Transport strategies and projects

Strategy Team update on cycling initiatives - November 2016

Aberdeenshire has enormous potential to lead when it comes to cycling and to some extent is already on that path.

The successful award winning Peterhead Cycle Demonstration Town project saw, through coordination of resources and good community engagement, levels of cycling double year on year such that at the end of the project an additional 270 journeys were made on average by bike each week in Peterhead.

This model has been adopted for the current Integrated Travel Town project looking at Ellon, Inverurie, Fraserburgh, Portlethen and Huntly which aims to work in partnership with the local community to develop and deliver what is required in each locality to generate more sustainable travel.

Research suggests that the key barriers to cycling are perceptions of safety, distance and weather; lack of information; lack of cycle routes and poor cycle skills – and this is borne out by our own local research. While we can address the physical barriers, a much wider behaviour change is needed to support new cyclists onto the infrastructure we provide and the ITT project provides this wider approach.

The ITT project looks into the towns considering where and how residents currently travel, identifies corridors most likely to accommodate cycling and walking, develops proposals to provide cycle infrastructure and supports this with a range of 'soft' interventions such as cycle parking, signage, mapping, local events, cycle workshops and business engagement. This process results in a five-year master plan setting out how a local network will be delivered and helps us to secure external match funding.

While the ITT project tends to consider journeys of around 5-10km, we are about to undertake a large piece of work looking at strategic cycle routes across Aberdeenshire, linking major settlements and supporting those longer commutes. The study will be looking at options for upgrades to the Formartine and Buchan Way and the Deeside Way to support commuting cyclists and the corridors below are also being reviewed:

• Ellon to Aberdeen (and Newburgh Spur)
• Inverurie to Aberdeen (and Kemnay Spur)
• Alford to Aberdeen
• Stonehaven to Aberdeen

Work has already commenced on the Inverurie to Aberdeen proposal with the Kintore to the Business Park link already in place and the extension to Inverurie anticipated in due course. We are in dialogue with partners in Aberdeen City to ensure that we coordinate our linkages to Inverurie and Ellon at the city. We have also been working with local partners in Inverurie and Oldmeldrum to support the development of a cycle route from Oldmeldrum to Inverurie Railway Station and are in the outline design stages of this project.

Schools are often the key to generating cycle interest and we are in the process of developing an innovative set of classroom resources with partners in Education, linked to the Curriculum for Excellence which will embed safety, sustainability and active lifestyles into Curriculum for Excellence objectives. A pilot is scheduled for autumn 2016 and if successful wider roll out could be considered for 2017. Our School Travel Planner is also working with schools to embed active travel and is supported by a Sustrans I-Bike Officer to help deliver Bikeability training and support cycle activities.

Businesses are also considered in our approach and we will be continuing to work with large business sites to develop travel plans that favour walking, cycling and public transport – again this will require an approach based around behaviour change. We are continuing to develop and publish our popular walking and cycle maps, bringing these into a consistent style and format across the area. We will also be launching new office travel maps in March 2017 which provide information in a new and innovative style for local authority staff.

Cycling and Walking Maps - Commuter Routes
Cycling Maps - Recreational Routes

The Council has also been actively involved in the `Love To Ride' cycle challenge. To date the challenge has attracted over 1000 riders who between them have logged over 300,000 miles. Encouragingly, almost 300 of these riders have been introduced to cycling through the challenge and a large percentage continue to ride some 12 months afterwards.

The above has no doubt helped to contribute towards Aberdeenshire Council being recognised in the Scottish Transport Awards 2016 as ‘Scottish Local Transport Authority of The Year’ for the fourth time since 2008.

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