Tourists, commuters and schoolchildren have been given added motivation to keep that New Year’s resolution with an extra £3.9million to enhance cycling infrastructure over the next two years.
The money has been announced by the Scottish Government as part of an additional £21million investment in transport and will go towards encouraging more people in Scotland to move from four wheels to two.
It will help fast track the delivery of what is expected to become one of Scotland’s most picturesque cycling tourist routes, as well as bringing together remote communities, offering better cycle access to train stations and improving bike parking at schools.
Transport Minister Keith Brown confirmed the package as part of the “shovel-ready” economic stimulus spending announced by Finance Secretary John Swinney.
Mr Brown said:
“2012 has been a fantastic year for cycling in Scotland with our Olympic successes and this has led to a huge surge in interest in cycling both for recreation and as a way of getting around.
“So as we enter 2013 and more people think about taking up cycling with the fitness, financial and environmental benefits that brings, I am pleased to be able to announce this funding to help improve cycling infrastructure for tourists, commuters and schoolchildren in areas throughout Scotland.
“In the Highlands and Argyll & Bute, we are committing £3million to fast track the National Cycle Network route 78 between Oban and Inverness.
“The £2.6million Connon Ferry to Inverness section will be managed by Transport Scotland in partnership with Highland Council and will deliver much-needed safe cycle routes linking remote communities and taking cyclists off the trunk road network by 2015.
“The Great Glen cycle path will be an iconic route which will boost the local economy through the additional tourism in an area which already attracts over 20,000 spectators to the World Mountain Bike Championship each year in Fort William.
“We are also committing £400,000 for the Oban to Appin cycle route to link a remote community off the main Oban to Fort William section of the larger route.
“Half a million pounds will go to improving access to stations on the successful Airdrie to Bathgate railway and contribute to the “greening” of the route currently being taken forward by Central Scotland Forest Trust.
“And £400,000 will be spent on increasing cycle parking at schools, helping encourage more kids to cycle and linking to the Community Links programme delivering safe routes to schools throughout Scotland.”
The funding forms part of a £205million programme of capital projects announced by Finance Secretary John Swinney on December 19.
Mr Swinney had written to Chancellor George Osborne calling on the UK Government to provide an immediate targeted boost to capital investment to protect the recovery in the short term and provide the infrastructure necessary to facilitate long term economic growth.
This followed a 33 per cent cut to Scotland’s capital budget by the UK Government.