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Transport / More can be done to encourage people to cycle, Lerwick community councillors say

CALLS were made at a meeting of Lerwick Community Council last night (Monday) to improve provision for cycling in and around the town.

Community councillor Karen Fraser said she felt it would be beneficial to allow people to cycle – with consideration – on pavements when it is quiet instead of the road.

Arwed Wenger, meanwhile, said investing in cycle paths could see more folk take to the saddle.

The discussion came as the community council responded to an ongoing consultation on Shetland’s active travel strategy.

Active travel relates to methods like walking and cycling, and it is something which the lockdown and pandemic has seemingly encouraged.

Fraser said she felt during quiet periods when less people are out walking cycling on pavements could be a safer option than the road.

“I would like to see bylaws changed so that pavements can be dual use,” she said.

Andy Carter said this was something he generally agreed with, but he believed more could be done to promote the use of bells on bikes to keep pedestrians aware.

Cycling on a footway or footpath in Scotland is generally an offence under the provisions of section 129(5) of the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984, while it is prohibited under the Highway Code.

There are, however, a number of caveats, according to the Scottish Parliament’s information centre.

It says it is not an offence in Scotland to cycle across a footway or footpath to access a cycle track, driveway or other land where cycling is allowed.

Land reform legislation also allows cycling on any path where access has not been restricted by a traffic regulation order, which in practice tends to enable access to most paths in urban parks and rural areas.

People are also allowed to cycle on designated core paths.

Wenger, meanwhile, said he believed if there were more cycle paths then more people would cycle.

He likened it to the “chicken or the egg” scenario.

Wenger also expressed concern over the behaviour of some drivers when it comes to sharing the road with cyclists, while he also called for bicycles to be allowed on public service buses.

Damian Ristori said he thought it was down to the driver’s discretion whether to let a bicycle on the bus, although storage is generally for items like prams.

Lerwick councillor Stephen Leask also suggested a cycle path between the town and Gulberwick could be useful in theory.

Lower speed limits are set to be trialled between Sound Brae, Gulberwick and the Black Gaet amid concerns over safety from people cycling and walking in the area.

Carter, however, said he believed one thing in particular could be a stumbling block when it comes to promoting active travel in Shetland – the weather.

“I think the report is saying the right things…but I think it needs to be tempered with a peerie bit of realism in places,” he said.