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Cycling boom for rush-hour routes in the north-east

CYCLING rates in the north-east have increased by more than one-third in six years, according to the latest regional transport figures.

The statistics compiled by Nestrans, the regional transport partnership for Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, show the number of cyclists using key routes rose 37 per cent between 2008 to 2014.

In Aberdeen alone the increase was 38 per cent, from 600 in April 2008 to 828 by April 2014. The number of cyclists using routes such as Union Street in the city centre was measured during the morning rush hour from 7.30am to 9am.

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However, the number of children cycling to school in both Aberdeen and ­Aberdeenshire has barely changed since 2008, while the number of pupils walking to school in Aberdeen has fallen from just more than 60 per cent in 2008 to about half in 2013. This appears to have been driven by an increase in the number of children being taken to school by car and, to a lesser extent, a slight increase in bus travel.

Rail patronage continues to increase at every station across the north-east. Since 2004/05 Dyce has seen an increase of 182 per cent, while passenger numbers through Inverurie have increased by 254 per cent. The growth in rail use in the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire areas exceeds the national average for Scotland and has almost doubled in the last decade.

The number of bus passengers in the north- east increased in 2013/14 but still remains just under 2009/10 figures.

A chart comparing 12 morning rush-hour journeys by car and public transport found that completing them all took five-and-a- half hours longer in total using buses and trains than by car, with only one route - from Huntly to Union Street - quicker using public transport.

Meanwhile, the total number of passengers ­passing through Aberdeen Airport is also on the up and in 2013 outstripped the previous pre-recession peak in 2007 for the first time, reaching almost 3.5 million.

Passenger traffic at the airport is expected to reach 4.9 million by 2021.

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