Alyth has joined forces with Blairgowrie/Rattray and Coupar Angus to create a £1.6-million network of cycling and walking routes designed to improve road safety and help cut carbon emissions and pollution.
The three towns have already raised more than £250,000 towards the total, which is now being invested in new cross-country paths and bridges on the first phase, linking Alyth and Rattray and avoiding the main road.
We at ADT are pressing ahead with our counterparts in the other towns on fund-raising and planning to complete what will be known as the Strathmore Cycle Network over the next couple of years.
The Steering Group set up by the three trusts will hold public meetings in early September to help decide the route between Blairgowrie and Coupar Angus. The public meetings will take place at the Coupar Angus Cycle Hub (the old Strathmore Bowling Club) at 7.30pm on 4 September, and 1 Upper Alan Street (Opposite the Royal Hotel carpark) at 7.00pm on 5 September.
Initially, the network is using some 13km (8 miles) of existing country lanes connected by almost 11km (7 miles) of new cycle and walking paths built with the consent and cooperation of landowners along the route.
The only exception to this is where it crosses the River Isla just north of Coupar Angus via the Couttie Bridge. This could involve converting the A923 at that point to a single carriageway controlled by traffic lights plus a dedicated cycle lane, along with new paths constructed north and south of the bridge away from the road.
Later phases will see new paths built to bypass public roads altogether and provide dedicated direct routes for cyclists and walkers between the three communities well away from motor traffic.
The project has so far secured £37,000 from the cycling and footpath charity Sustrans Scotland, £200,000 from the Scottish Government’s Improving Access for All fund, £8,000 from the National Lottery Awards for All fund, and £10,000 from Tactran – the statutory regional transport partnership covering the Angus, Dundee, Perth & Kinross and Stirling council areas. Perth & Kinross Council has earmarked a further £100,000 for the network in its recent budget.
Len Seal, chair of the steering group set up to deliver the project, said: “I am amazed and really pleased at the rate of progress. I think this is down to the Development Trusts in all three towns working well together, to support from Sustrans and PKC and the public spiritedness of local landowners.”
Dave Keane, Sustrans Scotland’s community links manager, commented: “Sustrans is delighted to be funding the design of a walking and cycling path between Coupar Angus and Blairgowrie which would help residents and visitors to the area using the main road which connects the two towns.
“We hope the design will lead to the creation of a safe and accessible walking cycling path which can be used by all, including pupils travelling from Coupar Angus to Blairgowrie High School.”
Councillor Kathleen Baird, PKC’s Environment and Infrastructure Committee Vice-Convener, commented: “We’re pleased to see this project coming forward that aims to improve road safety for cyclists in East Perthshire. This is reflected in the £100,000 earmarked in the capital budget for the Strathmore Cycle Network. The joint working approach by local communities and the Council has clearly been bearing fruit and provides a really good example of a community-led drive to make a difference at a local level.”
Local councillor for Strathmore, Colin Stewart, said: “I was delighted to be able to secure £100,000 in the Council’s latest budget towards completing the next phase of the Strathmore Cycle Network, a project that will benefit the whole area in terms of active travel, health, leisure, tourism and economic development. Supporting a community-led project such as the Cycle Network is exactly the sort of investment that the Council should be making in our communities on behalf of our residents and taxpayers, and I congratulate all of the volunteers involved for their huge efforts in getting the project to this stage.”
SNH commented: “This project is a great example of people working together to achieve a shared goal and we are delighted to have been involved. Linking paths and communities not only helps people to travel in a way that helps our environment, it can help people to connect with nature and enjoy all the health benefits of being active and outdoors. We hope this project will encourage more people to travel through this beautiful area of rural Perthshire.”
The number of people walking or cycling for pleasure and to get to work or school has been increasing in recent years. Figures from Transport Scotland show that Scots are estimated to have cycled 352 million vehicle-kilometres in 2016, up from 343 million in 2015, at an average of 7.6km per journey: https://www.transport.gov.scot/publication/26-september-2017-transport-and-travel-in-scotland-2016/7-walking-and-cycling/
The Scottish Government has a Cycling Action Plan for Scotland with a target of 10% of everyday journeys being made by bike by 2020. The Plan outlines the benefits of more people cycling and walking as:
- easing congestion
- reducing noise pollution
- cutting exhaust emissions
- improving health
- saving money