This appeared in my Twitter feed yesterday:
It generated a lot of discussion on Twitter. Can you see what’s wrong with the photo and the accompanying text? Sustrans is a national sustainable transport charity and in this Tweet the Welsh division of the charity praises a new active travel scheme in Aberystwyth but all the image shows is a couple of blue signs that designate the area a shared space. There are a couple of problems with this. By making it a shared space they’ve effectively taken space away from pedestrians and pedestrians are active travel too. Shared spaces like this also create conflict between pedestrians and cyclists. Why didn’t they instead take space away from private motor vehicles? That’s exactly what I asked:
The director of Sustrans Cymru has since responded (not to me) because of all the criticism they’ve received on Twitter. I don’t envy his position but he’s basically arguing for a crap outcome because it was extra crap before and anything better than extra crap is good. I can’t help thinking he’s set the bar a little too low.
The Aberdeen City Council isn’t any better. Yesterday they published an article about the half a million pounds of road works which are to begin at Schoolhill later this year. The article says they plan to enlarge the pavement and reduce the width of the carriageway. I contacted them to see whether this would include provision for cyclists. I received a response very quickly to say this is part of a larger project which will include consultation with Sustrans. In other words, no. I see this time and time again with the Aberdeen City Council: they spend vast sums of money redoing roads and pavements but completely forget about cycling as a mode of transport. It makes economic sense, if you’re ripping up the surface of a road and changing the width, to include a segregated bike path in those plans. The question should not be: should we consult with the national sustainable transport charity but rather, is there a reason not to put a segregated bike path on this road? If you live in Aberdeen, please write to your local councillor and ask them to include a segregated bike path in these plans. There’s a school on that road and what better way to encourage children to ride their bikes to school.