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Transport / Fresh concern over long lines of cruise ship cyclists

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FRESH concerns were raised among islanders this week around cruise ship passengers cycling in long lines on Shetland’s roads.

The issue created discussion on social media earlier this week when passengers disembarked the Aidadiva on bicycles after it docked in Lerwick on Monday.

The point many were making was on safety grounds, with drivers finding it difficult to overtake due to the length of the lines – sometimes leading to frustration on the roads.

There was also concern about safety of oncoming traffic when vehicles do overtake cyclists.

In the post on the Shetland Road Conditions Facebook group there was also a claim that in one instance there were around 50 cyclists in a group.

Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee chair Moraig Lyall said it was good that more passengers were keen to explore on bikes, “but ensuring that this doesn’t unacceptably impact on other road users is important”.

“I would encourage the LPA [Lerwick Port Authority] to ensure that cruise passengers are well briefed about cycling in Shetland, potentially encouraged to try different routes and the size of groups managed,” she said.

“But equally drivers have to show courtesy and care when encountering these groups. They are only expected on around a dozen or so days this year as not all cruise ships carry cycles.”

In response Lerwick Port Authority reiterated it is not directly involved in organising cycle tours which are managed by cruise lines, “only a few of which provide these activities on a limited number of days in the season”.

A spokesperson added: “The authority encourages participation in small groups following different routes in promoting green travel while following the Highway Code.”

It appears Orkney is one step ahead than Shetland on the matter, with the neighbouring islands experiencing the issue repeatedly over recent years.

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Guidance and information packs are now being issued to cruise liners planning to carry out cycle tours in Orkney this year.

Police Scotland and Orkney Islands Council have worked together on the measures, which the organisations say come in a “helpful and easy to understand pack” aimed at promoting safer cycling.

This guidance includes:

  • Select appropriate routes
  • Travel in smaller groups (a maximum of six) plus a qualified guide
  • Cycle two abreast where possible
  • Pay heed to the Highway Code with consideration to other road users, including pulling in and allowing traffic to pass when possible and safe to do so
  • Wear hi-viz clothing

An Orkney Islands Council spokesperson added: “Cruise companies are increasingly looking to offer sustainable and green travel opportunities for their passengers to explore their cruise destinations, but we are mindful of the issues and concerns which have been raised locally around large cycling groups on Orkney’s roads when cruise liners are in – and the frustration that this can cause.”

Orkney copy by Orkney local democracy reporter Andrew Stewart

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