South of Scotland progress to become world leading cycling destination celebrated

The South of Scotland’s aim of becoming one of the leading cycling destinations in the world is on track, following a hugely successful first year of the Cycling Partnership Strategy.

The 10-year plan was launched 12 months ago, and a review of the last year has highlighted a significant number of achievements by partners behind the Strategy, most notably the hosting of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships.

Looking ahead, the South of Scotland Cycling Partnership – made up of local and national organisations representing thousands of people across the region – is now looking to capitalise on the recent UCI Bike Region Label title to create further economic, social and environmental benefits for local people.

The group celebrated its achievements today (Thursday 31 August) with Culture Minister Angus Robertson in Selkirk.

Mr Robertson also visited Galashiels-based social enterprise Hike and Bike Hub, who have been nominated for two awards for their efforts to encourage local people to cycle and walk more through the promotion of active travel and healthy leisure activities.

This has included providing free bike hires thanks to Scottish Borders Council’s Community Cycling Fund, which aims to create a legacy from the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships.

Since the launch of the Strategy at the Convention of the South of Scotland meeting in Hawick in September 2022, the partnership group has helped take forward a series of projects:

  • The Scottish Borders hosted the Mountain Bike Cross-country and Mountain Bike Cross-country marathon events for the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, while Dumfries & Galloway hosted the Para-cycling. Both were predicted to boost the South’s economy by £1million and attract 10,000 visitors.
  • The first region in Scotland to achieve the UCI Bike Region Label, which recognises the commitment to both elite cycling competition and cycling for all.
  • The digital launch of the Kirkpatrick C2C, South of Scotland’s Coast to Coast cycle route which offers 250 miles of uninterrupted joy for experienced cyclists from Stranraer to Eyemouth.
  • Development and opening of a number of active travel paths, including the opening of the Eddleston Water Path in the Borders and the development of works to create a path between Penpont and Thornhill in Nithsdale area.
  • Investment and support from various partners in the Destination Tweed project – a new long-distance trail running along the length of the River Tweed from Moffat to Berwick-Upon-Tweed. The Destination Tweed project is developing a business case to secure funding through the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal and is being led by the Tweed Forum.
  • Planning permission secured to renovate Caerlee Mill in Innerleithen to be the home of the new Mountain Bike Innovation Centre. The Centre is a key development for the South of Scotland and – subject to approval of the Full Business Case – will be funded as part of the Borderlands Inclusive Growth Deal.
  • Hosting of a series of UCI events during the year at Galloway Forest, Glentress, Hawick, Kirroughtree and Ae, as well the Tour of Britain in 2022.
  • Dalbeattie Rocks and Wheels successfully secured £6m from the UK Levelling up fund to now progress a new bunkhouse, pump track and climbing wall.
  • Forestry and Land Scotland providing 14 kilometres of new multi-user and mountain bike trails in a landmark £6m investment at Glentress. This investment is enabling Forest Holidays to progress the construction of 57 eco-sensitive cabins which aim to bring an additional 20,000 visitors a year to the Tweed Valley from winter 2024 onwards.
  • Scottish Cycling, in partnership with both local councils, have committed funding and support for new cycling development officers for both the Scottish Borders and Dumfries & Galloway. Scottish Cycling also brought a series of cycling programmes to the South ahead of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships.

Culture Minister Angus Robertson said:

“The award of UCI Bike Region Label status is a prestigious accolade for the South of Scotland to attain. It has been awarded because of the region’s work to promote cycling in the community and invest in infrastructure.

“The successful development and implementation of the South of Scotland Cycling Partnership Strategy has played a key role achieving the label and is a great example of what partnership working can produce.

“I look forward to seeing the positive impact this will have in helping Scotland become a leading cycling destination following the success of the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships.“

Councillor Ian Blake, Chair of Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Communities Committee, said:

“The South of Scotland Cycling Partnership is something we’re very proud to be part of here in Dumfries and Galloway. Cycling is a big part of our pull to visitors and we’ve a vast array of cycling options, from gravel and mountain biking to coastal road.

“We look forward to playing our part in developing this strategy in the future.”

Councillor Jackie McCamon, Vice Chair of the Communities Committee, added:

“Only a couple of weeks ago, the world got to see exactly what the South of Scotland has to offer in terms of our cycling offer via the UCI World Championship events.

“We want to build on this recent exposure and see the strategy as a key element in assisting us with this development.”

Councillor Euan Jardine, Leader of Scottish Borders Council, said:

“Looking back over the past 12 months since the first regional Cycling Partnership Strategy was launched gives me confidence that by continuing to work together we really can achieve our ambitious aims for cycling here in the South.

“An amazing amount has been achieved, but it is now crucial that we build upon those efforts and investments.

“We need to engage and enthuse our communities and residents to help us realise the power of the bike and what it and our unique history of the bike can bring to the region.”

Paula Ward of South of Scotland Enterprise added:

“The South of Scotland Cycling Partnership has a collective goal to make the South one of the world’s leading cycling destinations and we are well on course to achieving this after a phenomenal year.

“It is incredible what has been achieved and that is purely down to the fantastic partnership approach we have in the South, which was crucial to our successful UCI Bike Region Label bid.

“We want to now use this Label to take the next phase of our strategy forward and make sure we embed cycling into the lives of people in the South.”

David Hope-Jones OBE, Chief Executive of the South of Scotland Destination Alliance, said:

“I think it is no understatement to say 2023 has been the year cycling truly ‘came home’ to the South of Scotland.

“Not only are we paying homage to the inventor of the velocipede, Kirkpatrick Macmillan, through the astonishing new 250-mile coast to coast route linking Stranraer with Eyemouth, we also welcomed the world – in person and on screen – for some of the most adrenaline-pumping events in the first ever UCI Cycling World Championships, at Glentress Forest and in Dumfries.

“Landing the coveted Bike Region Label on top of that was absolutely brilliant, the icing on the cake and richly deserved.

“Now, our shared objective with our partners is to harness the growing popularity of cycle tourism in our short and longer term planning, making sure we bring communities and businesses along on the journey ahead so that everyone benefits and feels part of it.”

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