First part of new £1.6m cy­cling path un­veiled

Chil­dren cut rib­bon to open key phase of net­work which links coun­try lanes

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - NEWS - RYAN MA­HER

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.

LEN SEAL

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.

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