Wednesday, 6 April 2011

The Innes Street Underpass Over-reaction

I don't know how well you know Inverness but it can be a bit of nightmare getting from one side of the city to the other on foot or by bike.

There are lots of busy roads, narrow pavements and few crossings.

For years I've cycled to an office in the Longman Industrial Estate from the railway station, making use of an underpass linking Rose Street with Innes Street. There isn't really any other way to get across the railway line other than going all the way along Millburn Road and across the level crossing and under the wee tunnel towards the car dealerships. The thought of negotiating the roundabouts at Rose Street and Harbour Road and the dual carriageway in between makes me shudder.

A few weeks back some metal barriers appeared at both ends of the underpass. This means all users - pedestrians, wifies with message bags, mums with buggies and cyclists like me - have to bunch up and at times queue to get through.

After being given a bit of a run around by the council it turns out they installed the barriers after being contacted by the police who in turn had been contacted by people apparently complaining of almost being knocked over by cyclists going into the underpass at great speed. It seems it's a useful route for students at the college who cycle on the pavement next to the dual carriageway across the railway line and then down a steep sloped path next to some steps which emerge onto Innes Street.

In a bid to resolve an issue the authorities have just made things worse for everyone. The real problem of course is how difficult/dangerous it can be getting around the city by bike so it's understandable (but not excusable) that some younger dudes cut corners and act without due care. Installing metal barriers in the underpass won't stop students whizzing down the hill - so perhaps barriers on the hill (like on Stephen's Brae) or even just a sign asking them to slow down? Or paint a white line down the middle of the underpass making one side a cycle lane.

One of the local councillors is on the case and is keen to resolve it to satisfy all and has promised to keep me updated.

Why aren't Highland Council and others doing more to make places like Inverness easier to get around other than by car? Am I a one man band? Have I been inhaling too many exhaust fumes?

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