Sunday, 9 September 2018

Initial Comments on BEAR Scotland’s A82 Proposals

BEAR Scotland have published their Proposals for Walking and Cycling Improvements on the A82 in Inverness.

 View BEAR Scotland Proposals as a pdf  [22 pages, 2MB]

The section of trunk road under discussion is the A82 in Inverness between Longman Roundabout and Tomnahurich Swing Bridge. It includes:
  • Longman Road 
  • Friars’ Bridge 
  • Kenneth Street 
  • Tomnahurich Street 
  • Glenurquhart Road

One notable extract [from p. 10]:
"The proposals aim to link in with surrounding routes to encourage 
more people to cycle improving health and reducing vehicular use."

This implies modal shift - people choosing to use sustainable transport instead of private cars. To this end, two techniques can be applied:
  • re-allocate road space from carriageway to foot/cycle ways; 
  • make better use of the existing space allocation. 

There are no proposals for space re-allocation - only
statements to perpetuate the current state:

  • “… no car parking spaces are removed as we are aware that there is a strong desire to maintain the current parking spaces.” [p. 6]
  • “… planned to minimise the loss of parking spaces.” [p. 7]

Creating build-outs for easier crossing points also establishes parking spaces more firmly. Breaking up the continuity along the street effectively precludes any future possibility of cycle tracks or lanes.

Widening a pavement means moving the kerb. This usually means moving drains. As long as there is no will to meet this expense, space re-allocation will not happen.

The other option is to make better use of the existing space allocation. This is the preferred option of road engineers as it can often be done with little more than road signs backed up by the appropriate paperwork.

Cyclists already use the [pedestrian only] pavements on Longman Road and Friars’ Bridge. The proposal is to redetermine these pavements for shared use.

The lack of proper cycling infrastructure has led to cycling on the pavement. The reward for walkers and cyclists putting up with this is for it to be made legal.

Providing substandard shared use pavements for walking and cycling may encourage cycling but is likely to inhibit walking and will disadvantage people, particularly those with sensory impairment, by making them feel unsafe.

A good test (but not the only one) for a shared use pavement is how well it can be navigated on a large tricycle. The route should be wide and as straight as possible with no obstacles or visual obstructions. Where the route crosses business entrances, it should remain at the same level as the rest of the pavement and users should have priority over motor traffic crossing. This would have the benefit of a cleaner design by eliminating the need for tactile paving at entrances.

Cycling by Design advises a desirable minimum width of 3m and an absolute minimum width of 2m plus a buffer zone of 0.5m beside the carriageway. (It allows for an unavoidable minimum width of 1.5m over a short distance but this is unsatisfactory unless there is a nearby alternative wider route.) The buffer zone on the other side of the pavement should be up to 0.5m depending on whether adjacent to grass or low/high wall.

Glenurqhart Road is straight and wide but currently the space is poorly used. Re-locating the central lampposts will help wheelchair users but fails to address other issues.

There is great scope for circular arguments here that mainly revolve around the A82 being a trunk road through a residential area. Conflicting issues include:
  • maintaining traffic flow;
  • on-street parking;
  • pedestrian safety;
  • cyclist safety.

The central refuge islands create regular pinch points along the road where some drivers think it is acceptable to ‘squeeze past’ cyclists. On-street parking creates a similar problem with the additional potential hazard of being ‘doored’.

Re-allocation of road space would be the ideal solution but is ruled out on cost grounds. Introducing cycle lanes instead of on-street parking would help.

Comments should be submitted to BEAR Scotland by Fri 21 Sep 2018.

Comments may be added after this blog to enable sharing ideas and will contribute to HCC's response to BEAR Scotland.

Alternatively email comments to HCC at:

Individuals can also email comments directly to BEAR Scotland at:

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Inshes Overbridge – Width Reallocation

 View this blog as a pdf 


The Inshes Overbridge carries Culloden Road (B9006) over the A9. It is not far from Raigmore Hospital, Beechwood, Inshes Retail Park, and Inverness Campus. It has a fairly even gradient so that many people that use it may not realise that they are crossing a bridge.

It is seen as a pinch point between two major road junctions: Inshes Roundabout and the junction to the east with slip-roads to and from the A9.

In the longer term (by 2026), Transport Scotland intends to widen the Inshes Overbridge to accommodate a 4-lane carriageway and a new desirable minimum NMU facility.

This document relates to the Highland Council’s current project, the Inshes Overbridge - Carriageway Widening scheme *, which is an immediate temporary measure intended to alleviate traffic congestion into Inverness town centre.

* It might equally well be named
The Inshes Overbridge - Cycleway Narrowing scheme.

Currently there is a shared 2-way cycle track on the north side of the road. To the east of the overbridge and crossing it, there is no footway of any kind on the south side of the road.


Width will be be reallocated from the 2-way shared cycleway to enable the carriageway to be increased from 2-way to 3-lane (2 heading into town, 1 heading out).

The resulting narrowing of the cycleway will render it sub-standard for its purpose.

This will be mitigated by two main measures:

  • the erection of two ‘Share and Care’ signs.
  • the identification of an alternative route: Inverness Campus, Golden Bridge, Raigmore, King Duncan’s Road, Millburn Road, Eastgate.

Overbridge Details

Detailed proposals have not been published but the width of the overbridge (13.3m between the parapets) is obviously a fixed constraint. The proposed three-lane carriageway will occupy a width of 9.1m (3.1m+2.9m+3.1m) from kerb to kerb.The length of the overbridge is about 25m.

This arrangement will be achieved by reallocating 0.5m of width from the cycleway to the carriageway.

Impact on Cycleway

The RSA Report refers to Transport Scotland’s document Cycling by Design. (The section on Width Requirements for Cycleways is 6.1.4 starting from page 62.)

It recommends a Desirable Width of 3.0m and an Absolute Minimum of 2.0m. The current full width is about 3m but varies along the route.

Section 6.1.5 lists additional clearances. The two that apply for the overbridge:

  • 0.5m for a continuous feature >1.2m or a bridge parapet of any height
  • 0.5m for being adjacent to a live carriageway

Thus the Effective Width of the current cycleway is reduced to the Absolute Minimum of 2m. It (just) satisfies the guidance.

The proposal to reallocate 0.5m from the cycleway to the carriageway will reduce the Effective Width to 1.5m.

There is a note in the guidance saying that, with low flows, a width of 1.5m may be considered over short distances where no alternative is available.

This is open to interpretation. What is a short distance?
It seems reasonable that a short distance occurs around a local obstruction such as a lighting column or a data cabinet. Cyclists and pedestrians can see each other and negotiate past these.

Is the bridge length of about 25m to be considered short? (It might take a cyclist 5 seconds or a pedestrian 15 seconds to travel that distance.)

In addition, there are two separate lighting columns intruding 0.4m into the edge of the cycleway. These are local obstructions and briefly reduce the Effective Width below the Absolute Minimum of 2m (but above 1.5m) thus conforming to the guidance. Reallocating 0.5m from the cycleway will reduce the Effective Width here to about 1.25m which is well below even the exceptional Absolute Minimum of 1.5m.

The claim that “no alternative is available” is difficult to justify when the alternative already exists and will be removed by the new road layout.

Reference Documents

17 Dec 2017  [14 pages]
Stage 1 & 2 Road Safety Audit Report (RSA)
Produced by Wylie:Lodge Road Safety Consultants

for The Highland Council

13 Dec 2017  [21 pages]
Cycle Audit
Produced by The Highland Council

 [HCC - 21 Jan 2018 - Comments welcome]