Edinburgh City Council have announced plans to build a new cycling route crossing the city centre. The plans will cost around Nine million pounds to complete and the completed cycle route is intended to be 'family-friendly'. The plan goes before councillors at a meeting on Tuesday 27th October and if approved will subsequently go through a period of public consultation.

 

The route is designed to fill a key gap in the existing network of cycle paths in the city and the intention is to have as many segregated sections of bike lane as possible to protect cyclists from other traffic.

Cycling campaigners have been generally supportive of the plans but some say the focus on a 'family-friendly' layout is perhaps missing the point of long term investments in cycling. The first intention in quite major infrastructure investment should be to make the route 'commuter-friendly'. These sort of investments should make cycling a viable, quick and safe alternative to driving. Construction should be aimed at creating direct routes between key points in the city along which cyclists can quickly get from point-to-point safely.

In fairness to Edinburgh City Council they have announced targets to have '15% of all commuters cycling to work by 2020'. With a recent poll suggesting almost three-quarters of residents support further investment in cycling in Edinburgh, this target may well be achievable with plans such as these. The proposed new Edinburgh cycle route will require a reduction in parking around Melville Street and the removal of bus lanes on Haymarket Terrace and may face opposition from drivers in the public consultation phase.

The proposed new Edinburgh cycle route will across the city centre from Leith Walk to Roseburn via George Street. It is designed to tie in with ongoing improvement works around Leith Walk and George Street. The designs are intended to improve on the current situation where this is considerable conflict between bikes and the Edinburgh trams in particular. A number of accidents have occurred with cyclists getting wheels stuck in tram lines and a number of these cyclists are considering legal action against the Council.

Overall these plans are a step in the right direction for Edinburgh. It remains to be seen whether they can be delivered on time and on budget. Hopefully we will also see similar investments in the other big Scottish cities. It would be good to see Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and Dundee investing in similar schemes. Around Scotland, however, cycling infrastructure investment is gaining a higher profile as the benefit from these schemes is better understood by councils. Inverness recently opened a £3 million cycle path from Inverness to Fort William, alongside Loch Ness.

This is a great little 22 mile mountain biking route from Inveruglas, Loch Lomond. The route shown in the GPX track below includes a short extension up to the Sloy Dam which is well worth a look.

The route is well maintained throughout and mostly gravel with some tarmac sections - generally a route for all abilities and the wide and quiet nature of the route means it is perfect for families. Similarly, although the full route is 22 miles, this can easily be shortened as necessary - for example just limited to cycling to the dam and back.

Although the gradients are generally very manageable in terms of steepness the route does gain a fair amount of height in parts and stunning views back down towards Loch Lomond are the reward for your efforts.

The route starts from the Inveruglas visit centre, right on the banks of Loch Lomond. This centre includes a Cafe (Cafe Lochan) and is open 7 days week from 08:30am - 4:30pm. There is usually plenty of parking available in the large car park even though this a busy stopping spot. The cafe is a lovely place for a pre- or post- ride coffee with a view and there is plenty of outdoor seating. There's good cafe food available including cakes, panini and sandwiches.

The route starts along the footpath alongside the fairly busy A82, past the imposing Sloy Power Station before quickly turning off and up into the hills. The route sticks to fairly low ground below Ben Vorlich and Ben Vane - both of which are seen from the circuit. For those wishing to climb either of these Munros on foot, cycling to the base of the climb is a good way to save some time from the ascent.

The roads used are well maintained as there are required for vehicles from the power station and dam, and some forestry vehicles, but for most of the year and especially at weekends the roads are quiet except for walkers.

Completing the full circuit as shown requires a short section alongside the A83 in Succoth, again a well maintained and wide footpath is available to avoid the traffic on this short section.

Overall a highly recommended, safe, mountain biking cycle route for all abilities with some rewarding views and a cafe on the banks of Loch Lomond at the start/finish point - what more could you ask for?

 

Total distance: 22.13 mi
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Route 78 Fort William Inverness Loch NessTransport Scotland have announced completion of the Great Glen cycleway, part of Route 78. The path provides a new, safe, cycle route connecting Inverness with Fort William alongside Loch Ness. The building project was to create a safer alternative to riding on the busy A82 route where traffic is heavy and the risk of accidents high.

The new Cycle Network Route is the last leg of the so-called Caledonia Way, part of route 78. As you'd expect from cycling is this area of the Highlands, the route is particularly scenic with views across Loch Ness and others.

The route from Fort William or Inverness alongside Loch Ness is already a popular route with cyclists. The whole route from point to point is approximately 66 miles, but clearly shorter routes are possible. It is possible, for example, to complete a loop of Loch Ness from Inverness via Fort Augustus although to make it a loop would require the cyclist to again use the A82 on the West lochside which is not recommended. The new route is called the Great Glen Way and supported by Sustrans.

