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Sustrans Scotland and NFU Scotland issue safety plea for rural roads, including on National Cycle Network routes


By John Davidson

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The National Cycle Network uses quiet roads especially in rural areas such as this section of Route 1 on the Black Isle.
The National Cycle Network uses quiet roads especially in rural areas such as this section of Route 1 on the Black Isle.

A leading cycling charity has teamed up with farmers to urge rural road users of all types to keep safe this summer.

With Covid-19 restrictions bringing a surge in the numbers of people walking and cycling in the countryside, NFU Scotland and Sustrans Scotland are calling for consideration to be shown between all users of rural roads.

Large stretches of the National Cycle Network, which is coordinated by Sustrans Scotland, use quiet rural roads, particularly across the Highlands and Islands and Moray, while other rural roads are locally popular with cyclists.

It is expected to be a particularly busy summer with the continuing restrictions on travel and an increase in the number of people cycling and walking on country roads.

Tom Bishop, head of network development at Sustrans Scotland, said: “With longer and warmer days, the summer months always encourage a spike in people exploring walking and cycling routes including the National Cycle Network by foot and bike.

“As lockdown restrictions are eased, we anticipate this year to be just as busy with people exploring some of Scotland’s most spectacular landscapes.

“With many rural sections of the network incorporating stretches along minor roads, it is crucial that consideration is shown by everyone along the roads, whether they choose to walk, cycle, wheel or drive.

“We urge all those exploring the outstanding beauty along these routes to maximise their enjoyment by remaining aware and considerate towards all fellow travellers.”

NFU Scotland warned that the summer is a critical and busy time for farmers, and called for all road users to look out for each other.

Tom French, chairman of NFU Scotland’s legal and technical committee, said: “The volume of large agricultural traffic is heavier on rural roads at this time of year with silage-making, meaning that that the public are more likely to come into contact with it.

“We would urge other road users, including more vulnerable users such as walkers, cyclists and horse riders, to be aware of the presence of agricultural traffic on rural roads.

Tom French, NFU Scotland.
Tom French, NFU Scotland.

“It is equally important that drivers of these agricultural vehicles are aware of other road users and take due care around them. I would urge any agricultural drivers to slow down and leave plenty of space for other road users.

“The important message to get through is that care and common courtesy from all road users will make our country roads safer for everyone."


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