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Dufftown cyclist fears

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Freshly approved plans which allow cyclists to travel on pavements through a Moray town have come under attack amid fears that pensioners leaving their homes could be struck and seriously injured.
Residents in Dufftown’s Balvenie Street leave their properties straight onto the footpath – which cyclists are now able to make free use of as part of a council scheme.
Local authority transport bosses say the move could bring more tourists to the town famed as the world’s malt whisky capital, and are creating signs encouraging visitors to use the bicycle-friendly streets.
However, the pavement is not big enough to be segregated into sections for pedestrians and cyclists.
And yesterday, Dufftown residents raised concerns that the ploy could place some of the area’s more vulnerable residents in harm’s way.
Speyside Glenlivet councillor, Mike McConachie, said he had grave fears that council officers had not sufficiently considered those risks.
He said: “We are going to have big signs encouraging people to cycle on the pavement, people are not happy about it.
“My main worry is for folk coming out their front doors, we have a lot of older residents who could just walk straight into the path of a cyclist.
“It’s just another thing for people to worry about.”
Dufftown mum, Angela Cullis said she would fear for her two young daughters walking along Balvenie Street to Mortlach Primary School every day.
Mrs Cullis said: “It’s not exactly a wide pavement, and I have enough worries with people driving past on the road without this.”
Dog walkers Lindsay Shaw and Alfie Croxford said people would have to keep a close eye on their pets along the streets involved in the scheme.
Under the new guidelines, pavements at The Square, Station Road and along the A941 Dufftown to Elgin road will also be shared between cyclists and pedestrians.
The policy was endorsed by Moray Council’s economic development and infrastructure services committee.
However, members insisted that the matter be brought back before them if it emerged that it was causing accidents.
Mr McConachie, who is not on the committee and did not vote on the matter, welcomed the stipulation.
His fellow Speyside Glenlivet member, Pearl Paul, raised her concerns directly with council transport chiefs.
Mrs Paul said: “Most of the houses on Balvenie Street open right onto the pavement, and I’m concerned this has not been well thought out.”
The SNP group’s economic development spokesman, Graham Leadbitter added: “None of our cycle-paths elsewhere have this same conflict, and cyclists can travel at some rate.”
However, Mrs Paul conceded that few people in the town had formally objected to the plan and reluctantly lent it her blessing.
She added: “I think we should try this, but get rid of it if problems manifest themselves with kids or old ladies getting knocked down.”
The local authority’s transportation manager, Nicola Moss, said the idea was intended to “extend Moray’s travel network”.
She said: “It should encourage more people to travel actively and cycle, the paths are wide enough for shared use but not to be segregated.”
“It would be possible to review the plan if it appears that changes are required.”
Dufftown cyclist, George Thomson, said he would only ever use the pavement if he was sure there was little risk of hitting anyone.
Mr Thomson said: “I’d keep to the outside edge, and I just hope everybody else takes that commonsense approach.”

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