Transport Minister, Keith Brown, has announced today [2nd January 2013] funding of almost £4 million [£3.9m] towards the development of the National Cycle Network.
Three quarters of this [£3m] will be spent on a dedicated cycle track between Oban and Inverness.
A further £400,000 is to be spent on making cycling to school safer and more attractive for children.
The funding is part of the capital projects investment announced by Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney, in December 2012.
Keith Brown describes 2012 as being ‘a fantastic year for cycling in Scotland’, with the Olympic success of the sport itself, of the UK-wide team and of spectacularly inspirational athletes like Scotland’s Chris Hoy leading to a huge surge in interest in cycling both for recreation and as a way of getting around.
The Transport Minister is on the record as having committed himself to cycling more himself in getting to work in the coming year.
Mischief makes it irresistible to advise him to stay away from the climb up to Rest and Be Thankful on Argyll’s unpredictable A83 – lest he find himself suddenly inspecting at close quarters the emergency route below, destined as a relief track when landslides clobber the trunk road. A cyclist would be swept over the barrier and down the hill in no time in these circumstances.
Mr Brown says: ‘In the Highlands and Argyll & Bute, we are committing £3m to fast track the National Cycle Network ‘Route 78′ between Oban and Inverness.
‘The Great Glen cycle path will be an iconic route which will boost the local economy through additional tourism. Indeed it will – and bang on message in adding to Scotland’s USP of activity tourism in breathtakingly beautiful surroundings.
Michael Russell, SNP MSP for Argyll and Bute says: ‘I welcome this commitment to route 78, and particularly the cycle route to be created between Oban and Appin, to link a remote community off the main Oban to Fort William section of the larger route.
‘This news is a terrific start to 2013 and demonstrates a clear commitment by the SNP Government’s to the areas tourist potential.’
The funding forms part of a £205m programme of capital projects announced by Finance Secretary John Swinney on 19th December, assisted by additional funding of £369 million for ‘shovel ready’ capital projects granted to Scotland by UK Chancellor George Osborne.
This grant is aimed to protect economic recovery in the short term to 2014-15 and contribute to the infrastructure necessary to facilitate Scotland’s long term economic growth,
With an accompanying reduction in Scotland’s capital budget of 26% over the period to 2014-15 the overall uplift to Scotland of the additional finance for capital projects is £330 million.
Route 78 has a ring about it. [Which one is Route 66?] Some fit cycling fanatic of a musician will surely come up with a song to promote it? But anyone set to start composing should wait first to ride the route when it’s ready – and then see, literally, how it plays.