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New £733,000 Inverness cycle path under safety review after concerns

"Cycling community needs to have confidence in the safety of the route" says MSP...

A cycle lane that cost three quarters of a million pounds to build is undergoing an urgent safety review agter is was found that parked cars and bins obstruct the path.

The £733,000 route is designed to take cyclists safely from the city centre to a new education and business campus beyond the busy A9 road in Beechwood.

But cyclists say that the route is inadequate as it is blocked by parked cars on the Raigmore Estate, and too narrow to accommodate bikes and cars on King Duncan Road.

Having initially argued that the path did meet safety standards, Highland Council is now to review it next week, both during the day and at night.

Independent MSP John Finnie told the Inverness Courier he was ‘delighted’, and reiterated his suggestion that the road be widened to allow more space for cycle lanes.

He said: "I requested that representatives from the Highland Cycling Campaign be invited to take part and am pleased that this has been agreed.

"Active travel is forming an increasing part of our daily commutes and ensuring that the safety of all road users is of paramount importance.

"I look forward to seeing the results of the independent engineer’s audit and working with the council and the campaign to ensure that the cycling community can have confidence in the safety of the route."

Earlier this year we reported how Scottish Green Party politicians were warning that a £3 billion project to upgrade the Perth to Inverness stretch of the A9 into dual carriageway failed to provide for cyclists.

The party’s Perth branch said it had been told by Transport Scotland that plans for the road do not include cycle paths on both sides.

The new road is “unlikely to have parallel cycle routes” due to “environmental impacts and costs”, Transport Scotland told the Greens.

Alison Johnstone Green MSP and co-convener of Holyrood’s cross-party group on cycling, said she was concerned the conversion of the road to dual carriageway could make it harder for people living along the route to get from A to B by bicycle.

She said that the Scottish government was “under enormous pressure” to increase the number of journeys being made by bicycle.

“It would be monumentally daft if they spent £3bn on a dual carriageway that did not incorporate better cycle infrastructure for Perthshire and Highland communities along the route, not to mention the opportunities for cycle tourism,” said Ms Johnstone.

Roger Humphry of Perth Greens added: “Dualling of the A9 gives an opportunity to improve facilities for walking and cycling but we have no confidence this will happen.”

Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch SNP MSP Dave Thompson dismissed claims that cycle routes would be too expensive as “nonsense”.

Ms Johnstone warned that there was a risk of additional costs if cycle routes were not included in the project’s design.

Transport Minister Keith Brown said the Scottish Government is “actively engaged” with “non-motorised” users to consider the dual carriageway’s design.

Transport Scotland said it was listening to feedback on the A9 project, and said the responses made it clear that people wanted cycling facilities close to the road and also safe crossing points.

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