Plans to connect two coastal Moray communities with a £2 million cycle path have moved up a gear.
The proposed new track between Lossiemouth and Hopeman would be the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to a wider network of cycle paths in the area – with links already in place between Elgin and Lossiemouth, and Hopeman and Duffus.
It is hoped that the extra infrastructure will boost tourism among people keen to take in the region’s spectacular scenery on two wheels.
And it is expected that the proposed cycle track will result in “huge benefits” for the health of locals by encouraging them to cycle to and from school or work.
Chairman of the Lossiemouth Community Development Trust’s cycle group, Mike Mulholland, said: “The new cycle track would be a real prize for the county, it means we could unite all the paths in the area.”
The cost of the new cycle track is estimated at £2million.
Sustrans, a walking and cycling charity which aims to get more people active in their daily commutes, has pledged to provide half of the funds with the local campaign group committed to securing the rest.
Mr Mulholland, who is also the chairman of Lossiemouth Community Council, said the group was “confident” they will be able to acquire the amount needed.
He added: “We’ve talked about it for a while now and it’s always been well supported from the cycling and sporting community.
“Schools are also very much in favour of the cycle track – the whole county is for it.”
The project was launched more than two years ago, with cycling enthusiasts claiming the path was badly needed due to the dangers of the B9040 route between Lossiemouth and Hopeman.
One enthusiast described the narrow stretch, which has a 60mph speed limit, as “extremely unsafe”.
Melanie Newbould, from a local cycling group, said that even venturing one mile from Lossiemouth to a Covesea cafe can be a “terrifying experience”.
A survey indicated that 62% of cyclists had experienced a “scary encounter” on the road, and 93.5% said they would be more likely to run or cycle along the route if there was a dedicated path there.
Lossiemouth Community Council held a meeting earlier this month to present the plans and update people on the scheme’s progress.