Aberdeen Cycle Forum have been in touch over Aberdeen’s recent resurrection of a 15-year-old road building plan – which was already several decades out of date when it was first mooted. in this guest post, Rachel Martin explains more.

The Aberdeen City Council plans to build a dual-lane carriageway straight into the centre of Aberdeen. This is part of a road project known as the Berryden Corridor, a plan that is now 15 years old. It will see roads widened to make more space for motor vehicles, it will sever links between the two campuses of the University of Aberdeen, and it will go straight past Skene Square Primary School, increasing children’s exposure to toxic air pollution.

Group shot in Aberdeen
Campaigners in Aberdeen.at this year’s pop-up POP. Credit: Gavin Thompson

Building more roads to address congestion is transport policy from the 1960s and 1970s. We know this strategy doesn’t work to solve traffic problems because it encourages more people to drive which in turn creates more congestion. This is known as induced demand and is incredibly regressive transport policy. Furthermore, the plan is already 15 years old. Since then, laws have changed, environmental regulations have changed, the ill-health effects of air pollution are better understood, our understanding of traffic and transport has changed, and the problems of climate change, air pollution, and obesity have become more severe and more urgent.

The council’s plan is inconsistent with their own vision for the city.  In the council’s SUMP (Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan) they talk of redistributing road capacity to sustainable modes of transport.

“The opening of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) offers a unique opportunity to re-think and redesign Aberdeen’s transport network. With the new road offering a mechanism by which to transfer a sizeable proportion of through traffic to the outskirts of the city, significant traffic reduction is being realised on urban corridors, offering opportunities for this currently available capacity to be redistributed to sustainable modes of transport, thus influencing, in a positive way, how people access and move around the city. The benefits of this billion-pound investment will gradually erode should traffic be allowed to continue to grow to fill the space that has been created.”

The Berryden Corridor plan completely fails to deliver this vision in the SUMP. Building more roads for motor vehicles will not encourage active travel in Aberdeen. Indeed dual carriageways are particularly unattractive to cyclists and pedestrians because of the perceived danger and are more likely to discourage active travel. Sustainable transport is about much more than one road in the city centre; it’s about creating a network of connections for active travel throughout the city. If you separate these destinations with dual-lane carriageways it creates an impermeable barrier for pedestrians and cyclists.

The Aberdeen Cycle Forum wrote to the city council about the Berryden Corridor project addressing all these failings and more. The 2009 letter is available online: Berryden Corridor Proposals. Here are some quotes from our 10-year-old letter which is just as relevant today:

“It is not clear to us how this proposal ‘locks in’ the benefits of the AWPR and other regional transport schemes, an aim of both the Regional and Local Transport Strategies. These benefits are supposed to include less pressure on the city road network and an opportunity to allocate road space to sustainable modes. This proposal completely fails in this respect. 

“The proposed shared cycle and footway crosses seven junctions and involves crossing from one side of the corridor to the other. Cyclists’ progress along this will be tortuous. Any apparent safety gain will be offset by the additional risks facing cyclists as they have to negotiate a succession of side roads. It is not acceptable for cyclists to be shunted onto the pavement and onto such a poor facility. As we stated at the consultation workshops, the priority has to be a solution that creates safe and attractive cycling conditions on the carriageway.”

What can you do? 

Please contact the Aberdeen City Council leaders Jenny Laing and Douglas Lumsden

as well as Transport Strategy (transportstrategy@aberdeencity.gov.uk) to request they spend the money on building cycling infrastructure rather than more roads for cars which will generate more traffic, more pollution, and more greenhouse gas emissions. You can also contact your local councillor. Their details can be found here: Find Councillor.

"I'd rather handlebars and cycle paths than handle cars and psychopaths
The children of Aberdeen had some different ideas at this year’s POP! Photo: Gavin Thompson
Back to the Past with Aberdeen City Council