Updated: Campaign of disruption mooted in A9 crossing dispute

Cyclists', horse-riders', walkers' lives risked by lack of underpass

by Mark Appleton   April 4, 2011  

The A9 at Crubenmore.jpg

Direct action is being planned over a decision by Transport Scotland not to provide a safe crossing point for cyclists, walkers and horse-riders on an upgraded stretch of the A9.

Ruaridh Ormiston, a local riding stables owner, says he will block traffic by riding a horse and carriage up and down the road in order to draw further attention to the issue.

He is the prime mover behind the campaign to install an underpass at Crubenmore where the main road up the east side of the Scottish Highlands is being made dual carriageway in a £10.4m upgrade scheme.

The issue is of particular concern to him as the installation of an unbroken central barrier at a traditional crossing point means he will no longer be able to access General Wade’s Military Road to the east of the A9.

Similarly cyclists accessing the historic trail who were able to cross what was previously single carriageway with relative ease at this point, would in future be forced to make a dash for the central reservation, lift their bikes over the barrier and make a second dash to get to the other side.

Transport Scotland, the body responsible for building and maintaining Scotland’s major highways, says that extensive consultation was undertaken in the four years leading up to the start of construction and that a safe crossing point can be found to the north of Crubenmore.

The organisation maintains there is no public right of way at the location in question, a point which is disputed by campaigners who say the authority may ultimately be forced to install an underpass after the project is completed, but at much greater expense.

The A9 is one of the most dangerous roads in Britain and upgrading it to dual carriageway should make it safer, but campaigners say those safety gains for motorists will be made at the expense of other users if a relatively inexpensive underpass is not installed during the current construction phase.

“I’m quite happy to ride up and down here with horses every day of the week and bring the A9 to a standstill,” said Ruaridh Ormiston “If that’s what we have to do to get people’s attention, we’ll do it. For the sake of a few thousand pounds to put a pipe [underpass] under the road, they are going to put all non-vehicular users at risk.”

Update: A spokesperson for Transport Scotland told road.cc:

"The Crubenmore dualling scheme is designed to improve the operational performance and level of safety on the A9. The Right of Way at Etteridge does not extend across the A9 and there has never been, at any time, a crossing facility across the A9 at this location. There are safer crossing points to the north of Crubenmore.

"The feasibility of constructing an appropriate underpass in the vicinity of Etteridge which would meet the strict requirements of accessibility legislation and avoid major works to the adjacent A9 and Highland Mainline Railway has not been established. If this could be achieved, additional land would be required and the estimated cost would be between £650,000 and £720,000.

"There are viable underpass crossings located further north on the A9 between Crubenmore and Kingussie. Transport Scotland and the Cairngorms National Park Authority are working together to develop a safe access strategy to provide walkers, cyclists and equestrians with advice on suitable routes."
 

7 user comments

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The A 9 does not need to be dual carriageway for the amount of traffic using it, and by observation since the start of 2011 the amount of motor traffic on the road has noticeably reduced.

I've been driving around 800 miles every other weekend - a very sad domestic issue - and roads like the A1 which used to be relatively active on a sunny Sunday afternoon are almost deserted. Sunday traffic queues on the Edinburgh by-pass are shorter or almost non-existent.

Now what would be an improvement, is the delivery of better driver 'behaviour' especially in the speed/observation area.

At Crubenmore, there will need to be a number of culverts to feed water from the hills in to the Truim. THese have to be substantially 'oversized' to deal with meltwater surges and the rocks brought down with this. Elsewhere, probably when roads were designed and built by Highland Council (local) engineers, the huge culverts double as road crossing points to all who want a less hazardous road crossing. True in full spate the paths here will be underwater but when this happens very few people will be wanting to cross the road and very few people will be drivind - several crossings like this on A95

47 years of breaking bikes and still they offer me a 10 year frame warranty!

A V Lowe's picture

posted by A V Lowe [481 posts]
4th April 2011 - 11:09

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A V Lowe wrote:
The A 9 does not need to be dual carriageway for the amount of traffic using it, and by observation since the start of 2011 the amount of motor traffic on the road has noticeably reduced.

I agree about the general level of traffic not being the issue - the issue on the A9 is the behaviour of certain groups (yes Audi drivers - I'm looking at you) when they reach a dualled stretch. The roar of the engines as cars are hurled to over 100 mph to overtake as much as possible in the space is quite deafening.

I recently had cause to travel the whole length of the road from Inverness south at around 60mph (my wee Almera couldn't really cope with 3 bikes on the rack) - and you'd have thought I was stealing days from these people's lives.

Instead of upgrading, a concerted campaign by the police against the speeding and dangerous driving on this route is long overdue.

posted by mad_scot_rider [544 posts]
4th April 2011 - 13:03

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The A9 has a high accident rate in part due to the high percentage of foreign drivers using it, who are unfamiliar with overtaking when driving on the left. I'd say BMW drivers tend to be more at fault than Audi drivers with regard to aggressive behaviour on the roads, but that difference is nowhere as extreme as it used to be.

Traffic volumes across the UK have fallen in recent months due to bad weather and hgiher fuel prices, as well as the economy in general. I suspect this will cahnge as more people return to using cars. The same has been seen right across Europe and North America to a greater or lesser degree.

Traffic volumes tend to be high on the A9 in summer due to the high percentage of holidaymakers using the route.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2169 posts]
4th April 2011 - 14:15

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In total agreement with mad_scot_rider. I have used the A9 on numerous occassions. and you know what. It is a safe road to drive AS LONG AS YOU OBSERVE THE SPEED LIMIT AND HIGHWAY CODE. I have said for years that the majority of accidents are caused by tourists and people belting along a road at 80mph plus which was designed to drive on at 60mph. Vehicles now have sufficient safety features to allow them to 'cruise' the A9 in relative safety within the speed limit and not end up mangled on the roadside!! Its a country road through some of the most spectacular scenery in Great Britain. The petrol heads need to remove some of the lead in their right shoes and enjoy it!

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posted by giff77 [1045 posts]
4th April 2011 - 15:32

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There is a need to design safety into roads because people don't drive as they are supposed to. Let's face it though, how many of us know the specifics of road rules in other countries we visit? Just because you don't know the law doesn't absolve you from guilt should you break the law - ignorance is no defence.

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2169 posts]
4th April 2011 - 20:44

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Agreed @OldRidgeback - we really don't help ourselves out here.

Once you get out of built up areas, no street lights & no speed limit signs, *we* all know that means the limit is 70 mph - but what's a german supposed to think? The 'National Speed Limit Applies' signs are not exactly intuitive.

posted by mad_scot_rider [544 posts]
5th April 2011 - 8:57

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I find it sad that the DfT and other bodies only approach to reducing fatality figures is to straighten roads; place anti-skid surfaces on corners and junctions; and rumble lines on the approach to junctions and roundabouts; dual-carriageways that suddenly run out!!

Last week I have had a near misses with a tuition vehicle minus the learner! If this is the standard of driving demonstrated by the instructor I hate to see what he is teaching the learner driver!

The sooner tuition is sorted out the better - motorway driving and cycle awareness are two that spring to mind!

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posted by giff77 [1045 posts]
5th April 2011 - 16:46

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