Temporary signs laying out 2,000 miles of cycling routes across Aberdeenshire and Moray will be put in place this summer to encourage people to get on their bikes.
A total of 140 bike routes taking in some of the most spectacular scenery and destinations in Scotland will be available for bikers to discover in line with a new initiative by Ride the North, an annual challenge and celebration of cycling.
The Ride The North 153 project, which will run for 153 days from May 1 to September 30, is hoped to run in addition to the primary 2021 Ride the North bike ride on July 24, but has been designed to give provide an alternative in case the main event can’t go ahead as planned due to Covid.
Signs will be put up throughout the countryside, creating almost 2,000 miles of linked routes all the way from Fettercairn to Forres.
The routes will include some of the UK’s most challenging routes, including those leading to the ski centres at Glenshee and The Lecht, and more gentle bike rides along the flatter Moray coast.
Cyclists will be taken past some of the region’s famous castles and distilleries, along with visitor attractions like the Peterhead Prison Museum and Elgin Cathedral.
Neil Innes, event director of Ride the North, said he hopes the signs will help to boost business and encourage people to enjoy the exercise and fun of cycling.
He said: “The plan for signposted cycle routes is a response to reflect that, for tourism and hospitality, the crisis is ongoing and there is new enthusiasm for cycling and outdoor exercise.
“We have a wonderful area for riding a bike, with great scenery and hundreds of miles of quiet roads that are attractive for leisure cycling.
“Lots of people will holiday closer to home this year and the north-east is right up there as one of best destinations for cycling”.
The project has been made possible thanks to support from local councils and transport bodies.
Sandra Macdonald, chairwoman of the north-east regional transport board Nestrans, said: “In the past year or so, we have seen an unprecedented growth in people experiencing the great outdoors, whether through walking, cycling or as part of other activities.
“We’re pleased to help fund this initiative as an invitation for people to make use of their bikes and to safely and responsibly experience the benefits of cycling around roads in our area.
“It is important to encourage and support more people to consider cycling as part of their daily lives, both for the well-evidenced physical and mental wellbeing benefits that cycling brings, as well as the potential for reducing non-essential car journeys and the impact that those journeys have on the wider environment.”
And Paul Macari, head of planning and environment with Aberdeenshire Council, said: “This is a hugely welcome plan to bring visitors back to our town centres and to show support for local businesses that have suffered such a difficult time.
“The councils have given permission for temporary signs as part of a coordinated effort to promote more cycling in a summer when Aberdeenshire will see the area host the Tour of Britain, a prestigious professional event making its first visit to the north-east in September”.