The first ever cycling partnership strategy for the South of Scotland will aim to ensure the region becomes Scotland’s leading cycling destination.
The strategy aims to embed cycling in people’s lives in the south, and ensure it becomes the most popular choice for shorter, everyday journeys by 2032.
The document has been created by the South of Scotland Cycling Partnership – made up of a range of local and national partners who represent thousands of local people – and will capitalise on the arrival of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in Glasgow and across Scotland, with the South hosting three of the 13 championships.
The strategy has a 10-year timeframe and covers all aspects of cycling in Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders, which sit under six themes:
· Sport, recreation and wellbeing
· Sustainable economy and communities
· Innovation and technology
· Destination development and promotion
The delivery plan has three distinct timeframes, with immediate opportunities presented by the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, which is expected to attract one million spectators and more than one billion viewers worldwide, making it one of the top 10 global sporting events.
Medium term, the strategy aims to see improvements in cycling infrastructure and successful implementation of a range of projects.
Over the long term, the partnership will look to deliver on the region’s Net Zero commitments and make cycling an inclusive and accessible transport option for everyone living, working and visiting the region.
The strategy will also aim to help strengthen the offering for visitors to the South of Scotland, with cycling presenting a significant opportunity to build on the natural capital of the region.
The South of Scotland Cycling Partnership Strategy is endorsed by Convention of the South of Scotland (COSS) in Hawick, and was endorsed by Dumfries and Galloway and Scottish Borders councils last month. The strategy is available to read .
Lasting effect in the region
Attending the launch, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “The 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships coming to Scotland next year give us a real opportunity to further develop cycling in Scotland, whether that be through increased participation in active travel, sport or recreation; improved infrastructure; or support for our tourism industry. The South of Scotland Cycling Partnership Strategy is a welcome tool that will help to bring all elements of the cycling sector together and have a lasting effect for the region. The strategy will also play an important role in helping Scotland reach our climate change target of becoming Net Zero by 2045.”
Craig Burn, Director of Strategy and Policy Impacts of 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships added: “The South of Scotland has absolutely embraced the wider ambition for the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships to utilise this unique opportunity to inspire more people to ride bikes and be a catalyst for positive changes before, during and after 2023.
The launch of the South of Scotland Cycling Strategy is testament to the partners for having the foresight and vision to ensure the power of the bike is positioned as a force for good to support and address key policy priorities such as public health, transport, tourism and the economy. “I have witnessed first-hand the relentless passion, ambition and determination from local partners and community groups to create the strategy. I am confident this will delivery tangible benefits to local residents, visitors and businesses over the next decade,” said Rob Dickson, VisitScotland Director of Industry and Destination Development.
“Cycling is already a popular activity for visitors to Scotland, with more than half a million overnight UK visitors coming every year to explore our country by bike prior to the pandemic. The South of Scotland has a strong reputation for hosting cycling events and its abundance of mountain biking trails and road routes makes it an ideal destination for cycling enthusiasts. The launch of this cycling strategy will both help support development of the south’s cycling offer and help inspire many more visitors to the region, supporting the recovery of the tourism industry while promoting sustainable travel experiences to the benefit of visitors, communities and our environment. As we countdown to next year’s UCI Cycling World Championships, with the region set to host key events, there is no better time to celebrate the power of the bike and ensure it plays a greater part in strengthening the economy of the south,” said Dickson.
“Cycling can positively impact so many aspects of our society, helping address fuel poverty, transport issues, community isolation, health and wellbeing, workforce and education inclusion and diversity and equality. It can stimulate economic investments, drive demand in innovation and create skilled jobs,” said Professor Russel Griggs, Chair of South of Scotland Enterprise.
“Ultimately, if cycling can be adopted on a large scale, it can also drive change amongst communities and businesses to help us meet regional and national Net Zero commitments. That is why the South of Scotland Cycling Partnership Strategy is so important – positioning our region as the first in Scotland and the UK to take the humble bike and use it to deliver against a full range of outcomes,” he continued.
Dumfries and Galloway Council Co-Leaders, Councillor Linda Dorward and Councillor Stephen Thompson, said in a joint statement:
“The launch of this strategy today is a clear statement of intent about how seriously the South of Scotland takes cycling. We have a proud recent history of hosting world class cycling events within Dumfries and Galloway, as have our neighbours in the Scottish Borders. The South of Scotland is the perfect destination to come cycling.
“Whether it is scenic country roads for a road cycle or rocky adrenaline filled mountain biking that you are after, we have something for everyone. This strategy sets out how we will invest resources and finances to not just stand still on the cycling map, but to enhance our already sparkling reputation as one of the best places to get out on your bike.”
Home of the bike
Councillor Euan Jardine, Leader of Scottish Borders Council, added: “This new strategy, developed together by a range of partners, is hugely exciting for the South of Scotland and marks a new dawn in changing our region for the better through cycling and the power of the bike. It builds on the region’s unrivalled cycling heritage and our well-established worldwide reputation for on and off road cycling. It also capitalises on past, ongoing and future investment, from the 7stanes off-road network to the Mountain Bike Innovation Centre in the Tweed Valley.
“There truly is an opportunity to make the South of Scotland the global ‘Home of the Bike’ and exploit all the benefits that can bring for our residents, businesses and visitors, from health to the economy – this strategy is the first step in making that happen. When just over 200 years ago humble blacksmith Kirkpatrick Macmillan from Dumfriesshire went into his workshop and created the ‘velocipede’, he could not have dreamed of the incredible things the bicycle could do for the South of Scotland.”