Call to end ten-year wait for completion of safe cycle path

Coastal Path links Burghead and Hopeman – but final stage was never completed.

A MORAY COMMUNITY group has pledged to close the gap and complete a coastal cycling route that has been the subject of discussions for over ten years.

A feasibility study undertaken by Moray Council and cycling organisation Sustrans in 2007 sought to link Lossiemouth High School with its feeder primaries at Burghead and Hopeman with a safe cycle route.

By 2012, Burghead, Hopeman and Duffus were connected with the traffic-free pathway – the Coastal Cycle Route – but still the final link, from Hopeman to Lossiemouth, was not put in place.

That is a gap the Lossiemouth Community Development Trust is hoping to close – and, at last, create the final link that would allow safe passage from cyclists. The LCDT, who are working on several projects that would bring massive benefits to the Moray town, highlighted the issue at a recent public exhibition, drawing a great deal of interest and support from the community.

Highlighting that completion of the final section would connect residents around Covesea to their local supermarket, doctor’s surgery and other amenities without their having to traverse a busy and often dangerous road, local resident Janet Tythall said: “There’s no bus service connecting Hopeman to Lossiemouth – and the B9040 road is extremely unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians.

“I have no option but to take my car for short trips into Lossiemouth, which is a perfectly cycleable distance from my home.”

Janet joined a sub-group of the LCDT to probe options available in finally completing the route, which was identified by the Trust as one of their main long-term priorities in a survey conducted two years ago.

A survey undertaken at the public event last month indicated that 93.5% of those asked would be likely to run or cycle if there was a dedicated path – while a high percentage, 65.2%, indicated that they had a scary encounter with another road user on the B9040.

Melanie Newbould, a keen cyclist and member of the group, explained: “I lead rides for Belles on Bikes, a local ladies leisure cycling club, and we often visit the Aroma Café at Covesea, and even a short one mile cycle along the B9040 can be a terrifying experience.

“The path connecting Duffus to Burghead, however, is a much more pleasant cycling experience, and a great path for walkers, runners and skaters alike. It would be great to get the route extended to include Lossiemouth, which would give a traffic-free cycle option all the way from Burghead to Lhanbryde.”

The Hopeman to Lossiemouth Cycle Path Group are currently putting together a funding bid to get an updated feasibility study completed on the route and are seeking more support from the public to secure the required funding.

Anyone who may wish to inform that bid is being asked to visit the Lossiemouth Community Development Trust website to complete the online survey.

Further support is sought in particular from the communities who would benefit from the path being connected to Lossiemouth, including Hopeman, Duffus and RAF Lossiemouth.