaining to the Aberdeen City Council. It’s just that they keep making silly decisions and not doing what I suggest.

This week they announced their plans for pedestrianisation of an historic street in the city centre only their idea of pedestrianisation is to make it a thoroughfare for buses. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally in favour of mass transit, but bus thoroughfares and pedestrianisation are two separate things. The other aspect to this plan which I don’t like is that they’re creating a shared-use pathway for cyclists and pedestrians. Shared-use pathways aren’t great, especially in the city centre, because they create conflict between cyclists and pedestrians. Pedestrians don’t like sharing walkways with cyclists and cyclists don’t like having to weave around pedestrians. If a city council is going to completely upgrade the roads and pathways on one street then they should do it properly right from the start and create proper segregated cycle paths otherwise it’s just a waste of money.

The Dutch cycling blogger, A View from the Cycle Path, has a great video which demonstrates the problems with shared-use pathways really well:

The Deeside cycleway is a shared-use pathway and it mostly works pretty well because it’s not very busy. But cyclists do have to slow down around pedestrians and I suspect – although no-one has ever complained to me – that some pedestrians don’t like cyclists. One time when I was cycling a dog ran in front of my bike when I was part-way up a hill on one of the bridges. I came to a complete stop but was then stuck there. I had a full load in the cargo bike and my momentum for getting up to the top was suddenly lost. I couldn’t get off the bike and walk because the kids were in it and it would have tipped over. I had to struggle with one foot on the ground and the other foot turning a half-cycle of the pedal to move about 20cm at a time. Eventually I got to the top this way but it was not very efficient. It’s the same problem on roads that have traffic lights at the very bottom. Sometimes the only way I can get up the hill is with a run-up but if I have to stop at a red traffic light at the very bottom then the only option is to push the bike up the hill. Urban planners need to factor this into their designs.

The pedestrian zone for buses is also a strange decision to make. The same Dutch blogger  I linked to above has a video of a similar council mistake in Boston, England. This council also completely banned cyclists. Have a look at the video to see how unpleasant they made the pedestrian area:

Think of a nice area for browsing shops and eating lunch and sitting and relaxing. Are there buses going by every 5 minutes? I suppose I should be glad that at least they’re banning private motor vehicles from the street which is certainly a good start. But I’d rather we get it right first time around.

8 responses to “Moan, moan, moan – that’s all I seem to do”

  1. Cycling on footpaths is quite a divisive issue where I live – while it’s illegal, the police never seem to charge anybody for it. I’ve also notied that by far the worst culprits are older people (60+), who also have no cycle helmets, no lights, no reflective clothing, and no consideration for the people walking on the footpath. I can almost feel a blog post coming on lol

    • It’s also illegal here but the police in Aberdeen overlook it. In most cases those cycling on the footpaths are children and no-one wants children cycling on the road with cars.

      • I am too law abiding to cycle along the pavement, and too scared to cycle along busy roads. One day I could have nipped down an alleyway to get onto the quiet roads, but that would have meant going past my ex’s house. So I ended up looking like a right weirdo pushing it for about a quarter of a mile along the pavement, and that’s when she drove past in her car. Should have just ridden it instead.

      • I think they’re tougher in England about cycling on pavements. They overlook it in Scotland but I’ve heard of cyclists getting fined in England for doing the same thing so you’re probably right not to do it.

        But yeah, I would have just cycled past an ex’s house if it meant a quieter and safer road. Chances are they’re not sitting looking out the window anyway.

  2. I don’t see much point in pedestrianisation if buses are still allowed in. It might as well just be a road with cars, it’s like the worst of both worlds.
    It annoys me when I see people wandering along shared use pathways with no thought about keeping out of the way of bikes – they’re not even ones I bike along, but it still annoys me. I guess then it is ultimately a bad design, because you can’t expect most of the population to be aware of their surroundings. It’s just in the nature of people.

    • It’s even worse these days with so many people using headphones when they’re walking. I always ding my bell when I come up behind pedestrians but they don’t always hear because they’ve got things stuck in their ears!

    • I’m not sure that I have the balls to be a politician. You have to be able to take a lot of flak and I’m not sure I’d be able to deal with that.

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