Cycling to Aberdeen beach … with children

A friend of mine started cycling around Aberdeen with her young children during lockdown when the roads were quiet and they’ve continued even now the roads are busy again. She inspired me to try the same with Daniel and Elizabeth because although I have cycled with them many times around Aberdeen, they always sit in my cargo bike. They are competent cyclists and should be cycling on their own bikes; I have just hesitated because the roads are so hostile.

Last Sunday we all cycled to the beach together, each on their own bike. We cycled on roads, two abreast – like a car – with the children on the inside and Ben and me next to them on the outside. This meant that we took up most of a single lane, making it difficult for cars to overtake. However, we didn’t have any choice because the city council hasn’t provided any space for cycling.

We cycled down Union Street where the council could have installed a bike lane but instead cyclists share a single lane with cars and buses. We were slow and held up all the traffic.

At the end of Union Street is Castlegate and beyond that is a roundabout that leads to the Beach Boulevard. Roundabouts are dangerous junctions for cyclists so we were keen to avoid that. My friend told me about a side street with a bridge that bypasses this roundabout that’s worth sharing for anyone else who is looking for a safer route to the beach.

You need to take Castlehill from Castlegate to Hanover Street. I’ve annotated it on the map below:

Map of route along Castlehill

The bridge over Commerce Street is a pedestrian bridge. I don’t think many people know it exists. We didn’t see another person when we were there.

When we got to the Beach Boulevard it was plain sailing with the new cycle lane. The kids really enjoyed the adventure and so did I except for the small part of me that is angry with the city council for not doing more to help people who want to cycle. It’s inexplicable to me that they make it so hard for us to do the right thing which is to replace trips by car with trips by bike. It’s not surprising that so few people cycle.

We got hot chocolates at the beach.

Several people approached us to say how disappointed they are by the council’s decision to remove the cycle path. One man was cycling with a child who looked about 5 or 6 years old. He said they live in the area and have never cycled as much as they do now thanks to the new cycle path. I asked him whether he’d written to the council to let them know this and he said no. I hope I convinced him to send an email. Another woman said she uses it everyday to cycle to work and was very disappointed it was to be removed. She also hadn’t emailed the council. Please, if you want the cycle paths to stay, send the council an email to let them know.

You can find contact details here.

2 Replies to “Cycling to Aberdeen beach … with children”

  1. I’m glad people were supportive, and the kids look happy and not stressed, which is a seriously major achievement given both the anxiety and frustration (I’m feeling it a bit myself) just reading about your experience that is caused when councils are not supportive of cycling.

    1. I think the kids enjoyed it and they didn’t feel the same anxiety that I had. They’re not fully aware of the dangers of traffic which makes it all the more important to put children in segregated space.

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