Queensferry Crossing sparks plea for more bridge walks

226,000 people have applied to walk over the new crossing
226,000 people have applied to walk over the new crossing
Have your say

Campaigners have called for bridge walks across Scotland following the huge demand for tickets to stroll over the new Queensferry Crossing.

The move came as Forth Road Bridge officials told Scotland on Sunday they were also considering closing its carriageways for walks.

Banning traffic from all or part of bridges for annual walks is already popular in the United States.

That could be replicated in Scotland with one-day closures of crossings such as the Tay Road Bridge, Kessock Bridge in Inverness and the Erskine Bridge over the Clyde – or by reserving one of their dual carriageways to walkers.

That already happens for events such as the annual Mackinac Bridge Walk in Michigan, which has been held for nearly 60 years and attracts 65,000 people.

In one of the biggest events, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco was closed to vehicles for a day in 1987 to celebrate its 50th anniversary, attracting 250,000 people.

Nearly as many, 226,000, have applied to walk over the Queensferry Crossing in September – more than four-and-a-half times as many as there are tickets.

Now Living Streets, which campaigns for walkers, has urged that similar events on other bridges be considered.

Head of policy Tom Platt said: “Open street events are a fantastic way for people to reclaim their streets and help us all re-imagine the way our towns and cities should be.

“Events such as the Queensferry Crossing opening are a step in the right direction, demonstrating how pleasant streets without vehicles can be.

“The popularity of attending the open Queensferry Crossing makes evident the desire we have to experience our streets without vehicles. Perhaps similar events could be piloted in other parts of Scotland.

“Our ultimate goal, to take events like these forward, would be a more permanent move to prioritising those on foot.”

The Forth Road Bridge said such walks could become part of its plans to attract more visitors after almost all its traffic is switched to the Queensferry Crossing.

Tens of thousands of people a year already cross the bridge along its walkways, but officials are looking at opening the carriageways too for special occasions.

They had planned to close the bridge for a parade to mark its 50th anniversary three years ago, but it was shelved because of the likely traffic disruption and the need for extra safety barriers.

However, with only buses and taxis using the bridge from this autumn, closing at least one of the carriageways for walkers is seen as far more straightforward.

They could also be used as a viewing platform for events such as fireworks displays on the Queensferry Crossing and Forth Bridge on either side.

The forthcoming walks on the new bridge are being seen as a trial run for how such events will be staged in future, including provision of toilets and first aid, and emergency evacuation procedures.

A spokesman said: “There is scope in the future to use the bridge in different ways because a lot of barriers to making these things happen will be lifted when the traffic is taken away.”

VisitScotland welcomed the bridge’s future potential. Chief executive Malcolm Roughead said: “With the significant reduction in traffic planned, the Forth Road Bridge has the potential to be a brilliant new addition to any visitor itinerary, with the chance to not only walk across the bridge in a much quieter atmosphere but also discover more about the history and engineering behind all three of these stunning bridges.”

However, the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency, which runs major bridges, said other closures for walks were not currently being considered.

Its spokeswoman said: “The opportunity to walk across the Queensferry Crossing is a once in a lifetime experience and we are delighted with the response from the public.

“We have no current plans to extend this type of event to any of our other road bridges, many of which have pedestrian access.”