A massive cycling event involving 800 people will bring traffic chaos to one of the north’s busiest tourist routes next month, it has been claimed.
There are now calls for the Deloitte Ride Across Britain 2014 to be cancelled because of fears that it could cause serious accidents on the A82 Glasgow-Inverness trunk road.
Businesses and local residents in Lochaber claim that the event will cause gridlock because there are few overtaking opportunities on the route, which has been the scene of several fatal accidents.
Alasdair Ferguson, who is managing director of Corpach-based Ferguson Transport, said: “This will be an absolute nightmare and potentially cause chaos on our local road network.”
He added: “I believe this is likely to have a much greater impact on travel and the logistics to and from the Highlands for West coast companies than the Commonwealth Games was to companies in Glasgow.”
Councillor Brian Murphy, Fort William and Ardnamurchan, said: “The organisers obviously have no idea of the health and safety consequences of putting 800 cyclists onto a road which struggles at any time of the year to cope with existing cycle traffic.”
Stewart Maclean, of the A82 Partnership, said his organisation was calling for the event, organised by Threshold Sports, to be cancelled or rerouted along the A9 Perth-Inverness road.
He said he could only anticipate “gridlock”, as traffic would move at the pace of the slowest rider by the time they reached Onich, with no overtaking opportunities between Onich and Fort William.
He is concerned it would result in frustration, which could lead to accidents.
The cyclists will leave Land’s End on Saturday September 6 to cycle to John O’Groats, where they are due to arrive on Sunday September 14.
They will travel up the A82 from Crianlarich to Torlundy, Fort William, on Friday September 12 and from Torlundy to Fort Augustus on Saturday September 13. They will then take the B862 to Inverness before heading north through Dingwall and Evanton to Bonar Bridge, Altnaharra and Thurso.
Threshold Sports commercial director, Nick Tuppen, said that the event, which raises over £100,000 a day for charity, had used the same route for the past four years. He said it took the safety of its riders very seriously.
He said: “We will continue to work closely with the local police, local councils and highways department and look at all available options to minimise disruption for the local community.”