This is why we don’t go to Hazlehead Park

It has been 6.5 years since we moved to Aberdeen and in all that time I’ve only visited Hazlehead Park once. This is because it’s very difficult to get to by bicycle. The single time I visited it was when a friend took me in her car some years ago.

Today we had no choice but to go there again because Elizabeth’s Highland Dance school decided to have their lessons there instead of over Zoom. I spent hours last night and this morning studying maps and trying to find the best and the safest route. The most direct route by car involves busy roads with large roundabouts and zero cycling infrastructure. We decided to head west along Deeside Way and then take a side road north to the park.

We left Deeside Way at Deeside Drive. I was not able to make it up that little hill on my cargo bike, even with the electric assist and the kids had to get out and walk.

They had to get out again on Deeside Drive which gets quite steep leading up to North Deeside Road. North Deeside Road is then very busy and we dashed across like pedestrians to get to Northcote Road. So far the ride was pretty dreadful. Then there was a nice little bit along Airyhall Road and past Airyhall House. That’s Airyhall House behind Ben in this next photo.

There’s a little path you can take that leads to Northcote Crescent.

From here we did a dog-leg around Craigton Road and onto Airyhall Avenue. Then another dog-leg around Countesswells road and onto Countesswells Avenue.

That bit wasn’t so bad. I mean, there’s was not a single bit of cycling infrastructure so it was just all on roads with cars but the roads were reasonably quiet and reasonably flat.

It was at the end of Counteswells Avenue that things got messy. There’s a park there that leads you onto Burnieboozle Crescent.

This is the entrance to the park. So far so good.

It was at the Burnieboozle end that I got stuck. The council has put in a chicane barrier which makes it virtually impossible for anyone with a cargo bike, a wheelchair, or a pram to get through to the park.

We eventually made it round but by then I was pretty pissed off. I know the council does nothing whatsoever to encourage cycling but why do they have to go to such great lengths to make it harder? I wonder how much this barrier cost to install and what purpose it serves other than to discourage active travel?

We made it to the dance class just on time. It took us nearly an hour. If we’d taken the main roads it would have been an easy but scary 25 minute bike ride. I told the teacher we won’t be coming to any other lessons at Hazlehead Park and will wait until the studio reopens. That’ll be my first and last cycle ride to Hazlehead Park. This is why we don’t go there.

On the way home we tried a slightly different route. There’s a gravel path that runs parallel to North Deeside Road and runs behind the International School. I actually think it’s part of Airyhall Road but has never been tarmacked. It wasn’t much better. My bike isn’t really made for off-roading. All I need is a little ditch and the whole thing will tip over. The kids had to get out and walk again at one point. Indeed they had to get out and walk several times. They can ride themselves and I would prefer they did. If only it were safe for children to cycle in Aberdeen. The city council prioritises adults in gas-guzzling SUVs over children on bicycles.

I had hoped I could write a blog post about a terrific route to Hazlehead Park that I’d discovered. But I haven’t. It sucks and I won’t be doing it again.

13 thoughts on “This is why we don’t go to Hazlehead Park”

  1. Those chicanes are hilarious. Because I am incompetent I caught my handlebar on one once and since then I have been too scared to try again and I have to get off and walk through them. I’m glad there is only one. But yes, anything wider than a bike is going to struggle to get through. What an accessibility nightmare 😦 You are right, it’s not worth the hassle. It is a nice idea to have lessons outdoors, but you would have chosen the original venue for a reason.

    1. Yes, exactly. I signed her up for these highland dance classes because I knew they were at a location we could get to. The irony is the car park at the park was filled with cars. That’s how the council wants people to get there.

  2. I’m always amazed by the holier-than-thou walking brigade that presume every right of way is a footpath only – and make a huge song and dance about any bicycles. It drives me bonkers.

    1. Yes I’ve never understood that either. I’m a pedestrian too and I’d much rather have bicycles whizzing past me on the pavement than polluting cars that poison me driving past and create lots of noise and unpleasantness.

  3. Here in the US, those types of barriers are usually put in when there are concerns about traffic from things like motorcycles, dirt bikes, & ATVs.

    Unfortunately, “just big enough for a bike but not enough for a motorcycle” also means that a cargo bike or larger stroller is near impossible to fit through.

    Eyeballing it, I’d wager that’s made to the exact minimum widths that are required for turning a wheelchair — a poor design, but likely one that just barely passes for any required accessibility standards.

    1. You’re spot-on. I wrote to the council about it and they told me it was there to prevent motorbikes from going into the park. I did wonder whether it would meet accessibility guidelines and possibly even whether it was legal.

  4. If you ever want to venture back there is a path suitable for bikes at the end of Countesswells Avenue that takes you directly to Hazlehead Park so instead of turning down and heading towards Burnieboozle just go past the bus stop and the path is in front of you.

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