Last month, Alex and I were one of 50,000 people to take part in a “once in a lifetime opportunity” to walk over the new Queensferry Crossing.
The event was sanctioned by the SNP Scottish government, so there is a good chance that they will start talking about repeating this “once in a lifetime opportunity” within a couple of years.
The reason having a walk is described as a once in a lifetime opportunity is because the Scottish government have somehow conspired to build a major transport link with no active travel facilities. This is the year 2017, when we should be thinking about bringing the era of the car to an end.
But there is no access for cyclists. There are no walkways for pedestrians. These were cost-cut out of the project so that the Scottish government could still say it was on budget.
Still, the construction of the Queensferry Crossing is to be celebrated. It secures the future of one of Scotland’s most important transport links.
Having spent my first 24 years living in Kirkcaldy, and the last two living in Edinburgh, I have always been a frequent user of the Forth Road Bridge.
The area is now an incredible showcase of modern engineering through the ages. The iconic Forth Bridge represents a late 19th century response to the Tay Bridge disaster. It is over-engineered, but all the more special for it.
The Forth Road Bridge is a typical suspension bridge of the mid-20th century. The flaws in this design have become apparent over time. It’s not helped by the fact that it has to carry around double the amount of traffic planned.
Deserted Forth Road Bridge
The week before our walk, I cycled across the Forth Road Bridge for the first time. I hadn’t really thought about it until I set off, but this was the first day the bridge was closed to traffic. Coming over the crest of a hill, into view of the deserted Forth Road Bridge, was a spooky experience.
I say it was deserted, but it was in fact fairly busy with cyclists, runners and pedestrians. Perhaps they were encouraged to get active by the lack of traffic, or perhaps just out of curiosity. One person even took the opportunity to cycle on the empty road.
But the quietness of what is normally one of Scotland’s busiest roads was truly eerie. In the distance, the traffic crossing the newly-opened Queensferry Crossing could be heard. Some people were beeping their horns, presumably in celebration.
Our walk across the Queensferry Crossing
Come the weekend it was time for our walk across the new Queensferry Crossing. It threatened to drizzle, but it was in fact gloriously sunny.
It is a very attractive bridge, which I think is partly why the ballot to walk across was so popular. It’s just a shame we won’t get another chance to walk or cycle across to admire it.