In Support of Academy Street Proposals

The Highland Cycle Campaign today wrote to the Highland Council in support of the Academy Street Proposals. Here is our letter:

We wish to write in support of the current proposals to redevelop Academy Street in Inverness and
reduce traffic levels through this important part of the city centre.

While we are disappointed there has been no segregated or protected cycle lanes incorporated into the
designs, we understand that there needs to be a balance struck, particularly in terms of allowing access
for public transport, business deliveries and emergency vehicles. We note that private vehicles will still be
allowed access to Academy Street, as well as Union Street and Queensgate, to access businesses in the
area, though with a bus lane to reduce the number of “non-stop” vehicles passing through.

We feel that the current proposals are a significant improvement on the status quo, and more beneficial
to the city centre than a simple “facelift” – in terms of improving what has been identified as one of the
most polluted streets in Scotland and making it part of a wider city centre area that people can spend
time in.

Reducing traffic levels by cutting out through traffic, while slowing traffic down through increased
provision of pedestrian crossings and other measures, will make Academy Street a more accessible place
for those travelling by bicycle, as well as those walking and wheeling.
We expect in the medium to longer term to see a reduction in traffic levels even in the surrounding areas,
based on evidence from Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) and similar schemes elsewhere in the UK.
These suggest that the longer a scheme is in place, the bigger the impact it can have on people choosing
to travel by alternative (sustainable) means. Clearly this change will not happen overnight, but we believe
this type of scheme can help to reduce the need for shorter car journeys in and around the city –
something that is essential as Inverness continues to expand.

During the consultation, HCC committee member Brian MacKenzie had two proposals accepting: 1)
locating cycle parking (Sheffield stands) in various useful places, at street level rather than on the
footway; 2) leaving a permanently clear two-metre corridor along the building line (clear of advertising
boards, café furniture etc) to aid accessibility for pedestrians including mobility/sight impaired users.
We welcome these plans and look forward to seeing them progress to the next stage.

John Davidson
Convener, Highland Cycle Campaign

Academy Street Stakeholder Breakfast

Artists Impression of Academy Street Plans

Thur 20th July 2023

HCC were invited to join a stakeholder breakfast this morning to hear about the latest plans for Academy Street, Inverness.

The event started with a short video along with presentations of the plans and the councils approach:

After the presentations there was some round table discussion from the stakeholders with feedback on the designs sought.

Where can I see the Plans?

” New visuals of the proposed design for Academy Street as well as a video about the project can be accessed at Common Place/Academy Street and Highland Council/AcademyStreet where comprehensive questions and answers about the proposal can also be viewed.”

How can I feedback?

You can feed back via the Common Place Portal or by emailing

You may also copy your councillors in to your email

We’d also love to hear from you in the comments below, or email.

What’s The Timeline?

To progress to the next stage the project needs;

a) approval at the Inverness Area Committee on the 28th August,

b) and to be approved by Sustrans who are funding the project.

As yet there is no date for when the work will start.

Making Connections

If you are an organisation that would like to receive news and updates from the Highland Cycle Campaign you can now subscribe to our communications

Membership of the Highland Cycle Campaign is only open to individuals but we recognise that there are many active local groups in the Highlands that we’d love to keep in touch with, and who would like to keep in touch with us.

We invite you to subscribe to our communications.

North Kessock A9 Underpass

The underpass under the A9 at the North Kessock Junction was not built with cyclists in mind. 40 years ago when this section of the A9 was built the main concern was that livestock would be able to cross the road safely.

The North Kessock Junction on OpenStreetMap, with the underpass shown (blue dotted line).

The North Kessock underpass was originally built in two parallel parts; a footpath and a cattle creep. There haven’t been cattle needing to use it for a number of years, but a small muddy patch prevented the cattle creep being repurposed  for cycles.  It also had a large hump on the south side and a very tight turn and narrow route beside some steps on North side. 

The underpass is a key crossing point on the A9 for National Cycle Route 1. It is heavily used and the underpass was a significant pinch point with cyclists and pedestrians having to use the same narrow walkway, and regularly having near misses on a blind corner. 

