Communities pedal support for active travel links in Abington, Douglas, Leadhills and Wanlockhead
An ambitious proposal to improve active travel infrastructure in and around Abington, Douglas, Leadhills and Wanlockhead has received broad support from residents, community groups and businesses via a public consultation.
The ‘Make Your Way - Key Links’ project will provide a network of easily navigated routes between Abington and Abington Services, Douglas and the National Cycle Network 74, and Leadhills and Wanlockhead, linking key community facilities, making it an easy and safe choice to walk, cycle or wheel to access the village centres for education, employment, transport or other everyday uses.
The project is funded by Sustrans’ Places for Everyone programme and managed by Rural Development Trust’s Community Action Lanarkshire programme. Ironside Farrar have been appointed as project consultants.
The public consultation took place from November – December last year, and formed part of the community engagement process, alongside ongoing landowner, stakeholder and community conversations. It sought local knowledge and support in developing Feasibility Studies for each of the three routes, due to be completed this Spring.
51 respondents took part in the consultation via a digital drop-in, a digital consultation room and / or via paper surveys available in each of the communities. The findings have helped identify routes and priorities for access to and around the village centres, priority locations for traffic management and local features that could be taken into consideration as part of the works.
The top three preferred characteristics of any new and / or improved infrastructure were found to be; child / family friendly; have as few road crossings as possible; and be the shortest and most direct route.
Over 50% of respondents said that they would use the proposed new routes most days or weekly, if they were to be constructed.
Feedback on existing barriers to walking, cycling and wheeling, confirmed safety concerns on existing on-road options between Abington – Abington Services, Douglas – NCN74 and Leadhills – Wanlockhead, which are currently only realistically suitable for vehicular traffic.
Make Your Way - Key Links connects to both local and national priorities for more active travel provision and targets towards a greener and more sustainable future, with enhanced access to local employment, education and healthcare opportunities, as well as reducing emissions and increased health and wellbeing opportunities.
Claudia Beamish, Scottish Labour and Co-operative candidate for Clydesdale says, “These incredible new active travel routes will help to link up towns and hamlets across Clydesdale and neighbouring areas. People in rural areas have been badly affected by the Covid crisis and as we move into recovery, these routes will provide opportunities for residents to improve their fitness and mental wellbeing.”
She continues, “We need affordable green alternatives to cars so that we safeguard our environment and build that better, greener world. I’m also delighted the public consultation has taken place and that the community has overwhelmingly supported this project.”
The infrastructure opportunities were identified through public consultations as part of a number of Sustainable Travel Action Plans and Make Your Way active travel mapping initiatives in 2019, under the Community Action Lanarkshire programme, which identified the existing routes as currently only realistically suitable for vehicular traffic.
Sarah O’Sullivan, Community Action Lanarkshire Project Officer says, “The public consultation has given the project team a robust evidence base of what the real local needs and requirements are for the potential new infrastructure. It forms an important part of the consultation process which includes landowners, community representatives and stakeholders.”
She continues, “As the project develops further over the next few months, the team are looking to connect with as many interested local groups, organisations and individuals as possible. We’d be delighted to hear from anyone who hasn’t yet had direct contact from us.”
Sustrans’ Places for Everyone programme is funded by the Scottish Government and aims to make places safer, healthier and more attractive through increasing and improving every day active travel journeys.
It is anticipated that this initial grant will lead to the Rural Development Trust securing a future funding award from Places for Everyone to create detailed designs and ultimately install the new infrastructure over the next few years.
Infrastructure Coordinator for Sustrans Tim Aeberli says, “The consultation shows the desire to be able to make journeys between the local communities by foot, by wheel or by bike instead of having to rely on motorised transport. We are looking forward to seeing what ideas the communities have to help take these forward.”