First part of new £1.6m cycling path unveiled
Children cut ribbon to open key phase of network which links country lanes
The first part of a new £1.6 million cycle route was officially opened in Perthshire yesterday.
School children cut the ribbon on the first phase of the network, linking country lanes between Alyth and Rattray.
Groups of walkers and cyclists from the two towns set off from each end and met in the middle for the formal ceremony.
The grand opening is the first part in the Strathmore Cycle Network, which will connect cyclists and walkers in Alyth, Blairgowrie, Rattray and Coupar Angus.
Locals in the areas joined together a few years ago to form a steering group and have since raised more than £250,000 towards the total cost.
Further funds have come from cycling and footpath charity Sustrans Scotland, which donated £37,000, and the Scottish Rural Development Improving Public Access fund managed by Scottish Natural Heritage, which gave £200,000.
Another £8,000 came from the National Lottery Awards for All fund, in addition to £10,000 from Tactran.
I don’t think anyone thought we would come this far so quickly.
Perth and Kinross Council earmarked a further £100,000 in its recent budget.
Once the later phases are complete, the network will combine eight miles of existing country lanes with seven miles of new cycle routes and walking paths.
Project leaders say the aim is to improve road safety and help to cut carbon emissions and pollution by encouraging more walking and cycling.
Len Seal, chairman of the steering group, said: “When we started this project a couple of years ago, I don’t think anyone thought we would come this far so quickly.
“Now that the first stretch of new path is a reality, it will be much easier to raise funding and encourage community involvement in creating the rest of the network and making a difference for walkers and cyclists in our three towns.
“We are enormously grateful to Perth and Kinross Council, Sustrans and Scottish Natural Heritage for their investment and active support, but most especially to the local landowners Bob Strachan and George King who made the route available and did all the building work.
“None of this would have been possible without them.”
Conservative councillor Colin Stewart said: “The Strathmore Cycle Network offers huge potential benefits.
“Not just the improved health and safety of local walkers and cyclists but also its ability to attract walking and cycling tourists and thereby bringing an economic boost to the local economy.”
No time scale has been set for the completion of the paths.
However, if fundraising goes to plan, it is hoped the network could be finished in the next two or three years.
Harris Brown from Blairgowrie cuts the ribbon to formally open the first phase of the Strathmore Cycle Network, between Rattray and Alyth, watched by Len Seal.