Convenors Report to 2024 AGM

from John Davidson

(PDF of Convenors Report 2024)

Thanks to all of our dedicated committee and our members for all they’ve done to help people get around safely and actively this year. Our committee is small and pushed for time, so any help that members can provide is much appreciated.

I hope you’ll agree we’ve improved our communication over this year, with regular newsletters now going out to all members and linking back to the HCC website where appropriate. We are also using these to target particular consultation dates to encourage as many people to feed back into the system and speak up for cycling and active travel.

A number of us gave interim feedback on the 20mph limits project, and there will be further official consultation on this later in the year at the end of the trial period. It will be important for our voices to be heard when that time comes as many of us would like to see those limits extended rather than curtailed.

The Riverside Way – the first genuine segregated cycle route in Inverness – appears to be progressing well (although the last update meeting they held was rearranged and clashed with our committee meeting). That will be open later in the summer or early autumn.

The row over changes to Academy Street continues. While not a cycling scheme per say, it’s important to put people and place at heart of the city and it will benefit us as cyclists by reducing traffic and improving the environment in this part of the city centre, which is one of the most polluted streets in Scotland.

We’ve also been developing our own grant-funding project which groups will be able to apply for. This will help spread our focus away from Inverness and to those advocating for better cycling provision elsewhere in the Highlands.

Finally, I’d like to put on record my intention to step down from the convener’s role following the AGM. I’ve held the position for five or six years(?) now, but feel I do not have the time to do the role justice. I will continue to be a member of HCC and would be happy to help out with smaller tasks on the committee, as appropriate.

Thanks once again to the rest of the committee for all their hard work.

Join the HCC team!

Our AGM is were we select our committee for the year ahead – the more people involved the greater our impact! Here’s some of the roles we need to fill

Constitutionally Required Positions

Convenor:  Chair meetings of the HCC and co-ordinate the work of the organisation.  Act as the figurehead of the HCC. 

Secretary: To arrange the HCC AGM in compliance with the constitution. To ensure minutes are produced and circulated from the AGM and other meetings. To act as vice-convener. 

Treasurer:  Oversee the finances of HCC including fundraising, payment of invoices, grant applications and ensuring the annual accounts are completed in a timely manner and signed off by an external auditor. 

Other Positions

Membership:  To oversee administration of the HCC membership data, including ensuring personal data is secure and stored in compliance with regulations.  To grow the membership of the HCC. 

Website & Social Media:  To administer and update the HCC website. To administer the HCC social media channels. To edit a HCC newsletter.  

Publicity: Dealing with requests from the media and issuing press releases. 

Ordinary Member: Will normally be part of one of the HCC Campaign Teams.   Our current campaign groups are:

  • Safer Cycling | 20mph streets
  • Connected Cycling | connecting communities and connecting with public transport
  • Inclusive Cycling | removing barriers to cycling
  • Pleasant Cycling | Playstreets

Ordinary Members may be sought to ensure all geographical regions of Highland are represented or increase our diversity.  

The committee is able to co-opt other positions as needed during the year.  

Notice of AGM

Formal notice that this years AGM will take place on Thursday 7th May 2024 at 7pm. All members are welcome to attend.

In accordance with our constitution, which requires 21 days notice, here is formal notice that the 2024 AGM of the Highland Cycle Campaign will takeplace on Thursday 7th May at 7pm at the Spectrum Centre in Inverness. A remote option will be available for those unable to attend in person (please contact us to get the link).

Next Steps for the Avoch – Munlochy Active Travel Link

Reported by Anne Thomas

Anyone who has tried or thought about cycling from Avoch to Munlochy, on the Black Isle, is very aware that it is currently not a pleasant experience with impatient drivers on a straight, narrow 60mph road. 

The A832 between Munlochy and Avoch is a vital link to connect these communities, but it is inhospitable to cyclists and pedestrians. (Map from OpenStreetMap)

Background

Work has been going on for some time to create a safe and attractive route for walking, wheeling and cycling between Avoch and Munlochy. This would offer local residents non-car options for everyday journeys such as for commuting and leisure, as well as improving options for visitors to the Black Isle. It would also connect to the popular link along the old railway line between Avoch and Fortrose, and to Sustrans’ National Cycle Route 1 from Munlochy to Allangrange and onwards to Inverness.

