Plans to upgrade A9 fail to provide properly for cyclists, say Scottish Greens

"Nonsense" that costs prevent cycle paths being built, agrees Labour MSP

by John Stevenson   March 13, 2014  

Cromarty Bridge on the A9 (CC licensed image by conner395:Flickr)

Scottish Green Party politicians have warned that a £3 billion project to upgrade the Perth to Inverness stretch of the A9 into dual carriageway fails to provide for cyclists.

The party’s Perth branch says it has been told by Transport Scotland that plans for the road do not include cycle paths on both sides.

The new road is “unlikely to have parallel cycle routes” due to “environmental impacts and costs”, Transport Scotland told the Greens.

Alison Johnstone Green MSP and co-convener of Holyrood’s cross-party group on cycling, said she was concerned the conversion of the road to dual carriageway could make it harder for people living along the route to get from A to B by bicycle.

She said that the Scottish government was “under enormous pressure” to increase the number of journeys being made by bicycle.

“It would be monumentally daft if they spent £3bn on a dual carriageway that did not incorporate better cycle infrastructure for Perthshire and Highland communities along the route, not to mention the opportunities for cycle tourism,” said Ms Johnstone.

Roger Humphry of Perth Greens added: “Dualling of the A9 gives an opportunity to improve facilities for walking and cycling but we have no confidence this will happen.”

Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch SNP MSP Dave Thompson dismissed claims that cycle routes would be too expensive as “nonsense”.

Ms Johnstone warned that there was a risk of additional costs if cycle routes were not included in the project’s design.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said the Scottish Government is “actively engaged” with “non-motorised” users to consider the dual carriageway’s design.

Transport Scotland said it was listening to feedback on the A9 project, and said the responses made it clear that people wanted cycling facilities close to the road and also safe crossing points.

A spokesman said: “The new cycleway supports the policy set out in the Cycling Action Plan by facilitating links to the communities of Kincraig, Kingussie and Aviemore and will provide a direct alternative to the numerous off road tracks and the Speyside Way.

“As we continue to further develop the A9 dualling programme, provision for non-motorised users including cyclists will be a major factor in the design of schemes taken forward.”

Scotland’s longest road, the A9 has a history of crashes caused by excessive speed, especially where drivers attempt to get ahead of each other as dual carriageway sections return to single file traffic. Risky overtaking on single carriageway section are also a major cause of crashes.

Previous conversions of sections of the A9 to dual carriageway have run into controversy as planners have failed to accommodate non-motorised road users.

In 2011, First Minister Alex Salmond had to personally intervene to force Transport Scotland to include a crossing for walkers, cyclists and horse riders at Crubenmore. An ancient right of way following the route of one of General Wade’s military roads crosses the A9 at this point.

hSources: BBCThe Courier 

23 user comments

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Quote:
The new road is “unlikely to have parallel cycle routes” due to “environmental impacts and costs”, Transport Scotland told the Greens.

A new one, a road is environmentally good???? and building a cycle path isn't!

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1100 posts]
13th March 2014 - 12:35

35 Likes

Politicians only want the cycling vote so they promise the earth but deliver nothing. Best remember that when you vote.

posted by joebee9870 [57 posts]
13th March 2014 - 12:55

24 Likes

Unless the new cycle route was completely separate and totally inaccessible to motor vehicles then I would NEVER contemplate cycling anywhere near the A9 anyway

As it is I will go out of my way to avoid even driving on that road - whenever you see a news story about a Scot stopped doing over 100 mph, chances are good it was on the A9

posted by mad_scot_rider [548 posts]
13th March 2014 - 13:03

21 Likes

dont dual the a9, spend 3bn on a faster railway with cycle lanes down it instead (and/or cycle carriage) and car parks and bike lockers at key points along it, that way everyone can get around scotland and less cars on the road, hence no need for the dual.

any kind of planning of cycling infrastructure is non-existent in the country STILL, despite all the claims, unless it can be done at almost zero cost (ie. blue painted cycle lanes!)

