South of Scotland’s aim to be a world-leading cycling destination is on track

Friday September 1st 2023

Angus Robertson with George and Angela Crow of the Hike and Bike Hub in Galashiels

Angus Robertson with George and Angela Crow of the Hike and Bike Hub in Galashiels.

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Paul Kelly

The South of Scotland’s aim of becoming one of the leading cycling destinations in the world is on track and on schedule.

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

Looking ahead, the Partnership – made up of local and national organisations representing thousands of people across the region – is now looking to capitalise on the recent award of a UCI Bike Region Label title, which recognises the commitment to both elite cycling competition and cycling for all.

Partnership members celebrated the achievements on Thursday, August 31st, with Scottish Government Culture Minister Angus Robertson in Selkirk.

Mr Robertson also visited Galashiels-based social enterprise Hike and Bike Hub, which has 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.

Most notably 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 £1 million and attract 10,000 visitors.

There has also been the development and opening of a number of active travel paths, including the Eddleston Water Path in the Borders.

Meanwhile, planning permission has been secured to renovate Caerlee Mill in Innerleithen, home to the new £19m 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.

Mr 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 Euan Jardine, the 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.

“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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