With support from Sustainable Transport Scotland, Sustrans, Transition St Andrews is drawing up plans to boost walking and cycling in the town, stressing they will “take the community with them” in their bid to transform how people get around the town.
Transition St Andrews is made up members of the community and university focusing on carbon reducing projects. Alistair Macleod, project manager with the group, said the plans are at an early “fact-finding” stage, with no routes yet identified – although he has some ideas where investment could be used.
An online consultation has been launched to canvass the views of residents and will be flowed by face-to-face events in the coming months.
Mr MacLeod promised to include the community after witnessing backlash from some businesses when Fife Council removed car parking space as part of the Spaces for People scheme. Business owners decried a perceived lack of public consultation during that project.
He doesn’t want a repeat of the response to Arbroath’s similar scheme which was criticised for lack of consultation. “It is important to stress we are going to bring the community along with us on this,” he said. Alistair hopes to have a draft of cycle and walking paths to present by early next year.
Mr MacLeod thinks the town cannot carry on as it is. “St Andrews is a small coastal town with no rail links and few active travel options. “But it has a huge amount of visitors. “We cannot keep piling cars in. We have to make big changes if we are to meet our climate goals.” Cyclists have to contend with busy traffic when getting around St Andrews. But he is not rushing into anything. “We have to take our time and make sure we get it right.”
“That’s what this stage is all about. The consultation is about finding out how people travel around the town and how it can be improved. “After that we will start asking about where people would like to see things like cycle routes. “It will be about everyday people making everyday journeys.”
Mr MacLeod said evidence from places such as the Netherlands shows that when good cycling infrastructure is built, it will be widely used.
He thinks there is scope to create better links to the Madras College campus. “I was speaking to someone who drove to Madras despite it being a five minute cycle for them. When I asked why, they said they didn’t realise it was that short a journey on bike. We can do a lot more to make walking and cycling the natural choice for people here. “When done right it’s quicker and safer than driving.”
But he admits they have to reduce the amount of traffic in the town and the mindset that puts commuters in and highlighted congestion spots such as Doubledykes Road as somewhere that needs attention.
“With some small tweaks we can make it a really lovely town.” “People say there is nowhere quite like St Andrews, but that’s not quite right. “There are coastal towns that have made this work. We will look at them as we plan changes. With some small tweaks we can make it a really lovely town. But everybody needs to feel a part of it.”
Picture: Traffic congestion in Market St