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Aberdeenshire Walking & Cycling Action Plan

Aberdeenshire developed an action plan that presents a range of actions and policies that the Council will use to deliver increased levels of walking and cycling throughout the region.

How It Started

In 2007, Aberdeenshire Council produced its Local Transport Strategy (LTS) outlining travel behaviour change as the central theme, with targets to increase levels of walking and cycling for all purposes across the region. The development of the Council’s first Walking and Cycling Action Plan in September 2009 sets out how they aim to achieve this.

The Action Plan presents a range of actions and policies that the Council will use to deliver increased levels of walking and cycling throughout the region.

Partners Involved

The Action Plan has been developed following an extensive and inventive approach to consultation, one which has benefited from genuine public engagement and involved over 650 stakeholders.

This approach has helped to deliver an innovative and holistic Action Plan which provides a strong framework to take forward walking and cycling projects in the coming years, with evidence already being shown of intention being translated into action.

Process

As a large rural authority with the highest car ownership rate per head of population in Scotland, increasing walking and cycling levels is particularly challenging in Aberdeenshire.

Nevertheless, through the Action Plan, the Council has committed itself to major initiatives designed to deliver increased levels of active travel, including:

- Launch in 2011 of Peterhead as a Cycling Demonstration Town (CDT)

- Promotion of walking and cycling to Council staff, taking part in Walk to Work Week and pedometer challenge, Bike Week, In Town without My Car Day and Walk to School Week

- Promotion of walking and cycling to school, including ongoing development of cycle lanes. 94% of Aberdeenshire Schools are involved in school travel planning activities

- Auditing and the provision of new cycle parking where required: including at libraries and health centres and at Inverurie Rail station following a summer 2010 user survey

- The launch of a ‘bikes on buses’ service on the Royal Deeside service in July 2010 to promote improve integration between cyclists and public transport which has led to a noticeable increase in cyclists

- Development of new cycling maps for recreational routes

- Launch of No Excuse Zone marketing campaigns to encourage increased levels of cycling amongst commuters in Peterhead and Westhill.

Results and Impact

Although the Action Plan is still in its infancy, a number of projects have already been implemented providing evidence of the Plans ‘Impact’.

To improve integration between bikes and public transport, the Council established the Royal Deeside bus service as ‘bicycle-friendly’ by providing bike bags free of charge on the service.

Another initiative was the launch of ‘No Excuse Zones’ in Peterhead and Westhill. The key aims of this marketing campaign is to reduce car congestion and pollution. As well as showing safe routes, ‘No Excuse Zone’ maps highlight the health, financial and environmental benefits associated with replacing short car journeys with cycling.

Recently, a number of cycle routes have been traversed with a view to producing easily downloadable cycle mapping across the region.

An additional key output of the Action Plan has been the development of a monitoring framework which will measure the level of success of the Action Plan. This framework makes use of readily available snapshot information such as that gathered from Citizens’ Panel and Scottish Household Surveys and more innovative sources of data collection such as pressure pad and Passive-Infrared Radar detectors. An extensive network of cycle counters is also currently being implemented in the town of Peterhead to monitor the effectiveness of a range of measures that are being implemented as the Council seeks to establish the town as Scotland’s first Cycle Demonstration Town.

Other notable achievements include shortlisting for a ‘Cycle Improvements’ award at the Scottish Transport Awards 2010, recognition of the consultation process for the Action Plan by Consumer Focus Scotland as a best practice example in their publication, “Consumer Engagement in Decision Making: Best practice from Scottish public services”.

Lessons Learned

It is believed that the consultation approach used in the development of the Action Plan has helped to deliver an innovative and holistic Action Plan which provides a strong framework in the coming years.

Consultation was extensive, generating over 650 responses, and key elements included:

- Distribution of the Plan and Questionnaire to over 420 contacts

- A dedicated Walking and Cycling Action Plan webpage, from which an online questionnaire could be completed

- Entry to a £200 cycle voucher prize draw for those completing a questionnaire

- Distribution of posters promoting the consultation throughout the region including on targeted walking and cycling routes and at cycle shops across the region

- Promotion of the consultation through a film posted on the Council’s dedicated Travel Planning You Tube channel - www.youtube.com/aberdeenshiretp

- Press releases, and

- Workshops with Primary School pupils who, equipped with digital cameras, investigated walking and cycling routes within their town.

The use of the cycle voucher prize incentive helped to encourage current non-users to provide their input. The consultation process also appreciated young peoples views. The workshop held with school pupils sought to provide them with information about the benefits of walking and cycling, and will hopefully help to foster the development of a future generation of sustainable transport users.

Taking all comments on board, a final Walking and Cycling Action Plan was published in September 2009 setting out a clear Implementation Plan to guide future investment in projects across Aberdeenshire. Initiatives promoted in the Plan range from ongoing support for Safer Routes to Schools projects, cycle training, and implementation of the Council's Core Paths Plan to more pioneering measures such as the development of Scotland's first Cycle Demonstration Town in Peterhead, Park and Cycle schemes and the launch of the No Excuse Zone marketing campaigns.

What's next for the project?

Walking and cycling can have many positive economic, environmental and social impacts for the region. By encouraging a change in travel behaviour in favour of walking and cycling, levels of congestion can be reduced, journey times improved, and in turn environmental and economic benefits delivered.

A number of the initiatives contained within this submission highlight that the Walking and Cycling Action Plan are already delivering tangible benefits for residents of Aberdeenshire.

In order to progress the actions within the plan, the officers responsible for the development of Plan have worked and will continue to work closely with the Council's Communications Team, who utilise a number of approaches to ensure stakeholders are kept up to date with developments.

What is this?

What is it about?

Where is this relevant?

When was this published?

5/9/2012

Lead Contact Name

Andrew Stewart

Designation

Travel Planning Officer

Organisation

Aberdeenshire Council

Address

Woodhill House, Westburn Road, Aberdeen, AB16 5GB

Phone Number

01224 664773

Email Address

Andrew.Stewart@aberdeenshire.gov.uk

Address

Woodhill House Westburn Road Aberdeen AB16 5GB

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