Councils must urgently change their “fragmented” approaches to cycling or risk losing out on the benefits of the Tour of Britain, a leading campaigner has said.
Aberdeen will host the final stage of the major competition this year, with entrants racing from Stonehaven to the city centre on September 13.
It will return the following year as the north-east will host the first leg of the 2021 competition.
But Colin Allanach, the chairman of Scottish Cycling Grampian and Grampian Cycle Partnership, has warned that the “piecemeal” improvements currently being made to biking infrastructure could offset any gains in the wake of the Tour of Britain.
“There was a lot of talk at the launch about ‘legacy’ and inspiring others and the local cycling community is now looking for leadership to see what that legacy is,” he said.
“Many of the local cycling clubs have thriving youth sections where British Cycling coaches are developing the next set of racers and cyclists.
“The clubs are doing their part but what we really need in the Grampian area is the infrastructure to be able to develop these youth racers further.”
Mr Allanach has pointed to a number of initiatives he feels shows the area is taking steps in the right direction.
He said a 20mph speed restriction in Aberdeenshire town centres will make cycling safer for many, while the ever-increasing number of inclusive biking events are encouraging more to take an interest.
But he said transport chiefs need to be taking a look at the region as a whole, rather than individual segments.
Mr Allanach added: “To drive the legacy of the Tour of Britain forward there needs to be leadership.
“This should include all forms of cycling and for all types of cyclists.
“The fragmented organisational structure needs to be harnessed and improved.
“Aberdeen City and Shire have a fantastic opportunity to build on these events and to promote our area for tourism, help meet our climate change commitments, and improve our health and well-being through cycling.”
A spokeswoman for the group organising the Tour Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire stage on behalf of both Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Councils said: “Both authorities are committed to ensuring that the Tour of Britain in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire leaves a cycling legacy in the area, for all ages and abilities, with an extensive additional activities programme for schools, clubs, partners and local businesses.
“All of these are being delivered by the local authorities to support ongoing promotion of cycling, and are separate to the event itself. We remain convinced that the legacy is as important as the profile raised during the event.
“In addition to the celebration of cycling, the Tour complements existing work to improve the active travel network, in partnership with Nestrans and other partners.”