The full .GPX map for this cycle route from Fort William to Inverness is below. Some sections are on roads but the vast majority of these are quiet and far less busy roads than the A82 which is avoided.

The National Director for Scotland at Sustran's, John Lauder has said quite rightly that "The Great Glen Cycleway showcases some of Scotland's finest scenery." In several sections the route is shared between cyclists and walkers and care will be needed on some of these busier sections but the completion of the route is major step forward for cycling in the Highlands.

Overall, last year 120 million journeys were recorded on the National Cycle Network across the UK, and the continued investment in Scotland is planned. This is now the 20th year of the National Cycle Network and with the continued development makes it an exciting time and can only lead to cycling being safer and more enjoyable for people of all ages and abilities.

The GPX track for the next completed route is below. Download this cycle route to your cycle computer to be able to follow Route 78 via GPS route. The GPX route can also be uploaded to your phone to several different apps that are designed for cyclists and walkers.

Total distance: 66.28 mi
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Sea Views

Sea Views

Oban is the gateway to the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. It is a busy port with frequent ferries out to the Isle of Mull and beyond to the smaller Isles off the coast. For travellers there are a large number of high quality Oban B&Bs to choose from, from the luxurious to the basic, as well hotels offering lunch and dinner. As a cyclist, Oban is a dream - there are stunning routes available for both road cyclists and mountain bikers. The Isle of Mull is a particular highlight.

So where to stay in Oban? We review several places you may wish to consider. Bike storage can be an issue. Most of the B&Bs do not have cycle storage. The Oban Hostel has good bike storage available for those willing to forgo their luxuries!

MacKay's Guest House

Our first review is of MacKay's Guest House. This is on the luxury end of the Oban B&B spectrum and generally roomWhere to stay in Oban rates range from £110-150 per night. The reward for this is luxury, cosy rooms, with views such as the featured picture above. Many of the room even come with complementary brandy to warm you on arrival!

Breakfast is a great as you will come to expect from a Scottish B&B with Stornaway black pudding and local haggis optional extras to the full Scottish offerings.

There is plenty of parking, including out of sight parking to the rear of the building. No secure dedicated bike parking, but bikes should be safe out if covered in a car parked to the rear of the property.

Oban Youth Hostel

Oban Youth HostelJumping immediately to the other end of the Oban B&B luxury spectrum we have Oban Youth Hostel. Having said that, it is sometimes described to be more like a hotel that your usual impression of a youth hostel. Top pros of the place include secure bike storage and sea views in many rooms. The rates are from £25 but you can spend more and get a private or family room.

Oban Cycles

For those not travelling with bikes then I recommend Oban Cycles for bike storage - and also any bike maintenance issues you may have. It has an excellent central location and excellent reputation and good, old fashioned local bike shop. Worthy of your support when you're in town.

Worth a Mention

Also worth checking out: Tigh Bhan. It's about 25 miles north of Oban on way to Fort William but has a good range of B&B and self catering accommodation options. It is a good stopping point for those attempting Land's End to John O' Groats with secure bike storage available for those stopping. A hearty breakfast is served each morning.

Cycling Scotland MSP Parliament ExpensesJust one Member of the Scottish Parliament claimed expenses for movement by bike to Holyrood last year.

Claudia Bearmish, MSP, claimed £7.20 commuting to her capital base to Holyrood, taking advantage of the 20p per mile allowance.

Other MSPs, however, claimed £240,000 in mileage for their cars.

Claudia cycled her 3 mile journey twelve times over the last year, per records of MSPs’ expenses for the last yr. "For me it's out and away the most effective approach of movement around capital"


Source: Just one Scots MSP claims 20p per mile allowance for cycling to Holyrood | road.cc

Frozen Ice Bike Scotland

CYCLING is as fashionable as ever and Halfords reported a profit of £1 billion this year. The Scotsman have published a basic guide to cycling, particularly commuting, in Scotland. See below for some highlights and click the link to visit for the full article.

BIKE

"Sites like Freecycle permit users to advertise things free of charge. Paying for a second hand bike comes with its own set of risks. Superficial wear and tear may be noticed but there may be mechanical issues that are not seen. Avoid a frame that appears rusty, cracked or crumpled and get it checked by a qualified bike mechanic before riding..."

EQUIPMENT

"A helmet, whereas not a legal demand, is strongly recommended. It offers protection for any unforeseen road accidents, and is wise investment.

Bike theft isn't uncommon, thus a durable lock is strongly recommended.

Cycling at night comes with its own risks, and for that reason we advocate that you simply wear some type of high visibility clothing or reflectors. This permits traffic to see you on dark nights..."

ETIQUETTE

If you wish to be treated respectfully as a road user, act respectfully of other road users. Once the lights flip red, don’t rush through them, as you’ll in all probability cause an accident. Similarly, don’t suddenly ride on the pavement then rejoin the traffic further up the road.

