To update actions by Aberdeen City council as regards my article on Esplanade Cycling on this blog September 2021, I can report that all the bollards, road markings and restriction have been removed between Bridge of Don at King Street, and the left turn at the first traffic lights at Beach Boulevard. The restrictions at this stage seem to be in place along that stretch of The Esplanade at the carnivals and cafes, restaurants, and beyond there to Footdee.
On the one hand some credit has to be afforded to the Council Committee who ordered the removal of these restrictions, in the face of strong lobbying by their own Officials and outside interests. That action by the Council in restoring that section of the Esplanade is obviously liked, as can be seen in the number of people populating the beach area. One can almost feel a collective sigh of relief as folk, walk, cycle, and enjoy their socially -distanced exercise.
That having been said: This scheme which cost about £1.6 million and came from the Scottish Government , “ Spaces for People” fund under the grants to provide social -distancing in Public Spaces, probably did not come with a money -back guarantee should it all go wrong.
The resistance and outcry against this scheme should have been anticipated, and gauged long before the changes suddenly appeared like a pet project to encourage or force a cycling habit on those who would use that route into Aberdeen. In short, lack of consultation with the wider public and a deeper consideration of the route, benefits and cost will have to be employed in the future.
As those good folk in Aberdeenshire might say as regards the similar cost to remove the restrictions “ it’s tatties ower the side noo”. Something that could have been avoided, but which is now lost.
It is clear that pedal bikes, E -bikes, and all kinds of rechargeable personal transport will have to become part of the ongoing strategy for the whole country as it is the ambition of both Governments to outlaw petrol and diesel vehicle by 2030/35 with regard to climate warming.
The challenge will be to put into production, far and away more than there is now, suitable personal electric transport for the disabled with suitable accessible charging points available just about everywhere. Local public transport that meets needs for many situations, but meshes with accessibility to places that able -bodied take as granted. Transport for the future is a huge consideration for any Government, but Disability Rights Groups have to get their act together now, and start informing, agitating and campaigning so that we are not left behind. We shall see what the UK Government say at COP Glasgow in November. Or whether this conference will blow even more hot air into the atmosphere and as usual, say a lot and achieve nothing.
There is still a lot of research to be undertaken by the Scottish Government, so that disabled people are not simply left behind, as any future Government whether in Holyrood, or Westminster, pursue changes in the banned retailing of petrol and diesel vehicles.
There is a great opportunity to get an integrated system of transport for the future, but I suspect that like the circular road, all talk will be stifled and put aside by parochial interests.
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