What’s Rachel been up to lately?

I’ve had less time to write lately. I’ve been trying to do four jobs – my paid full-time job as a product manager for Creative Force, my role as campaigns secretary for the Aberdeen Cycle Forum, my work for Aberdeen Climate Action on their websites, and a new project I’ve taken on to help address climate change – watch this space!

Aberdeen Cycle Forum has been consuming me a lot recently. First there was the removal of the beach cycle lane to make it more convenient for motorists to unload their cars. Other local authorities around the UK have done the same and I do find it emotionally draining to see people wilfully making it difficult for others to reduce their impact on the environment. They don’t have to cycle themselves but why make it hard for people who are trying to make an effort? Do they want us to reach climate disaster?

The London borough of Chelsea and Kensington is right up there with Aberdeen City Council as being the worst in the country for cycling. They put in a pop-up cycle lane with pandemic funding (just as Aberdeen City Council did) then removed it two months later. Their cycle lane got a lot more use than ours did, including by school children and teachers at a local school. It’s an absolute disgrace. The primary school put a plea on their website to retain the path but still the local council removed it.

The very next day a van parked in what was the cycle path and stayed there for 72 hours. They removed a path that was used by 4,000 people a day just so a van could sit there for 72 hours. It sparked so much outrage on Twitter that someone started a Twitter account called Is the white van in the RBKC cycle lane still there? The van is now gone and so the Twitter handle has been updated to reflect whatever is there now. At the time of writing it’s a BMW. I believe there was a Ferrari at one point.

This Tweet provides a good before and after photograph of the cycle lane:

There are so many people on bikes in the left photo. How are they all getting to work/school now? They’re either adding to the traffic, air pollution, and carbon emissions by driving or they’re taking up space on public transport at a time when we don’t want everyone using public transport.

Cycling UK yesterday announced they’re seeking legal advice about whether they can challenge councils’ decisions to remove walking and cycling schemes. I hope they are successful and would like to see Aberdeen City Council sued for failing to provide adequate walking and cycling facilities. Probably I need to be hit by a bus and killed before I can sue so take this as my dying wish – should I be hit by a car and killed when cycling – I want the Aberdeen City Council sued for failing to provide safe space for cycling in Aberdeen.

The Aberdeen City Council is still intent on permanently scarring the city centre with a dual carriageway. They released some visualisations of some of the route this week as part of a public consultation for South College Street. One of the images has gone viral on Twitter because it’s so bad.

The painted white line on the left is not acceptable cycling infrastructure in 2020. It puts the cyclist in the gutter, encourages close passes by motor vehicles, is not wide enough, and is both unsafe and looks unsafe which will discourage cycling. Perceptions of safety are just as important as real safety when it comes to encouraging cycling. As people have pointed out on Twitter it completely fails Scotland Cycling by Design guidance.

In some of their other visualisations they have proper segregated paths but these stop at every intersection and force cyclists to cross the road like pedestrians. There are also shared paths with pedestrians which pedestrians don’t like and nor do cyclists. It’s also discontinuous with some on one side of the road and another section on the other side forcing cycling to have to cross the road if they want to stay on the path. They’re also creating an extra lane for motorists.

It’s unclear how they plan to reduce traffic in the city which was the idea behind the AWPR – reduce traffic in the city and reallocate road space to active travel. This plan sees more space given to cars which I guess was their plan all along and the promise of the “cycling city” was just greenwash. I want to say I’ve never been more disappointed with the city council but I’m sure I’ve already said that many times before. This time I mean it a million, billion, trillion times.

I spend money on Union Street every week, usually twice a week (just confirming the research that people on bike and on foot spend more at the shops than people in cars). Today I bought a homeless man a sleeping bag. He looked so cold and had a sign that he needed money for blankets and a sleeping bag. I asked him whether he’d like me to go and get one for him and he said yes so we did. I got him the warmest one they had in Millets on Union Street and also a hat and neck warmer. For all my complaining about lack of cycling infrastructure I’m glad to have a roof over my head and food in the cupboard. I hope he’s warm tonight.

5 Replies to “What’s Rachel been up to lately?”

  1. Interesting stat about people on bikes and on foot spend more than people in cars.

    You forgot to mention your job of home-front manager 😊 So that’s five jobs you’re doing!

    1. Yes, mum to two fine children as well 🙂 They’re at that age where they’ve become quite easy and are fun to have around. They also unstack the dishwasher 😉

      I should have provided a source for the stat on cycling and spending at shops – https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/509587/value-of-cycling.pdf

      “Cyclists visit local shops more regularly, spending more than users of most other modes of transport”

      It sounds like it’s because we visit the shops more regularly.

      1. And those shops you tend to visit are local shops. That in itself is a good reason to encourage more cycling and walking.

  2. In our area, the cycle lane is on the outside between car parking and traffic. I think I prefer your scheme.

    1. Putting the cycle lane between car parking and the main carriageway is not very good because it makes it dangerous for cyclists with cars pulling in and out of parking spaces.

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