Last week saw our first ever National Cycle Network (NCN) Community Tour take place, as part of the 20th anniversary celebrations of the Network. Four riders cycled over 460 miles around Scotland, working with a range of partner groups to host events from Edinburgh all the way up to Inverness.
Graham, Amparo and Ray from the Stirling Cycle Hub, along with their former colleague and professional photographer, Iona Shepherd, rode the full route, and were joined by communities and volunteers across Scotland as part of the celebrations.
Setting off from Stirling after a hearty bike breakfast, a group of around 15 cyclists accompanied the tour team to the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel. The four cyclists then carried on to Glasgow for a break at Siempre Bicycle Café, followed by a ride with the Glasgow Belles on Bikes to celebrate with GO Neilston!, a project aiming to encourage Active Travel and support walking and cycling in the local area.
There were further stops in Inverary, where local children joined in with a bikeability skills session, Fort William and then Inverness, where riders from Velocity Café met up with the group to accompany them to the end of National Cycle Route 78.
The Tour then headed south, ticking off Inverness to Pitlochry via Kingussie in a day along Route 7 of the NCN, before the final push through Inverkeithing into Edinburgh, where they were met by Sustrans volunteers, staff and supporters on the Forth Road Bridge, before the last 10 miles to the Sustrans office, and the finish line.
Graham McQueen, Cycle Hub Co-ordinator, said:
“We saw some stunning scenery, rode on some great cycle paths and quiet roads, hooked up with some fantastic projects and met some wonderful, friendly people.
“For me the highlights were seeing how the National Cycle Network is developing, how the hard work from Sustrans is paying off with an ever increasing network of cycle routes (still work to be done but definitely pedalling in the right direction) and meeting with the wonderful projects and organisations around the country who, like us, encourage people into the saddle!”
Commenting John Lauder, National Director of Sustrans Scotland, said:
“We were delighted to work with Stirling Cycle Hub, Recyke-a-bike and, most importantly, communities across Scotland on the tour.
“It’s great that so many communities across Scotland are out enjoying the National Cycle Network on its twentieth birthday. With the number of journeys on the network growing year on year, it’s clear that providing safe, attractive walking and cycling routes is a crucial way to give people the confidence they need to leave their car at home and walk and cycle more.
“The National Cycle Network is such a phenomenal asset for Scotland. As the network continues to grow in the years ahead, so will the benefits. Not only does it provide important community links which encourage everyday journeys to be made sustainably, it’s a huge economic asset too. It generates millions of pounds from leisure and tourism, while delivering huge health benefits”.