posted by a_to_the_j [75 posts]
13th March 2014 - 13:31

22 Likes

If only Scotland had its own version of the Active Travel Bill

posted by ct [41 posts]
13th March 2014 - 14:17

15 Likes

So including a designated cycle track is of greater environmental impact than the duelling. What a cop out. The only reason there have been so many fatalities and motoring injuries is quite simply down to driver error and speeding. There are a number of A roads in Scotland I will no longer cycle on and am extremely unhappy driving along. The other week when driving back from Pitlochry it was snowing and people were still bombing past doing at least 70 while we had dropped down to just below 50. And that was on a duelled section. Put the money into a greater police presence. That should sort it. That and more punitive fines/points

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1052 posts]
13th March 2014 - 14:17

20 Likes

When I cycled lejogle a couple of years back, this was the most direct route up through Scotland so obviously I took it!

An interesting ride for sure, don't think I saw a single other ride it along the entire road - however despite the lorries being pretty nifty, I found that doing the 80's universal air-horn signal as they approached me elicited a 90% positive reaction!

I found out afterwards it's called the 'tesco express highway'.....

Racer 074 for the 2014 Transcontinental Race; 2,000 miles from London to Istanbul.

http://themartincox.co.uk/2014/03/racer-074-transcontinental-race-2014/

posted by themartincox [349 posts]
13th March 2014 - 14:36

18 Likes

mrmo wrote:

Quote:

The new road is “unlikely to have parallel cycle routes” due to “environmental impacts and costs”, Transport Scotland told the Greens.

A new one, a road is environmentally good???? and building a cycle path isn't!

Just goes to show how completely fucked up in the head / removed from reality some people are. Whoever uttered that sound bite needs to be fired immediately.

Work harder. Buy a tank.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [288 posts]
13th March 2014 - 15:00

17 Likes

Par for the course. Another high status piece of Scottish civil engineering with no cycling provision.
The new Forth bridge has no pedestrian or cycle access. Instead, cyclists will use the old Forth crossing. If they had put cycle lanes on the new bridge, as well as providing an all weather crossing (which the old bridge is not) there would have been a ready made tourist attraction; a circuit of the two bridges by foot or cycle. How can Scotland fail to include cycling provision in transport infrastructure in this day and age?

posted by kcr [64 posts]
13th March 2014 - 15:30

14 Likes

giff77 wrote:
So including a designated cycle track is of greater environmental impact than the duelling. What a cop out. The only reason there have been so many fatalities and motoring injuries is quite simply down to driver error and speeding. There are a number of A roads in Scotland I will no longer cycle on and am extremely unhappy driving along. The other week when driving back from Pitlochry it was snowing and people were still bombing past doing at least 70 while we had dropped down to just below 50. And that was on a duelled section. Put the money into a greater police presence. That should sort it. That and more punitive fines/points

The A9 has a very bad crash rate. There are various reasons for this. The sections that aren't dualled just now have a bad record for head-on impacts due to bad overtakes. The route also has a high percentage of foreign visitors, and many of these are involved in the overtake crashes due to the unfamiliarity of driving on the left I suppose. Turning it into a dual carriageway will deal with the issue of head-on crashes. Not widening it is not a sensible option. Speeding is a problem - average speed cameras would sort that out though.

It certainly isn't cycle friendly as it is. And it does seem preposterous that adding a separated lane for bicycles would be an unacceptable environmental burden, given that the route is being widened to a dual carriageway along its length.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2199 posts]
13th March 2014 - 15:39

22 Likes

Oldridgeback, I understand where your coming from, but basically the accidents are down to stupidity. A few times I have been stuck behind timber lorries on the A40 in south wales, I could either do a stupid overtake or accept I am going to be a little delayed. Sorry, I don't want to die. Why risk it?

