A forum was held by the Highland Council in Inverness Town House on Monday 04 Feb 2013 from 4.30 to 6.30 concerning the measures being taken to minimise the impact of the Kessock Bridge resurfacing work and the ongoing River Ness Flood Alleviation Scheme.
The meeting was chaired by Councillor Ian Brown, Leader of the Highland Council’s City of Inverness Area Committee with key speakers Cameron Gair (Transport
Scotland) and Bob Nicol (SIS Ltd, Traffic Consultant) speaking about the
Kessock Bridge and Colin Howell (Project Design Manager, The Highland Council) focusing
on the River Ness Flood Alleviation Scheme.
Other representatives on the stage were: Matt Smith (Principal Engineer TECs); David Haas (City Manager); Steve Walker (Stagecoach); Michelle MacRae (First Group); John Kerr (First Group).
The first hour of the forum was taken up by the three presentations. Cameron Gair gave an interesting explanation of the maintenance and improvements from the Kessock Bridge
resurfacing work. This was followed by Bob Nicol showing how Traffic Modelling had been used to predict the expected traffic and hold-ups and measures that were to be taken to alleviate problems. Finally, Colin Howell gave an overview (with fly-through) of the River Ness Flood Alleviation Scheme and how they planned to blend with the Kessock Bridge work.
The second hour was given over to questions from the floor and answers from the speakers or others on the platform as appropriate.
The Kessock Bridge questions were mainly about how the lanes would be managed, effect on public transport and cyclists. The responses were mainly in the form of clarification of known facts. The issue of transport of special needs children to school by taxi did not receive an adequate response. It is unrealistic to expect autistic children to be unaffected by changes in routine such as timings, routes or vehicles. Empathy is not enough.
The River Ness Flood Alleviation Scheme questions mainly related to the reduction in parking particularly along Huntly Street. Disabled parking was to be provided at strategic positions but some concerns expressed by residents and businesses still remained unresolved.
Of the estimated 70 in attendance possibly only 10% were there as cyclists. But what they lacked in numbers they more than compensated for by their participation to the extent that the chairman commented at one point "We're looking for questions that have nothing to do with cycling." In truth he did an excellent job of chairing the forum and the remark seemed good-natured.
Anne Thomas noted the lack of mention of cyclists in any of the presentations. Ron Stewart listed a number of issues and highlighted how little budget (£10,000) was allocated for cycling. Ged Church also spoke a length.
Sinclair Dunnett suggested that all No Entry signs should be supplemented with a "behalve voor fietsen" plate as they do in Holland. Brian MacKenzie thought this was a good idea as "Ik spreek een klein beetje Nederlands".
As a result of a brief follow-up after the forum, the cycling provision on Ness Walk from the Ness Bridge towards the Cathedral (Blog: Friday, 30 November 2012) was clarified. It was explained that the narrow (one-way) road with its extra wide pavement on the river side of the road was done with the intention of allowing (unsegregated) cycling on the pavement. It was recognised that the signage did not make this clear and this would be corrected as part of the work.