Policy chiefs in Fife have promised to consider walking and cycle-friendly “green routes” as part of the next revision of the Kingdom’s transport strategy.
Green route designation would see low-traffic country roads given lower speed limits and special signs that designate them as “walking and cycling friendly”.
Last year, councillors Jonny Tepp and Tim Brett lobbied Fife Council officers to examine how such routes could be introduced to North East Fife following success in Clackmannanshire and Perth and Kinross.
Having considered the Lib Dem members’ request, roads boss Derek Crowe says nothing will be considered for north east Fife at this particular point in time because it could be perceived as giving the area special treatment.
Pledge to consider green routes
However, he has pledged to consider green routes for Fife as a whole as part of the next update to Fife’s Local Transport Strategy, which is being reviewed between now and autumn next year.
Mr Crowe said: “On reflection, this needs to be considered as part of a new active travel strategy being developed as part of our Local Transport Strategy.
“We will consider green routes within that wider active travel strategy, rather than some local review within north east Fife.”
The local transport plan was last examined in 2006 – and he acknowledges that it has been “overtaken” by the march of progress.
He has also warned that any expansion of the roads network – such as building new cycle routes using funding from sustainable transport body Sustrans – could weigh heavily on the council’s roads maintenance budgets.
Lockdown sees more active travel
However, the call for green routes comes at a time when active travel has been embraced during the coronavirus pandemic.
Areas of Fife recorded noticeable improvements in air quality during lockdown as people took to their bikes more.
Transport experts say this is because of lower levels of vehicular traffic on the road putting people at ease, but those benefits are under threat of being washed away as car use returns to pre-pandemic levels.
Cllr Brett, Tay Bridgehead rep, says action on green routes needs to happen as soon as possible.
“Perth and Kinross have spent the last 15 years developing their green routes network – this isn’t something that can be done overnight,” he said.
Bill Porteous, East Neuk and Landward Lib Dem councillor, believes Fife Council has a duty to promote active travel – and green routes have their part to play.
“People are scared to get on a cycle on our roads,” he said.
“If we want active travel we have to create [opportunities] – but since May 2017 not one metre of cycle path or active travel has been built.”