There really needs to be something about attitude in the driving test. Impatient idiots are banned from driving or something?

mrmo's picture

posted by mrmo [1100 posts]
13th March 2014 - 15:50

14 Likes

I agree Oldridgeback. I do think though, that the majority of collisions involving tourists have been down to impatient motorists from Scotland making the suicide passes and the tourist is ultimately the victim. I also used to do outdoor pursuits which involved using both the A82 and A9 quite frequently and was astounded by the amount of poor driving demonstrated by other motorists especially in the winter.

If they can't put more traffic cops on the road then as you say average speed cameras would be the ticket. It worked for the A77. But as you know, there is huge opposition to this.

Driving standards in Scotland are s**tpoor and the attitude towards other road users be they vulnerable or not is atrocious. Things need to change, and it is not necessarily through the duelling, straightening and anti-skid surfaces.

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1052 posts]
13th March 2014 - 16:33

25 Likes

The section from Dunblane to Perth is bad. it has numerous "at grade" right turns for cars and foot crossings- on a road that otherwise has been entirely built for high speed travel The vaguely-parallel minor road route is pretty but twisty and up-and-downy.

It needs fixed. That'll be expensive. This is a lot of new building. Far cheaper to include the facilities now.

posted by Al__S [544 posts]
13th March 2014 - 17:29

12 Likes

As an artic driver, I'd like to see average speed cameras along the entire length of the A9, our own hgv limit increased from 40 to 50, and the maximum limit for cars reduced to 50.

This is an interesting situation because a 50 limit on main roads would allow reduced lane widths, potentially providing room for half decent cycle lanes on every main road in the country.

Ok, Clarkson wouldn't agree with me but, with funding being so tight, I'm surprised that interested parties don't appear to have considered such a cost effective, and economically sound, solution.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

Neil753's picture

posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
13th March 2014 - 19:55

19 Likes

Colour me surprised.

jaunty angle: bikes and communications
http://ragtag.wordpress.com

ragtag's picture

posted by ragtag [155 posts]
13th March 2014 - 20:29

11 Likes

giff77 wrote:
I agree Oldridgeback. I do think though, that the majority of collisions involving tourists have been down to impatient motorists from Scotland making the suicide passes and the tourist is ultimately the victim. I also used to do outdoor pursuits which involved using both the A82 and A9 quite frequently and was astounded by the amount of poor driving demonstrated by other motorists especially in the winter.

If they can't put more traffic cops on the road then as you say average speed cameras would be the ticket. It worked for the A77. But as you know, there is huge opposition to this.

Driving standards in Scotland are s**tpoor and the attitude towards other road users be they vulnerable or not is atrocious. Things need to change, and it is not necessarily through the duelling, straightening and anti-skid surfaces.

Scotland's record on road crashes and road fatalities is actually better than that for England. I get a lot of stats like that across my desk at work. Driving standards in the UK aren't that bad, when you compare them with just about anywhere else. Again, the stats back this up. But the A9 is a killer and has been so for decades. My sister lives in Inversnecky so I find myself heading that way from Embra from time to time and I've been using that road for over 30 years.

The A9 carries a high percentage of HGVs. As our truck driving, cycling chum Neil 753 said, raising the limit for trucks to 40 would reduce the incidence of suicide passes. Turning the route to a dual carriageway along its length will improve safety even more, but claiming that it costs to much to install a cycle lane alongside is nonsense. Average speed cameras would deal with the maniacs who seem to think it's a racetrack - they are vastly more effective than single speed cameras that drivers typically slow down for and then speed up again once they have passed.

A cycle lane can be narrower than a standard lane for motor traffic. As the load it carries is so much lighter, its structure is simple and cheaper than a section of conventional road and it can be surfaced with two thin layers of asphalt, rather than the three layers on top of hard core you need for a road carrying motor vehicles. Adding the cycle lane wouldn't add much to the total cost of the project and there are warm asphalt technologies using alternative bitumen types that would address any concerns over environmental issues anyway.

