Transport / A ‘waste of money’? Differing views from councillors on prospect of cycle routes

THERE were entirely differing views on the idea of improving cycling connectivity from Lerwick to Scalloway and Tingwall in the council chamber this week – with one elected member saying designated routes would be a “complete waste of money”.

Shetland South councillor Allison Duncan said with a SIC needing to be prudent with finances, “surely this is one piece of project that doesn’t need any work”.

But fellow ward member Alex Armitage, who travels by bike, said cycling is an “important part of the future of transport in Shetland”.

Allison ‘Flea’ Duncan. Photo: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

At Wednesday’s meeting of the full council members agreed to proceed with a number of active travel projects which are all supported by grant funding.

It includes the construction of a shared use path in Burravoe, and smaller path work in Baltasound, Symbister, Aith and Sandwick.


The total capital cost is estimated at £250,000.

Exploration of a cycle route between Lerwick and Scalloway, and a feasibility study on improving cycling connectivity between the town and Tingwall, would also be carried out.

Duncan said he felt the council should forget about it given that Scalloway and Tingwall are served by roads and that the recent changes to the Highway Code should benefit cyclists.

The councillor also felt that council officers have enough work to do already.

But development committee chairman Dennis Leask praised council staff for progressing active travel projects.

And Armitage spoke up for cycling being part of Shetland’s transport future, highlighting there are carbon and health benefits to pedalling, while he noted how e-bikes can help with some of Shetland’s terrain and elements.

Fellow Shetland South councillor Bryan Peterson quipped that he often has ward meetings with Armitage in passing places after overtaking him on his bike.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland South councillor Alex Armitage.

“It’s the easiest way to get a hold of him,” he said.

Concern has been raised in the past about the safety of cycling on the roads, and designated routes or paths could improve that.

Meanwhile environment and transport committee chair Moraig Lyall said it would be foolish not to take advantage of external funding.

A number of other business justification cases for projects, including for other new footpaths and a multicourt refurbishment, were also approved at Wednesday’s meeting.

One of the business cases related to new footpaths in Baltasound, Brae, Symbister, Lerwick and Gulberwick, which have government funding worth £242,000 lined up.

A £95,000 refurbishment of the Sandwick Junior High School multicourt is also fully covered by grant funding.

An indoor/outdoor area for Sandwick out of school club costing £30,000 is also anticipated to be fully covered by external funding, as is improved out of school and holiday facilities (£34,550) – including outdoor equipment and a Polycrub – for Hame Fae Hame in Scalloway, in conjunction with the local school and the council.


Another multicourt refurbishment, at the Happyhansel Primary School in Walls, has been priced at just over £50,000.

However this does not have grant funding lined up as the project did not meet the criteria in a previous application.

The project was approved in principle at Wednesday’s meeting, and it will be progressed once funding is available.

Assets, commissioning and procurement manager Robert Sinclair said slippage on other projects might be able to cover the cost.

Shetland West councillor Liz Peterson said she was “very disappointed” the SIC did not receive funding for the project.

“There have been a lot of accidents on the multicourt recently,” she added. “In the month of May there were five.”


Shetland Central member Catherine Hughson successfully proposed a motion that should any slippage be identified which could fund the project, then work should be progressed.

Meanwhile councillors also noted that a project improving existing, or constructing new, footpaths in Aith, Sandwick and East Voe in the vicinity of schools and leisure centres is able to tap into £147,000 of annual government funding.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

Shetland News is asking its many readers to consider start paying for their dose of the latest local news delivered straight to their PC, tablet or mobile phone.

Journalism comes at a price and because that price is not being paid in today’s rapidly changing media world, most publishers - national and local - struggle financially despite very healthy audience figures.

Most online publishers have started charging for access to their websites, others have chosen a different route. Shetland News currently has  over 600 supporters  who are all making small voluntary financial contributions. All funds go towards covering our cost and improving the service further.

Your contribution will ensure Shetland News can: -

  • Bring you the headlines as they happen;
  • Stay editorially independent;
  • Give a voice to the community;
  • Grow site traffic further;
  • Research and publish more in-depth news, including more Shetland Lives features.

If you appreciate what we do and feel strongly about impartial local journalism, then please become a supporter of Shetland News by either making a single payment or monthly subscription.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.



Subscribe to a selection of different newsletters from Shetland News, varying from breaking news delivered on the minute, to a weekly round-up of the opinion posts. All delivered straight to your inbox.

Daily Briefing Newsletter Weekly Highlights Newsletter Opinion Newsletter Life in Shetland Newsletter

JavaScript Required

We're sorry, but Shetland News isn't fully functional without JavaScript enabled.
Head over to the help page for instructions on how to enable JavaScript on your browser.

Your Privacy

We use cookies on our site to improve your experience.
By using our service, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy.

Browser is out-of-date

Shetland News isn't fully functional with this version of .
Head over to the help page for instructions on updating your browser for more security, improved speed and the best overall experience on this site.

Interested in Notifications?

Get notifications from Shetland News for important and breaking news.
You can unsubscribe at any time.

Become a supporter of Shetland News

We're committed to ensuring everyone has equitable access to impartial, open and quality local journalism that benefits all residents.

By supporting Shetland News, you play a vital role in ensuring we remain a pivotal resource in supporting the community.

Support us from as little as £3 per month – it only takes a minute to sign up. Thank you.