We are disturbed by reports that cycle paths may not be provided on both sides of the A9. he case for dualling the A9 has always been about increasing safety – and yet the needs of the most vulnerable of all road users are apparently being ignored. As last year’s sad figures have shown, major rural roads are disproportionately dangerous to cyclists, even extremely experienced ones who have taken every precaution. Not providing direct parallel and continuous routes on both sides of this major road – one that is costing £3bn to make safer, remember – risks adding to that toll and it’s not just cyclists who will be affected, but pedestrians and horse riders as well. For the people who live and work along this route, having to cross the road in order to join or leave the paths will mean the A9 becomes a barrier to active travel, instead of a corridor – in some cases dividing communities in two. At best, they’ll remain car-dependent with all the health risks that brings. At worst, another family will be waiting for loved one who will never come home.
According to the Scottish Greens this is due to environmental considerations and costs. Apart from the irony of not providing cycle tracks on ‘environmental grounds’, the cost argument is entirely short sighted. The Scottish government is committed to seeing 10% of journeys by bike by 2020. Not only that, but its Commonwealth Games legacy plans include a commitment to seeing cycling and walking become the norm for shorter journeys. If it is serious in these ambitions, then it will need to provide safe space for cycling – and that will mean proper provision along the A9 sooner rather than later. So why not do it now, when it will be vastly cheaper and easier to include in the main upgrade, than come back and do it at much greater cost later? It’s just plain common sense.
This government is great at talking the talk, setting itself ambitious targets, and claiming to value active travel as the route to a healthier, happier Scotland. Yet when it comes to creating the conditions needed, it falls at every hurdle. That is why we’re pedalling on Parliament on Saturday April 26th. That is why we need you to join us. Before it’s too late.
Together we can make Scotland a cycle friendly country