At last Wednesday’s meeting of the Suburban Community Council the Chair, Dick Youngson, told the meeting that they had recently had a quite a useful meeting with Transport Scotland and their consultants Jacobs concerning the bypass.
Brian Stewart, Secretary of West CC, made one very specific point arising out of the bypass meeting Dick outlined. He said:
“It may not be something that everyone wants to sign up to but one of the questions that came up, I was one of several people who raised it. When they get around to building the bypass, are they going to do, as they have done with parts of the A9 and as we have also got between Sainsbury’s and Auldearn, are they going to put in a cycle lane? A separate cycle lane alongside it because if they are zoning a strip of land all the way around Nairn it seems an obvious thing to improve is to do a parallel, separate cycle lane. There is no way people are going to want to cycle on a dual-carriageway but cycling is important for Nairn, cycling is a policy priority. So there is a strong argument for using the opportunity of this new build to design in cycle routes as well as just cycle crossings along this section.
Transport Scotland were remarkably hostile, the furthest they would go was to kind of suggest at each end of the bypass where there’s junctions and roundabouts, they might put in crossing areas so that any existing cycle route could then find its way not under or over but across – which kind of misses the point. I did draw their attention to what they do up and around Dalwhinnie and what they have done with the new bit of the dual carriageway of the A9. I don’t know whether the National Park Authority insists on this but it is something that Transport Scotland will only deliver if they are prevailed upon to do it because they themselves see it either as necessary or desirable. If Highland Council is serious about encouraging healthy routes to school, about encouraging cycling and all the rest of it, this is something that at the moment isn’t in the plans and arguably should be."
Gurn comment: it would be a brave individual that cycled to Inverness along the A96 these days or even over the back road unofficial bypass but it isn't unknown. There is a cycle route over the hills to Inverness of course which is part of the national cycle network but it takes you via a 26 mile route so it is impractical for commuting purposes for all or part of the way to Inverness. Brian Stewart is right, building the A96 bypass and the dual carriageway to Inverness presents an opportunity to put in a facility to encourage more and safer cycling in the area. Will our politicians act to ensure this happens? It is the kind of deed that needs to be done to make all the pro-cycling spin a reality.