The Formartine and Buchan Way is a popular cycle path extending more than 50 miles through the heart of rural Aberdeenshire. Running entirely off road, the route follows the former Formartine and Buchan railway, passing many local attractions and places of interest. It has been named one of Scotland’s great trails, but with an estimated population of 100,000 people living within easy access, there was a need to ensure the route was preserved not only as a wildlife corridor, but well maintained as a sustainable transport option for the use and enjoyment of visitors and local people.
Providing the best possible sustainable transport links was a key priority for Aberdeenshire Council, including a commitment to integrated options that encourage active travel like walking or cycling to improve health and wellbeing, protect the natural environment and tackle climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Arcadis was appointed by Aberdeenshire Council to investigate the feasibility of upgrading the existing Formartine & Buchan cycle route, as well as explore what measures would be required to develop two more long distance cycle routes in the vicinity of the A90, which connects Aberdeen-Ellon and Aberdeen-Stonehaven.
The scope of work included site audits, stakeholder consultation, route analysis, mapping the opportunities and constraints, cost estimates and a detailed cost benefit analysis.
For the existing Formartine & Buchan Way, Arcadis developed a detailed map of proposed improvement measures, with costed recommendations for each. This involved analyzing the existing route and surrounding highways, including a survey to investigate issues and opportunities, as well as key stakeholder consultations and surveys to understand the needs of local people and the communities and business that are impacted by the route.
We also provided feasibility studies for two new cycle routes adjacent to the A90, drawing on our Dutch cycling expertise to develop options and measures, map different routes and provide detailed cost estimates to ensure the quality would be in line with Dutch cycle design standards.
It was essential that all three routes should cater not only for cyclists and pedestrians, but also be suitable for children and anyone with restricted mobility. As a result, we needed to ensure they were of sufficient width and, when carriageway speeds require, that there is room for a protective barrier between the path and the carriageway.
Site audits and GPS video footage helped to generate a sound understanding of issues along the various routes. These were fed into a detailed GIS map, which provided supporting evidence for the proposed measures and opportunities that formed the next stage of delivery. We used this information to establish a series of new route options, which were analysed and compared in order to recommend a preferred approach. The result was an annotated map highlighting proposed routes.
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