The new Aberdeen Western Peripheral Road (AWPR) is to host a “Go North East Road Festival” before it is opened to traffic in September. The event will offer cyclists an opportunity to “wobble or weave” on the road to promote active travel. However, people will not be allowed to bring their own bikes “for everyone’s safety” and cyclists will be banned from the road forever once the event is over.
The Community Weekend has been scheduled for Saturday September 8 and Sunday September 9. It is described as a free public event to celebrate “the opening of one of the largest infrastructure projects in Scotland, part of Transport Scotland’s commitment to improving travel in the north east.”
However, the Press and Journal reports that participants won’t be able to bring their own bikes for the cycling element of those celebrations.
The event website states: “During both event days, we are planning to have a selection of bikes for use in a ‘come and try’ arena.
“This will give an opportunity for novices and the more experienced to cycle a short section of AWPR B-T. Cyclists of all levels can wiz [sic], wobble or weave on the closed road, promoting active travel and greener transport.”
Access to the event is only by free shuttle bus and the website states: "Please note, for everyone’s safety visitors will not be able to bring their own bikes on site."
If you’re wondering how the AWPR will be of benefit to cyclists long-term, the answer is that local roads will be relieved of “strategic traffic” (whatever that is).
“The AWPR/B-T will be a Special Road, and, similar to a motorway, cyclists will be prohibited from using it for their own safety.
“However, the benefits to cyclists and pedestrians of the project are to be found in the local road networks which will be relieved of strategic traffic, with all the environmental and safety benefits this will bring.”
In an open letter to event organisers Transport Scotland, the chairman of Ride the North (a two-day cycling event which takes place later this month in Aberdeenshire and Moray) said: “I noticed yesterday the information presented online has been amended to state that cyclists cannot access with their own bicycles – but are invited to ‘wobble and weave’ on provided bikes for reasons of health and safety.
“I write to urge you to take soundings from local cyclists to gauge whether the proposals outlined will engage them as you would wish.”
A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The event organising team has consulted with a number of local cycling groups to understand and meet their aspirations while also maintaining the safety of all visitors and the security of the site.
“More details about the festival will be announced next week but we can confirm there will be opportunities to cycle on a lengthy section of the road.
“There has been no change to any information previously provided in June and at no time has a mass participation cycling event been envisaged, given the project remains largely a construction site at this time.
“The ethos of the Go North East Road Festival is to be as inclusive as possible so that anyone can take up the opportunity to cycle on the road before it opens to traffic, regardless of ability.
“It has always been necessary to ensure that entry to the event arena is controlled for security reasons.
“This means that rather than encouraging people to bring their own bikes, we will make bikes available for people of all ages and abilities to borrow and ride on a lengthy section of the road.”