Inverness - the top city for cycling
Pictured on the new cycle friendly lane on Huntly Street, Inverness, are (left to right) Stuart Black, Director of Development and Infrastructure, The Highland Council, Fiona McInally, Active Travel Officer with HITRANS and Keith Masson, Policy Co-ordinator - Climate Change, The Highland Council
Inverness is living up to its reputation as a cycle city by emerging as the Scottish city with the highest percentage of residents cycling to work.
The good news has been revealed as HITRANS, the regional transport partnership, and local councils in the Highlands and Islands mark Bike Week 2015, which runs until Sunday 21 June.
Data analysed from the Census shows that 5.6% of journeys made to work by Inverness workers are by bike, the highest of the 7 Scottish cities. When looking more closely at the data, 4 of the top 10 council wards for cycling to work in Scotland are within Inverness at Ness Side, Central, Millburn and Inverness West. This will only be strengthened through ongoing efforts to improve infrastructure to encourage cycling and walking.
At the same time, HITRANS has reported that 22,500 people have used the Millburn Road Cycle Route in Inverness since a counter was installed at the start of this year, averaging 250 per day during drier weather. This is set to increase as the Golden Bridge over the A9 into Inverness Campus is now open to the public.
“The data is very encouraging indeed,” said Ranald Roberston, Director of HITRANS, “and shows that more and more people are making smarter travel choices. This can only be good news in benefiting people’s health, reducing traffic congestion and reducing our carbon footprint. Cycling can often be the quickest way to travel for short journeys.
“We are working extremely hard with our council partners in the Highlands and Islands and Sustrans to promote active travel, including safe cycle routes. The Cycling Action Plan for Scotland has set a shared vision for 10% of everyday journeys being made by bike by 2020 and we are making good progress in working towards achieving this goal in our area.”
Fiona McInally, Active Travel Officer with HITRANS, cycles to work whenever she can. She said: “Small changes can have big impacts and people will soon feel the benefits of cycling to school or work two times a week.“
She is currently developing active travel maps for many of the larger communities in the Highlands and hopes to launch the first maps during Bike Week for Inverness and Fort William.
Stuart Black, Director of Development and Infrastructure with The Highland Council, regularly cycles to work. He is delighted at the increasing number of people getting on their bikes and feeling the benefits of cycling to work.
He said: “For me, cycling to and from work is a great way to start and end the day. It makes my work day more enjoyable and productive, and is a fantastic way to fit exercise into my daily routine. Bike Week is a great initiative for promoting the benefits of cycling to everyone in Highland.
“The Highlands are a great place to cycle. The recent statistics support the recognition Inverness recently received as Scotland’s cycling city. Promoting the benefits of cycling and investing in infrastructure will be a key part of achieving our goal of becoming a low carbon Highlands by 2025.”
Keith Masson, Policy Co-ordinator - Climate Change, The Highland Council, said: “If anyone is interested in taking up cycling or wanting to explore Inverness with some additional pedal power a new pilot electric bike hire scheme was launched in Inverness late last year.
“Carbon CLEVER Cycles is a collaborative project between The Highland Council, Co-wheels Car Club and SSE which allows users to hire an e-bike from two convenient locations - at Falcon Square and Council Headquarters at Glenurquhart Road. The scheme is operated by Co-wheels Car Club and users can hire an e-bike via the Co-wheels website.”
There is also good news for cyclists who enjoy a trip along the Caledonian Canal towpath at Inverness between Millerton Bridge and Dochgarroch Lock Gates. Improvements have been completed on the North Side (Torvean Quarry) by widening and resurfacing some stretches of the towpath to allow cyclists to complete a loop of the canal. This work has been completed thanks to funding from Sustrans and Scottish Canals.
“Everyone is working together to make these projects work,” added Fiona.