Here, the chair of St Andrews Space for Cycling, Tony Waterston, outlines a vision for walking and cycling in post-lockdown St Andrews.
“The lockdown that everyone has been facing for the last two months has been pretty grim for many: isolation from friends and family, the prospect of job losses, home schooling, and often lots of arguments over what to watch on TV. But there are unexpected benefits too that have been widely noticed and discussed: notably the return of wildlife in the form of flowers, birds and insects; the notably better air quality and the quiet streets where it is a pleasure to walk and cycle; and way the supportive instincts of our community have come to the fore.
When the lockdown is eventually over, can we retain some of these benefits long term? And also contribute to the mitigation of the climate crisis which is an even greater threat than COVID? There has been a lot of discussion in the media and by politicians in Scotland, England and across the world about how to do this, in the light of the necessity to tackle the climate crisis which is becoming more urgent month by month. Glasgow and Edinburgh are both taking serious steps to control the traffic and reduce congestion which may develop as people start to travel once again. And the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has committed £2 billion to infrastructure changes to make it easier and safer to walk and cycle in the recognition that many people will be averse to using crowded public transport for quite some time.
Our own Fife Council has asked councillors for recommendations on street changes such as widened pavement, narrowing traffic lanes, traffic filtering and pop up cycle lanes to reduce motor vehicle entry to avoid overcrowding which will prevent social distancing. This results from a Scottish Government programme recently announced.”
“So what measures has St Andrews Space for Cycling proposed to assist with safe walking and cycling in St Andrews during the transitional period – and perhaps longer?”
“We first mooted the following criteria for changes (national criteria have not as yet been published):
- Popular roads for walking and cycling which now have fast traffic – especially those leading to exercise areas, health care or shops
- rat runs
- roads with narrow pavements which are well used by pedestrians
- roads in central shopping area where walking/cycling is impeded by traffic
- roads outside schools where there is traffic congestion
We then reviewed which roads in central St Andrews could fulfil these criteria and after discussion with group members came up with the following suggestions:”
- Filtering on Doubledykes road (one way for cars) [criterion 1] (This road is well used by people walking to Kinburn Park for exercise and by students walking and cycling in from student residences and sports facilities, and the pavements are narrow)
- closure of West Port to motor traffic [criterion 2, 4] (The historic entrance to St Andrews allows cars to enter South Street for shopping and also as a through route via Abbey Street to the South. Closing it would prevent South Street being used as a rat run and would make walking and cycling much easier, if cycle access is permitted. Cars could still enter South St via Church St [but see note below] and via North Street)
- closure of Queens Gardens at junction with South Street [criterion 1,2] (Queens gardens residents would still have access from the South. Cycling exit to South St would be allowed, there could be a sign to indicate access only by residents]
- closure of Bell St to motor traffic [criterion 1, 3,4] (the narrow pavements and popularity of some shops make this a crowded street for pedestrians and enabling walking on the road would be a great help, safe cycling could be ensured with a pop up cycle lane on one side]
- consider closing Church st for same reasons as above.
- filtering on Market St [criterion 1]
Close the road to motor traffic at Bell St, allow access to the fountain and East end via Union St while allowing cycle and pedestrian entry. Possible pop up cycle lane on one side of Market St.
(Closing Market St at the junction with Bell St would enable a much easier shopping and walking environment in the centre of St Andrews. Although the pavement on the North side has been widened, when the town is busy pedestrians have to walk onto the road at times to pass groups of people, which will be enhanced during social distancing)
- ensuring acceptable roadworthy condition of the routes around town for cyclists especially with children – many are currently dangerous owing to potholes – particularly Doubledykes road (around Kinburn entrance), Wardlaw Gardens/Kennedy gardens , Bell St