Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone, co-convener of Holyrood’s cross-party group on cycling, is raising concerns that the dualling of the A9 will make it harder for people living along the route to get from A to B by bicycle.
Ms Johnstone is also warning that the £3bn project risks unnecessary additional costs by not including cycle routes in its design.
In answer to a parliamentary question from Ms Johnstone, Transport Minister Keith Brown states that the Scottish Government is “actively engaged” with “non-motorised” users to consider the dual carriageway’s design.
But in correspondence with the Perth branch of the Scottish Green party, a Transport Scotland official working on the project says the new road is unlikely to have parallel cycle routes due to environmental impacts and costs, despite also claiming not to hold information about such costs.
Alison Johnstone MSP said:
“The Scottish Government is under enormous pressure to get the rate of cycling up from the current one per cent of journeys to ten per cent within the next six years. It would be monumentally daft if they spent three billion pounds on a dual carriageway that did not incorporate better cycle infrastructure for Perthshire and Highland communities along the route, not to mention the opportunities for cycle tourism.
“It seems ministers are not in tune with officials managing the project, and they need to sort it out. Cycling campaigners are already weary of the SNP’s excuses on active travel and this latest mess shows they cannot be trusted when they claim to be committed to making cycling the everyday travel option it should be.
“As for the bizarre excuse of cycle lanes’ environmental impacts, I would remind Transport Scotland of their own appraisal of dualling the A9. It shows that the project contradicts the government’s policies by encouraging rather than reducing traffic, leading to increased climate change emissions and noise pollution.”
Roger Humphry of Perth Greens said:
“Dualling of the A9 gives an opportunity to improve facilities for walking and cycling. However we have no confidence that this will happen.
“The correspondence received from Transport Scotland implies that many of the existing crossing points are to be lost and the government agency has failed to do standard costing of a cycle-path alongside the new road even though they are ruling them out on the basis of cost.
“Close to my own village, Errol, it has taken many years of local campaigning to retrofit the A90 Perth to Dundee road with safe crossings and cycle routes. We shouldn't make the same mistake again along the A9."
Questions by Perth Greens:
1. Please would you send me the details of proposed crossings.
The reason for parallel cycle routes on either side of a dualled A9 is
that it will safely connect communities and now is the chance to do it. It
will also allow safe access by communities to the various crossing places that
have been included into the design.
2. Please would you also tell me what consideration has been made for parallel
cycle routes on either side of the proposed dual carriage way?
3. From past data, or from predictions of this project, please can you give me
a rough estimate of the cost of building-in cycle routes from the design stage
in comparison to building them in piece-meal retrospectively?
Transport Scotland's response:
1 – As the design work is just commencing, we are not able to provide you with
details of the proposed crossing points for cyclists. They will be developed
during the course of the design work to be undertaken over the next few years.
As part of the further work required, we will undertake assessments into
cycling facilities and non-motorised users as part of the requirements of the
Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, Cycling by Design, Transport Scotland’s
‘Roads for All, Good Practice Guide for Roads’ and also consult with cycling
and sustainable transport groups regarding future proposals. We have already
held discussions with organisations such as SUSTRANS. We can advise that there
will be no at-grade crossing points on the dual carriageway so safe crossing
for cyclists will be ensured. Given the high number of existing crossing
points, the strategy will be to provide for crossings at new grade-separated
junctions or other structures provided specifically for non-motorised users.
We may seek to connect existing tracks, paths and other routes to make best
use of the crossings provided whilst maintaining the network of tracks, paths
and routes currently used.
2 – The strategy for cycle routes for the A9 corridor is currently being
developed. However, at this stage we consider that it is unlikely that
parallel cycle routes will be provided immediately adjacent to both sides of
the A9. The A9 corridor is highly constrained with features such as
internationally protected ecological sites, designated landscape and the
Highland Mainline Railway in close proximity to the route. There would be
significant additional environmental impacts and costs that would result from
providing parallel cycle routes on either side of the proposed dual
carriageway. Where existing cycle routes are affected or where a need for a
new route is determined a parallel route is likely to be provided. Also, we
will be considering opportunities to enhance existing provisions for cyclists,
where appropriate, to support the scheme objectives.
Request 3 – We do not hold the information you request.