10 Years in the Making

The project to improve bike access was first raised in 2013 during a joint site visit by bike with Highland Cycle Campaign, Transition Black Isle, The Highland Council, BEAR Scotland and Transport Scotland reps. We cycled alongside the A9 from the underpass to the Raigmore interchange identifying and noting 13 items of concern along the way and we highlighted them on a map. BEAR Scotland wrote a report; some other items have now also been addressed. The cycle site visit was organised after a rather grumpy lot of cyclists attended a public meeting about the works on the Kessock Bridge and were offered a meeting.

The Highland Council rep said that they were responsible for infrastructure which went over or under a trunk road but had no money to progress improvements. It was raised regularly with them particularly by Anne Thomas and eventually in late 2021 they applied to Sustrans and a grant of £20000 was awarded. This was transferred to the Community Council for project management. A site meeting with the residents association (RANK), Knockbain Community Council and Highland Council discussed how to proceed. Knockbain Community Council agreed to project manage and employed a local contractor. 

Fit for Cycling

It is now much improved;

  • with a concrete section replacing the muddy patch on the North side
  • New concrete approach on the south side
  • Wider turning areas at either end of the tunnel,
  • A wider turning area at the top of the North side entry slope
  • The ‘hump’ has also been taken out and concreted over.
  • The broken barbed wire fence between the beginning of the paths has been replaced with a nice (not spiky) new fence.
  • Art work adorns the tunnel
North side of the underpass; Before, a muddy hole (left) and After, smoothed out and widened (right)
The south side of the North Kessock underpass, with improved surface and a new, non-barbed, fence.

It was hoped that there was enough money left that the old A9 could be dug down to, leading to an additional route across a desire-line path to the ‘Walkers Car Park’ and new houses. Unfortunately this could not be found so a new shared use path was created. Unfortunately the landowner refused to have this taken round the corner to finish opposite the car park entrance, so it finished next to the road underpass on a blind corner, which was not ideal. A wooden chicane was therefore erected as the Community Council considered it dangerous otherwise, which was very frustrating to cyclists involved. The surface is also rather gravelly despite assurances that it would be suitable for cyclists but is being used by walkers, though some are still using the desire-line path diagonally across, but this land is in the process of being sold, so this may not be an option in future. 

The underpass has attracted a lot of unsightly graffiti over the years. Marc, a local artist has completed 3 panels of a mural as a volunteer and it is hoped that further funding will be found to enable him to complete it with local young people helping with the project so that they have a sense of pride in it and are less likely to spoil it. The Residents Association (RANK) did apply to MFR cash for Kids but were told their structure was not eligible as it is a Community Company Ltd. Their literature says that Community Interest Companies cannot apply, but this is not the same structure. The Community Council is therefore applying to this funding source in the latest funding round and another fund.  

Murals from a local artist

RANK is hoping to do some community planting create an edible border along the path and has started planting some fruit bushes. It has already planted two community orchards in other parts of the village and one of the members has turned the roundabout into a wildflower meadow complete with cowslips, primroses and orchids. Poppies have sprung up on another part of the disturbed ground and are putting on a good show at the moment.

More Images

Let us know what you think!

Have you used the underpass since it’s upgrade? what did you think? let us know.

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting 2023

7pm Thursday 27th April 2023Spectrum Centre, Inverness & via online video conference

These minutes are also available to download as a PDF.

Present: John Davidson (Chair), Ian Brown*, Ged Church, Susan Guest, Brian MacKenzie,  Kate MacLachlan*, Sara Ramsay*, Ron Stewart*, Anne Thomas, Ann Marie Wakeling* Emily Williams.  *online participation

Apologies:  Sarah Bowyer, Kristina High, Vivienne Hutchings, Roger Humphreys, James Alexander, Chris Ballance.

1. Approval of Minutes from Previous AGM

Proposed by Anne Thomas and seconded by Brian MacKenzie. 

The Minutes of the 2022 Annual General Meeting of the Highland Cycle Campaign were approved.  

2. Accounts & Treasurers Report

Anne Thomas reported that Duncan Tullis had stepped back from the role of treasurer during the year and she had taken over as acting treasurer. 

HCC Accounts for the year ending 31st December 2022 were circulated.  

The only costs incurred were from subscription to Transform and web hosting.  Income mainly came from membership donations. 

It was proposed that cycle campaign groups within the highlands be invited to apply for small grants towards projects on the ground.  It was agreed that this be taken forward.

