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John Lamont MSP calls for Borders disused rail lines to be made into bike paths

Dangerous roads putting people off riding, says Scottish politician

Showing that it’s not just big cities that need more and better provision for cycling, Scottish parliamentarian John Lamont has called for cycling facilities to be improved in rural areas such as his constituency of Hawick.

According to the Hawick News, he said: “Investment in cycling in the Borders pales into insignificance when compared to more urban areas.”

Mr Lamont is calling for the conversion of the area’s disused railway lines into bike paths.

“There are some great cycling routes including the loops to Newcastleton and Roberton. However, these routes could be made more popular if parts of the A7 road were improved and made safer for cyclists. This could also help many of our local tourism businesses if more cyclists visited the area.”

Cycling’s profile has never been higher, but Mr Lamont points out that surveys show many people won’t get on their bikes because they think the roads are too dangerous.

“We have a unique opportunity at the moment to encourage more people to take up cycling”, he stated. “We cannot allow this opportunity to pass us by and we need to be doing everything we can to encourage cyclists on to our roads. But unfortunately many are being put off by the dangerous environments we currently have on our roads.”

While urban cycling fatalities are the ones that often make the news, RoSPA points out that around half of cyclist fatalities occur on rural roads.

The perceived danger of the roads is why the Borders area needs investment in a cycling network, Mr Lamont said. “By converting old rail lines and building new cycle routes we can help to vastly improve safety and encourage more people to take up this healthy hobby.”

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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