The people at Transport Scotland are talking out of their respective behinds, and they probably know they're lying as well. A cycle lane is needed though as the A9 is definitely not cycle friendly in its current form and will be even less so once the widening work is done.

I try to avoid using the word accident, as most are avoidable and are therefore not accidents. Calling them crashes is more accurate.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2199 posts]
13th March 2014 - 21:37

20 Likes

kcr wrote:
Par for the course. Another high status piece of Scottish civil engineering with no cycling provision.
The new Forth bridge has no pedestrian or cycle access. Instead, cyclists will use the old Forth crossing. If they had put cycle lanes on the new bridge, as well as providing an all weather crossing (which the old bridge is not) there would have been a ready made tourist attraction; a circuit of the two bridges by foot or cycle. How can Scotland fail to include cycling provision in transport infrastructure in this day and age?

Just look at 'who ate all the pies' Alex Salmond and you understand the answer. His idea of physical exercise is lowering his behind into the seat of his car and then opening the door and getting out of it at the other end of his journey. I know this website isn't about politics but some Scots like me really loathe the fat little creep and what he's trying to do.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2199 posts]
13th March 2014 - 21:40

11 Likes

I've driven the A9 a few times; what a nightmare. Must be the road with the most 'toxic mix' of accident inducing factors. Get a stream of traffic with some lorries, campers and impatient drivers and you just start praying.

Shades

posted by Shades [197 posts]
13th March 2014 - 23:41

11 Likes

Oldridgeback. I think we both agree on the same thing but at different angles. My main fear is that unless strict enforcement for speeding is in place for the A9 once duelled then we are going to see many more high speed crashes especially when it will be more liable to icing. It is also ridiculous that a main artery has no inclusion for cycling for locals or tourists. I might not be as coherent as normal due to my drugs but hopefully that will pass. Silly

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1052 posts]
14th March 2014 - 1:17

14 Likes

giff77 wrote:
Oldridgeback. I think we both agree on the same thing but at different angles. My main fear is that unless strict enforcement for speeding is in place for the A9 once duelled then we are going to see many more high speed crashes especially when it will be more liable to icing. It is also ridiculous that a main artery has no inclusion for cycling for locals or tourists. I might not be as coherent as normal due to my drugs but hopefully that will pass. Silly

Yep, we pretty much agree. I think average speed cameras would deal with the speeding effectively since it's unlikely the cops could give the route the level of enforcement it needs. The road is treacherous in the winter.

A separated cycle lane on the other side of the crash barrier would be ideal but sadly, it looks like it might not come to pass.

You're coherent enough. Smile

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2199 posts]
14th March 2014 - 10:16

17 Likes

Building a duel carriageway is no problem, but adding cycle paths at the side of said duel carriageway has too much of an 'environmental impact' and costs too much?

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

posted by dp24 [190 posts]
14th March 2014 - 12:17

8 Likes

What about the old A9, does it not follow roughly the same route and is a lot quieter?

I'm just enquiring about existing ways to avoid cycling on the current A9, not saying don't put a cycle path next to it ...

Work harder. Buy a tank.

userfriendly's picture

posted by userfriendly [288 posts]
14th March 2014 - 12:50

8 Likes

OldRidgeback wrote:

The A9 carries a high percentage of HGVs. As our truck driving, cycling chum Neil 753 said, raising the limit for trucks to 40 would reduce the incidence of suicide passes. Turning the route to a dual carriageway along its length will improve safety even more, but claiming that it costs to much to install a cycle lane alongside is nonsense. Average speed cameras would deal with the maniacs who seem to think it's a racetrack - they are vastly more effective than single speed cameras that drivers typically slow down for and then speed up again once they have passed.

SNIP

I try to avoid using the word accident, as most are avoidable and are therefore not accidents. Calling them crashes is more accurate.

Sir, you speak sense. A mixture of infrastructure, enforcement and morals. I really hope this decision can be reconsidered as its an important route for local and visiting cyclists.

posted by Ush [391 posts]
14th March 2014 - 13:17

10 Likes