MSP backs initiative to turn old rail routes into cycle paths

FORMER railway routes around the town could be transformed into cycle paths.

The plans have been pursued by Scottish Borders Council for some time and were this week supported by Hawick MSP John Lamont.

The Tory politician believes the initiative could improve safety, by separating cyclists and motorists, while also boosting one of the fastest-growing sports in the UK.

He said: “The last year has seen a huge increase in the popularity of cycling in the UK. With successes in the Tour de France and at the Olympics, more people than ever are taking up cycling and we need to do everything we can to encourage it.

“That is why I believe that Scottish Borders Council should turn the many former, unused railway lines in the Borders into cycle routes.

“We are blessed in our region with some of the most scenic railway journeys in the whole of the United Kingdom. However, since a lot of our railways were shut down, we are unable to fully appreciate these former journeys.

“Allowing cyclists to use
them would help reinvigorate them, while also encouraging tourists from across the country to come and enjoy them.”

As well as the economic benefit from increased tourism, there are also positives from a health and wellbeing perspective.

And Julian Cram, of Border Cycles, believes such routes would also be of great significance to locals.

He told the Hawick News: “The biggest one for me would be opening up the link between Hawick and St Boswells.

“There are a lot of people who live in the town and work at the council so that could have potential to be a commuter run. I think the whole idea is brilliant.”

The local authority has recently initiated work on developing the former railway line between Peebles and Innerleithen to provide a shared access route between the two towns.

However, a spokesperson revealed such schemes depended heavily on time and money.

They said: “The council would certainly like to try and develop other similar routes within our area but this will be difficult to achieve within current financial constraints.”