Why is it our city planners cannot put together a transport strategy for Union Street, the very heart of the city, that is simple, attractive, easy to understand and safe?
Why is Union Street such a guddle?
The trouble with Aberdeen City Council is they are incapable of radical, simplistic, straight-forward thinking that creates a unique, simple and safe transport strategy. Too much decision-making by committee.
Currently they are trying to please everyone - pedestrians, cyclists, motorbike users, car users, taxi drivers, delivery drivers, bus drivers and even shop and cafe owners. It is a mess!
We have pavements that are meant by law (not that the Council pays the blindest heed to the law eg. authorising Black Lives Matter demonstrations during lockdown), to be used by pedestrians only. Currently they are also used by cyclists. Woe betide any pedestrian that gets in their way. The cyclist may know how they are going to get round pedestrians, but the pedestrians do not. A very frightening experience for pedestrians to have cyclists bearing down on them. And will anyone, police or Council official ever monitor this situation and put a stop to this behaviour? Of course not! They are all too busy behind their desk dealing with more troubling matters like what someone might have said about someone else, that goes against the current liberalist media agenda.
Then we have the pavement extensions, marked out in red cones, to allow social distancing between pedestrians. Yes, I did say pavement extension, not new cycle lanes, but then again, who cares if you get mowed down by a bicycle whilst walking along your alleged pavement extension? Not the Council, that's for sure. And let's throw a few wooden decking and benches into the mix, just to make it really complicated. Oh, and shop and cafe owners wanting to ply their trade on the pavement also? Yes, why not, it's good to obstruct pedestrians!
Then there is the road itself. Does anyone in the Council know what it's like to be woken by the roar of a motorbike engine in the middle of the night? Probably not. Let's make Union Street residential they say. Except let's also open it up to every Tom, Dick and Harry that wants to make as much noise as possible. Yea, good idea..... not. And don't get me started on the drunks.
KISS - let's KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID.
Union Street is meant to be the cultural and shopping heart of the city. It is also increasingly becoming more residential. So what do we need on Union Street?
Pedestrians - YES. A no-brainer.
Cyclists - NO. There are many side roads that cyclists can use to access all parts of Union Street. Use these and walk your bike when on Union Street.
Motorbikes - DEFINITELY NOT. Too noisy and polluting.
Cars - NO. Use the side roads.
Taxis - NO. Use the side roads.
Delivery vans. ONLY with a special permit for those properties without rear access.
Buses - YES. Of course. Not everyone is fit to walk.
Outdoor cafes - ONLY if cyclists, motorbikes, cars, taxis and delivery vans without permits are banned from Union Street.
There your are. That is how Union Street should be - for pedestrians, permitted delivery vans, buses and outdoor shops and cafes only. With a one-way system enacted for permitted delivery vans and buses also, the vast majority of the Union Street footprint could be dedicated to pedestrians and shops/cafes.
Aberdeen City Centre could become the template for cities throughout the UK. A trailblazer, turning the city centre into a safe, enjoyable location for decades to come, for Aberdonians and tourists alike.
How nice would that be? To enjoy strolling along Union Street, with a simple transport system that feels safe. Not a dangerous guddle as present.