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.

Riverside Way Update Event

A public meeting is due to take place on Tuesday 16 January to update the public on the progress made with the Riverside Way works in Inverness. This ambitious project aims to improve active travel provision along the popular route of Ness Walk and Bught Road for those walking, wheeling, and cycling.
The meeting, which is open to anyone to attend, will be held in the Conference Room at the Highland Rugby Club premises, Canal Park from 7pm to 9pm.

How to report Pavement Parking Problems

Pavement Parking is unsafe, unfair and illegal

From 11 December 2023, pavement parking will be an offence in Scotland?

The The Highland Council will be able to enforce this with Penalty Charge Notices. The Penalty Charge Notice will be £100 or the removal of the vehicle in contravention.

Also included in the ban are parking blocking a dropped kerb, and double parking

Report Problem Parking

Problem parking can be reported to the Highland Council via the parking portal.

You will need to be able to identify the location of the issue on a map in order to complete the form. The is also the option to submit photos of the issue.

You can also contact your local councillors about any issue – and ask them to escalate it on your behalf.

Areas with a high number of complaints will be be visited more frequently by parking enforcement.

Pavement Parking to be an offence from December 2023

Pavement parking on Huntly Street, Inverness

From the 11th December 2023 parking on pavements, blocking dropped kerbs and double parking will become an offence. The Highland Council will issue warning notices advising offenders of the change in regulations until early 2024, when fines of £100 will be issued or the vehicle may be removed.

Not just Pavement Parking…

The regulations also include other parking offences including ;

-a ban on pavement parking

-a ban on double-parking (more than 50cm from the edge of a carriageway)

-a ban on parking at dropped kerbs installed for pedestrian or cycle usage

Reporting Parking Problems

Parking problems including pavement parking, and blocking dropped kerbs can be reported to the HC parking team at parking@highland.gov.uk or tweet @HighlandParking.

News Welcomed

The news has been welcomed by active travel campaigners in Highland.