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Campaigners descend on the streets of Inverness to call for more safe cycling routes

Cyclists took part in the Kidical Mass event in Inverness to create awareness for more safety for cyclists.

Traffic came to a standstill in Inverness as dozens of cyclists took to the streets to campaign for more active travel routes across the city.

Campaigners of all ages undertook a 5K cycle across the city centre on Saturday afternoon, in support of the global movement Kidical Mass.

The movement is designed to help give young people a voice in creating safer cities for them to cycle in.

Organised by a group of volunteers, the event is to be held on the first Saturday of the month, aiming to bring families, adults and children together to have a fun filled bike ride through the streets.

The event was the second of its kind to take place in Inverness in recent weeks.

In August, the first Kidical Mass event was held attracting around 50 cyclists.

Kat Heath, from Inverness, is one of several organisers involved in the project.

Organiser Kat Heath with her son Blake and her mum Jan at Bellfield Park.

The 37-year-old hopes the campaign will create a brighter future for her 10-month-old son Blake, whilst getting people excited about cycling with confidence.

She said: “There are so many people here that want safe active routes in Inverness. We want to be able to cycle safely and we can’t and that’s just not OK.

“We should have safe connecting paths for our children so they go to school.

“Today is about saying we want safe cycle paths and we want people to come together and feel safe, have fun and feel confident cycling together because it is fun.

“Kidical Mass is about giving a voice to the next generation so that they can cycle safely.”

‘I’m 100% in support’

Cyclists gathered at Bellfield Park in Inverness before setting off their 5K route, which took in the grid-locked Castle Street before finishing at Whin Park.

MS sufferer Ian Tallach was among the participants taking part in the Kidical Mass.

Ian Tallach, 50, from Drumnadrochit, was medically retired from pediatrics after being diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis (MS).

In 2019, he took up cycling after being given a trike by local charity WheelNess which was life-changing.

He said: “It was like the lights coming on for me.

“Fiona Johnson, who is here with the charity WheelNess, granted me this trike and its improved my physical health to a large degree but mainly it’s improved my mental health just getting out and about everyday.

“I’m 100% in support of what we are doing just now and the need for more active travel infrastructure in Inverness.”

A little bit of infrastructure goes a long way

Owen McGrath from Inverness turned out to lend his support to the campaign.

Highland Council previously installed a new cycle lane on Ness Walk to help promote active travel.

Inverness resident Owen McGrath, 48, said more initiatives such as this one would make all the difference.

He said: “When lockdown came that’s when my kids got on the road properly because the traffic volume was way down and so for my youngest, who was only three, having him on the road was OK. I probably wouldn’t do it now but we had the opportunity then.

“The infrastructure that we have on the other side of the River Ness, that is great, the counter flow cycle lane. That’s changed that whole side of the river and the kids can now go up and down that.

“Its a good demonstration that if people put a little bit of infrastructure in, it can make all the difference.”

‘I’m very keen for a long term solution’

Highland councillor Emma Knox also turned out to show her support, taking on the 5K cycle route on a tandem bike alongside her husband David.

Councillor Emma Knox and her husband David took on the 5K route on a tandem bike.

She explained how cycling has helped her rehabilitation after being involved in a car accident and stressed more needs to be done to make cycling more accessible for people of all ages and abilities.

“I’m a big fan of active travel,” she said.

“My daughter lives in Holland so I have seen what its like over there with dedicated cycle lanes and how the infrastructure is all built around the cyclists.

“I think we very much should be aiming for something similar in Scotland wide but the Highlands is a great place to start; especially Inverness.”

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