The latest plans for controversial cycle lanes in Arbroath have been shown off to the public — and seeing the 3D models has changed the minds of some residents.
Council officials and Sustrans representatives were at the Abbeygate Centre on Saturday to show off the active travel proposals.
The plans have caused heated debate in the past year. One example being a video going viral on social media of a stuck ambulance during a trial period.
We spent the afternoon at the stall to see what residents make of the plans after seeing the latest modelling.
One official said the feedback was mostly positive, with about 90% saying they were in favour.
The changes will be brought in through the A Place for Everyone scheme, which promotes active travel.
The overhaul will see cycle lanes installed along Burnside Drive and Ladyloan. This will see the current dual carriageway reduced to a two-lane system on the town’s thoroughfare.
Recent tweaks to the Arbroath cycle lane plans see the roundabout near Morrisons remain. Originally, that was to be replaced with a t-junction layout.
People need to ‘see for themselves’
Couple Grant Cooper and Caitlin Smart admitted they were sceptical about the plans after seeing the ambulance clip.
The video showed an ambulance with its sirens blaring stuck behind a car at a red light, which had nowhere to go because of temporary infrastructure installed during a trial period earlier this year.
But they said they were reassured having spoken to officials and seen the plans for themselves.
Caitlin said: “A lot of people see and hear things on Facebook, but they should come down here and see for themselves.
“I was sceptical about it before when I saw that video, but having spoken to them about it here I feel a lot better.”
The couple, who live in the town, were told that the road will still be wide enough for three lanes of traffic, even though there will only be two lanes in reality.
This means during an emergency there will be space for vehicles to move to the edge of the road to allow space in the middle.
Grant, who used to cycle fairly regularly, said the plans are likely to encourage him to get back in the saddle.
“I think it’s a good idea and will be a benefit to the town in the long run,” he said.
“It’s people who don’t know anything about it who are angry on Facebook.
“If you don’t speak to the people here, you won’t know what’s actually going to happen.”
A chance to reunite the town?
Arbroath was effectively split in two in the 1970s when the dual carriageway was built.
Teacher Julie Smith described this as creating an east and west town distinct from each other.
She feels the current plans are a “step in the right direction” but hopes they can go further towards reuniting Arbroath.
“There could be more signage to encourage people to head off to other places from the paths, such as Keptie Pond, High Street or the harbour.
“I would like these sorts of things included in the plans.”
Julie feels the town has “so much potential” but has seen little innovation in recent decades.
It’s good there’s talk about getting something done.”
She hopes the Arbroath cycle lane plans will mark the start of a transformation for the town.
“When I heard about this making the town more accessible for people to get around, I thought that was a really nice idea.
“It’s good there’s talk about getting something done because for years it feels like nothing has been getting done here.”
‘It can only be a good thing’
The prospect of creating greater links within the town is also something that appeals to Craig Paterson.
Craig, who lives in the Kirkton area of the town, was impressed with what he saw.
He brought daughter Abbey to see the plans and says the changes will benefit her and future generations.
He said: “We do cycle a lot, but don’t often make it to that part of the town [harbour and town centre].
“But if we’re getting something like this, then I think it will make us go down there more often, which can only be a good thing.
“I’ve heard concerns about traffic issues as a result, but I don’t really think that will happen.”
He added seeing the models of how the cycle lane will look in Arbroath was “helpful”.
What happens next in the Arbroath cycle lane project?
People visiting the demonstration were given the chance to vote on additions to the plan. These include bike racks, a community garden, public artwork and more.
Voters placed buttons in a jar to make their voice heard.
The current timeline will see construction work begin next summer and last about 18 months. That is dependent on how the pandemic plays out, however.
Further public consultation events, details of which will be posted here, will take place in Arbroath over the coming months for more people to learn about the cycle lane plans.