3. Convener’s Report and Future Purpose and Direction of HCC

John Davidson reported about the activities that the HCC has been involved in over the past year, and discussions about the future direction of the organisation. 

🔗 Conveners Report 2023

4. Description of roles and request for additional committee members

Calls were made for the members to fulfil the following positions.  3 positions are mandated in the HCC constitution. Additional positions may be created to fulfil the needs of the organisation. 

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: committee members without remit.  Maybe sought to ensure all geographical regions of Highland are represented. The committee is able to co-opt other positions as needed during the year. 

5. Appointment of Committee, including Convener, Treasurer & Secretary.

The following members were appointed to the committee: 

  • John Davidson
  • Anne Thomas
  • Susan Guest
  • Brian Mackenzie 
  • Sarah Bowyer
  • Vivienne Hutchings
  • Duncan Tullis
  • Kristina High

6. Presentations 

The meeting heard from the following speakers:

Ian Brown – Skye Projects

Ian gave a great update on the many projects that are happening on the Isle of Skye. This includes: 

Skye Cycle Network – the development of a network to utilise the old roads to relink communities on Skye & the role of the Community Companies, using money from renewables towards projects.  Including: 

Emily Williams  – Inverness Bicycling Mayor & Kidical Mass

The ‘Bicycling Mayor’ scheme is run through BYCS, an international organisation based in Amsterdam.  BYCS manages and coordinate the Bicycle Mayor Network, a global community of advocates and activists pushing forward their local cycling agendas. 

Emily explained how she applied for the role and some of the benefits it has brought in terms of peer networking and support.  She is already finding that the council and politicians are more receptive to listening to her. Emily would love to see more Bicycle Mayors in the Highlands and is happy to chat with anyone who is interested in standing in their area.

You can read Emily’s manifesto here:

Anne Thomas – North Kessock Underpass and Avoch to Munlochy Path 

Anne provided an update on the work that has happened on the North Kessock A9 underpass including some before and after photos of the project.  This stretch of the A9 has also recently had an improved pedestrian crossing by the Kessock Bridge and there is tentative talk of improvements to the cycle infrastructure close to the bridge.  

There was an update on the Avoch to Munlochy path. 

Scaniport Road Resurfaced

The popular cycle route along the Scaniport road between Inverness and Dores has had some resurfacing work done.

new road surface on the Scaniport Road.

The road had deteriorated very badly in recent years, making it more suited to mountain and gravel bikes than road bikes. Forming part of NCN78 the road offers a quiet alternative to the main road to Dores. The section past Kinchyle Farm in particular had was mostly pot-hole and mud.

A further section at the bottom of McBains Hill has also been resurfaced.

Write to Them!

Letter Writing

If you’d like to see better cycling infrastructure in the Highlands one of your most powerful tools is contacting your elected representatives. The more positive letters they receive about active travel the better. Here’s how to get started.

Who to Contact?

Most roads, paths and cycleways in the Highlands are the responsibility of The Highland Council. You can write to your local councillors about these. Changes are likely to come to committees – you can also write to the members of the committee and the chair.

The exception to this is trunk roads (eg the A9); these are the authority of the Scottish Government. You can contact your MSPs about these.

Finding your councillors

You have 3 or 4 councillors depending on which ward you live in. Try and contact all your representatives but especially those likely to hold or sway the balance of power.

Use the Highland Councils ‘Find your Councillor‘ tool to find your councillors using your postcode. Alternatively if you know your ward you can look up your councillors by ward. You can email them, or post them a letter.

Many councillors are also on social media – you can contact them there too.

Finding your MSPs

You have 8 MSPs representing you; one constituency MSP who represents your local area and 7 regional MSPs who represent your larger area.  You can contact either type of MSP about any issue dealt with by the Scottish Parliament.

Find your MSPs on the Scottish Parliament Website

What to Say…

As an individual writing to your local representative you don’t need to provide detailed analysis of all the angles – it’s fine to be yourself and add your own voice. The important thing is to contact them, not to be perfect.

  • Try to stick to one or just a few issues
  • Say what the problem (or good thing) is
  • How is this effecting you
  • what would you like them to do about it
  • If you like you can provide background about the issue or link it to their party policy.

This guide to Communicating with your councillors from CyclingUK has some more great tips.