If the thought of busy road fills you with dread, then attempt the quieter back roads...

BUSINESS OR PLEASURE

"Scotland incorporates a nice network of cycle routes both in and around cities, which supply a way of freedom that cars and buses simply can’t..."

DANGERS

"Cycling within towns comes with its own set of dangers - principally avoiding other vehicles..."

MAINTAINING YOUR BIKE

"As a general rule, your bike ought to be maintained a minimum of once a year..."

Source: A guide to city cycling in Scotland - The Scotsman

The Isle of Mull is one of the most beautiful Scottish islands. Located in the Inner Hebrides it is easily accessible for cyclists via the frequent ferry service from Oban to Craignure. The ferry costs £5.65 single (£9.45 return) with bikes free (Timetable). The ferry journey itself is beautiful, especially when the weather is good enough to sit outside on the ferry decks.

There are a number of excellent road cycling routes. A loop of the whole island is 87 miles but shorter routes down to 21 miles direct from Craignure to Tobermory are available if you want to maximise your time whiskey tasting at Tobermory Distillery! (more…)

Carron Valley Reservoir

The Crow Road and Tak Ma Doon cycle route is a great cycling loop route - the start and finish point of this circuit is at some free parking at Milton of Campsie which is only a fairly short drive from Glasgow, or Stirling, for example.

Taking the clockwise cycle route the road starts up the Crow Road fairly soon after leaving from the car park base. This is long climb but at a fairly manageable incline. Some steeper sections are followed by flatter sections which give time for recover. Once at the top of the Crow Road there is a long relatively flat section which passes the Carron Valley Reservoir, a really beautiful section of the route. Then theres a shorter section of further climbing before the steep descent down the Tak-Ma-Doon road. It is worth pausing at the car park at the top of the Tak-Ma-Doon cycle to enjoy the spectacular views and prepare for the descent itself. Beware that it requires fairly constant use of the brakes and can be quite hazardous especially in icy conditions with lots of tight, sometime blind, bends. (more…)

hoy_velodrome_Sir_Chris_Hoy_Velodrome_in_Commonwealth_ArenaThe opening of the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow was associated with some well justified exciting in the cycling community. Since its opening it has hosted the World Cup, Revolution and Junior Track World Championships. It is first rate venue of international standards and the best news of all is that anyone can ride the track cycling Glasgow Velodrome!

You need to complete four levels of 'accreditation'. Accredit 1 - 4. These are formally coached and assessed sessions that take you from the very basics of starting to ride a track bike to the basics of racing. Once you're fully accredited you are free to ride the other indoor velodromes in the country such as Manchester. Manchester accreditation similarly allows for riding in Glasgow.

Registration for accreditation is done via an online booking page if you are a Glasgow Life member. If not, then there is a form and contact details at the following link: Emirates Arena. There is a small fee of around £25 for each session and this includes 1-2 hours of small group coaching and full hire of the bike and all other kit required with exclusive use of the velodrome for the group - I consider this to be very good value overall for the total package you're getting.

Once you've completed your accreditation you're free to book into free riding session, or further coached sessions with a certain focus - e.g. track sprinting or pursuit. You are also eligible to enter in the track league races and other track races held on the track.

Glasgow PotholeAnyone who cycles in Scotland knows how bad the roads can be. It is true that potholes are a problem for cyclists around the whole of the UK but it is perceived the Scottish road potholes are the worst. Expecting potholes on every blind corner is a known hazard, ignored at your peril. Even cycling routes you know well is not guaranteed to be safe as deep crevasses seem to open up in a matter or days, especially during the heavy rains and freeze-thaw cycles of the winter months.

A recent BBC article has shed light on just how much Scottish councils pay out - £360,000 for Glasgow City Council alone last year! This money was just compensation to drivers with damage to their cars. Remember that cyclists, too, can claim for any damage sustained from potholes, either direct or as a result of crash caused by a pothole. British Cycling provide good information on this and some of their membership categories offer some legal support in this respect.

Remember that if you see a pothole when out cycling that you must report it to your local council. Glasgow City Council, ironically, have one of the best website services for this: http://glasgow.mycouncilservices.com/ and you can make your report anonymously or register to track the confirmation from the council that they have received the report and will address it. They even have a smartphone application which you can use to take photos of the pothole in question for your report.

There are also various very effective third party websites such as http://www.fixmystreet.com/ and http://www.fillthathole.org.uk/ or the associated smartphone applications. It can be quite surprising how quickly councils respond to these reports. Once the potholes have been reported the information in saved on a database. Any damage that occurs to cars or bikes as a result of the pothole, after it has been reported, becomes much harder for them to defend and avoid paying out compensation. It everyone made the effort to report even pothole they came across then it really could it improve the roads for everyone.