Arbroath residents remain fiercely divided over cycle-friendly changes to the town’s infrastructure at the end of a four week trial.
The trial period of the £13m A Place for Everyone scheme came to an end last week.
Active travel campaigners have said it is just what the town needs to promote walking, cycling and greater accessibility.
But the plans have come in for renewed fierce criticism from some quarters — especially after footage emerged of an ambulance with its sirens blaring becoming stuck in traffic during the trial.
Arbroath cycling hub’s high hopes
Bollards along Arbroath’s Lady Loan and Burnside Drive have shown residents how the Sustrans led project may work.
The plans are part of active travel charity Sustran’s £60 million investment in infrastructure changes to support walking, cycling and wheeling.
Scott Francis started Angus Cycle Hub in 2015 in “a cupboard” to promote bike use.
The enterprise has since exploded and they have a town centre premises in Market Place.
Scott is excited to see the plans finally take shape.
“I hope this is just the first step,” he said.
“This is a massive thing, but I would like this to be just the start of having more cycle space to promote active travel.
“There’s been a lot of noise about there already being a cycle lane in the area, but I think that’s not enough.”
Scott feels the heated debate online over the Arbroath cycling plans is not representative of what he sees.
“When we speak to people at the local level, we find most are in favour.
“That’s been really good for us to hear.”
Could the extra active travel space work for others?
It’s not just cyclists who may benefit.
Kristina Aburrow and her partner Robert Nicol found the number of dropped kerbs in the town troublesome while out with their one-year old daughter Saela, who was born during lockdown.
Kristina said: “Arbroath is the first destination in Scotland for such a project, this will create a buzz about the town and throughout Scotland.
A massive thank you to everyone who got involved in the Arbroath Active Travel Festival 2021 this weekend!
— Angus Cycle Hub (@AngusCycleHub) July 6, 2021
“As a regular public transport user and cyclist, I have always been aware of how tricky road and pavement access is.
“But it wasn’t until I started pushing a pram around the town that I realised just how hostile the access is.
“There are some really difficult sections that this project will help eliminate.”
Kristina said she has been “appalled by the vulgarity” of criticism by some.
“It has been a real eye opener to online abuse,” she added.
“It is obvious that many of those opposing the project have not grasped the nature of it.
“It’s not just a cycle lane, it’s redesigning junctions for better use and it’s allowing all members of our community to utilise the spaces we have.”
Is this the cycle path even other cyclists love to hate?
It is not just drivers who are against the changes. Cyclist Mike Morrison is also against the plan.
He took a video, which was widely shared on local Facebook group Arbroath Online, of an ambulance stuck behind a car at a red light.
He said: “It was there for a good minute or two. I have epilepsy and if that was coming for me, that could have been my life.
“It’s putting other drivers in a state of panic. You can’t run a red light, but there’s no space, so you feel you have to if an ambulance needs past. You’ll always feel in the wrong.
“I hope it doesn’t go ahead at all, and that’s coming from a cyclist.
“The two lanes were put there for a reason. The traffic has been really bad since these bollards have been put up.
“I’ve maybe seen two people using it, and I’ve passed there about 40 times since it’s been put up. It’s a farce.”
Mike, 31, says he is regularly out on his bike to “clear the mind” and for health benefits.
He thinks there is no need for so much road space on a main thoroughfare to be taken up by cycle lanes.
What happens next?
Sustrans officials will take feedback and findings from the trial to draw up further plans.
Paul Downie, senior project officer, reviewed the route last week with colleagues.
He said: “It’s amazing how much safer it feels — and that’s just with the bollards there.
“These are being used to replicate the main changes that will be implemented when the scheme is constructed. The trial gives people a flavour of what it could be like.”
Feedback, such as criticisms over ambulance access, will inform further plans drawn up ahead of consultation, he added.