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.