Have your say on the Case for Change | Highlands Local Transport Strategy

Have your say! – Consultation closes 29th May 2023

“The Highland Council is updating its Local Transport Strategy, which sets out how it will manage and modernise the transport network across the region for the coming years. The Case for Change is the first stage in this process and is about gathering evidence; we have prepared a Case for Change Report and would like to hear your views on it.”

Highland Council

The Highland Council is consulting on the ‘Case for Change‘ which proposes an update to the Local Transport Strategy. The Case for Change report is the first stage in the process of preparing the next Local Transport Strategy for Highland.

A consultation on this 100+ page draft is ongoing and you can respond as an individual.

The Consultation asks for a response to each of the sections in the “Key Findings and Draft Objectives” of the report, from the summary section of the document. You’ll be asked how much you agree/disagree along with space for further comments.

Let us Know your Thoughts

HCC would also love to know your thoughts; you can let us know in the comments below, via email or on the socials.

A screen shot from the Case for Change survey.

Read: Local Transport Strategy Case for Change
Respond: LTS Case for Change Consultation

Conveners Report to the 2023 AGM

from John Davidson HCC Convener

This year has been another busy year for the committee members. We have continued to respond to proposals particularly in the Inverness area, as well as offering support for projects further afield.

In Inverness, plans for Academy Street have caused some continuing discussion. It’s important for us to let our councillors know our feelings on that one – their inboxes being filled with positive emails about changes to the street made a difference in moving the project onto the next stage.

I plan to offer a letter of support to the proposals as a “fair compromise” to give essential access for businesses and improving safety and making the city centre generally a nicer place to spend time and money.

We have also offered a letter of support to a project to create a safe cycling link between Garve and Contin, avoiding the busy A835.

Highland Cycle Campaign has also signed up – for free – to the Cycle Advocacy Network, run by Cycling UK. There is a link on the website to lots of resources for campaigning.

As a committee, we have also been discussing the future direction of Highland Cycle Campaign. It’s fair to say we have struggled for time to do everything we would like, but thankfully there are many other people within the community who are also pushing for improvements – including Critical Mass, Kidical Mass and Velocity.

We see our future role as being to support and promote these wider community efforts. The history of the HCC gives it a value when it comes to speaking on behalf of cyclists across the region, and we can add our voice to help grassroots community projects whether in Inverness, Skye, Garve, Thurso or elsewhere.

We also have a pot of money in the bank. We have started to discuss the idea of offering small grants for projects to help those doing work “on the ground”.

As an addendum, I have also been made aware that the local access forum – which met for the first time since 2019 recently – is looking for a cycling representative.

Social distancing: now is the time for better infrastructure

There has never been a more important time to provide a safe city for all to get around, including those with disabilities.

The Highland Council has made some great initial suggestions for changes to Inverness roads and pavements to allow for safer walking, wheeling and cycling in the context of the Covid pandemic (click here to see proposals). We encourage the Council to enact these suggestions rapidly.

We believe that there are some additional vital changes to allow everyone to use roads more safely across the city. Help us by signing our petition by clicking here.

We are calling for the Highland Council to take the following actions:

– adopt a city-wide approach of “pavements free for pedestrians and wheelchair users, cyclists protected on the road”

– keep all pavements and cycle lanes clear of parked cars

– pedestrianise more central areas of Inverness

– establish a 20mph speed limit across the city

– implement and enforce exclusion zones to reduce cars near schools 

– reset traffic lights to prioritise pedestrians, wheelchair users and cyclists over cars

– segregate rather than paint cycleways

– allow clearly signed contraflow two-way cycling on one-way streets

– include schools and other key workplaces in the network (eg Royal Mail depot)

– establish continuous flow of safe cycle routes (eg review Raigmore/Culcabock area)

– develop a North – South axis similar to the East West route proposed

– develop safe cycle commuter approaches to the city from neighbouring areas

– introduce lower speeds on local commuter rural roads

– establish a public transport infrastructure that provides increased capacity for cycle carriage

– create Park and Ride/Cycle facilities on major commuter routes.

Making walking, wheeling and cycling a priority would demonstrate Highland Council’s commitment to their declaration of the Climate Change Emergency and will have profound positive effects on physical and mental well-being of our Highland Community.