Nov 11 2011 by Greg Christison, Perthshire Advertiser Friday
A PERTHSHIRE cycling group has voiced concerns over the loss of a vital link in the chain between themselves and the council.
ByCycle – also known as Perth and Kinross Cycle Campaign – are worried that the local authority’s axing of their sustainable transport officer (STO) will have an adverse affect on their voluntary organisation.
Speaking after their quarterly meeting, ByCycle’s secretary claimed cutting the post has broken the connection between their group and Perth and Kinross Council.
Katharine Melville said: “As far as I understand, the STO was set up to act as a liaison between the council and the cycling public and now it’s gone.
“We are concerned what effect that is going to have on us.
“ByCycle fears that the considerable improvements that have been made for cycling and walking provision around Perth and Kinross will be put on hold.
“And we have concerns that we will no longer be consulted on traffic planning matters which affect walkers and cyclists.”
The STO, whose position was abolished following budget savings announced in February, was responsible for communicating with ByCycle and running a number of initiatives to support cyclists across the region.
Notably, these included: the organisation of the summer cycle ride programme, the development of volunteer ride leaders, national bike week, the upkeep of Perth and Kinross cycling webpages, the creation of Perth cycling maps and the running of the cycling and walking co-ordination group.
Despite her concerns, Ms Melville vowed ByCycle would do their best to take over some of the duties.
She continued: “On the positive side ByCycle intends to take up the challenge of providing and possibly even extending the programme of led cycle rides set up by the STO.
“We want to encourage people to take their bikes out of the shed, and give them the confidence to explore the network of tracks and quiet roads with which Perth and Kinross is blessed.”
A Perth and Kinross Council spokesperson said: “Due to budget constraints and requirements to make savings we don’t have a budget to employ a sustainable transport officer anymore.
“The council will continue to carry out core work on cycling – developing cycle routes, signage and cycle parking, and will continue to promote sustainable transport by attending events.
“We already have a range of cycle maps, and these will be updated whenever necessary.
“We will also try to continue some of the promotions that were organised by the STO wherever possible.”
Ensuring that public policy actively supports cycling, ByCycle aims to encourage the sport and publicise its benefits for the community, individuals and the environment.
The group welcomes direct contact from the public who have concerns over cycling and walking provision and also from councillors sympathetic to sustainable transport issues.
For more information visit: www.bycycle.org.uk