Transition Black Isle (TBI) have led on this project for a number of years, starting with an AECOM feasibility study in 2014. More recently we were supported by funding from walking and cycling charity Sustrans which funded the company Pell Frischman over a couple of years. In June 2023 the project had reached a stage of fairly detailed design following a well supported Community Consultation.

The A832 near Avoch
The A832 near to Avoch

Next Steps

For the next stage The Highland Council agreed to lead on the project going forward, subject to securing the necessary funding from Sustrans, to work with landowners and with TBI to seek a negotiated solution to deliver the route without the originally-planned stretch between Munlochy and Drumderfit, which was a disappointment, but TBI is hoping to return to tackling this stretch in the future. Funding for the design and construction of active travel projects is changing at the moment

In community engagement sessions over the last year for Opportunity Black Isle (the Black Isle Local Place Plan, now in draft form), access to goods, services, and leisure activities came up over and again as a key theme, including public transport, community transport, and walking, wheeling and cycling. There is some concern that those without a car, including the elderly and the young, and those with certain disabilities, are at risk of isolation. Many householders are feeling the pinch and would like to reduce their car use wherever possible. A shift away from the private car, where possible, also fits with Council and Scottish Government targets for carbon reduction to combat climate breakdown: transport is the biggest single source of Scotland’s carbon emissions, and those emissions haven’t fallen for a decade. 

Rural routes are always challenging being longer and with less potential users, but some are at last being built, so we take encouragement from those such as the Peffery Way project which have experienced and overcome similar hurdles to us.  

On the right the line of the old Railway can be seen atop the embankment, on the left is the A832 near Munlochy

Anne Thomas, Transition Black Isle Trustee and Chair of Avoch to Munlochy Working Group anne.katherine.thomas@gmail.com

Highland Council Active Travel contact Lizbeth Collie activetravel@highland.gov.uk

Find out about Transition Black Isle here

Find out more about Opportunity Black Isle here

Beauly – Inverness route – Dunballoch to Brockie’s Corner section

Reported by Ged Church, with photos from Graeme Turner

The creation of a safe cycling/walking route between Inverness and Beauly has been a goal of HCC since its inception in 1996 . Yes that’s 28 years ago now! Since 2000 this project has been supported and taken forward by the local Community Trust now known as Aird Community Trust ( ACT ) The first major section was completed by 2003, i.e. the Inchmore to Easter Moniack path, creating a traffic free link between Inchmore and the Cabrich and Reelig minor roads. The finance for that section was raised by a Community Trust paths group supported by Highland Council. We had to wait until 2016 for the next section – Lovat Bridge to Dunballoch to be completed. This was provided by the Council who obtained specific Active Travel funding from central government.

Shared use path at dunballoch.  There is a bike propped agaist the crossing posts and a sign showing shared use.

Now, at last, the section from Dunballoch to the Kiltarlity road junction ( Brockie’s corner ) has been provided, being completed just before Christmas 2023. In between these successes have been many disappointments. When a roadside path is desired there are three main obstacles to overcome. The first is “ Is it possible or are there infra structure difficulties? “. The second is “ Is there finance available? ” . Thirdly “ Who owns the land and are they willing to enter into an agreement for a path?” This last section was initially held up by landowner difficulties. Then, when these were resolved, the finance was no longer available. However Highland Council took ownership of the project and obtained Central Govt. Active Travel funding to complete the latest section last year. 

Image shows a bike lent against a sign at the entrance to the new shared use path near brockies corner.

Many of you will have noticed that the East end of this section joins the A862 main road. This is unsatisfactory as it requires East bound cyclists to cross the road and cycle for 100m to the Cabrich road junction where they must then turn right onto the quiet Cabrich road. There is a design to allow for a crossing of the Kiltarlity road and a link on the south side to the Cabrich road and thus continue to Inchmore without having to cross the A862, but this part has been held up due to lack of landowner consent. We believe that Highland Council are working hard to resolve this situation. Meanwhile ACT members and local councillors are working to make sure this remains a high priority. We wish them success and thank the local councillors for their support for this much desired community link.