Sandy takes to the saddle to test path

A MONTROSE councillor got on his bike recently to find out if criticisms levelled at the authority’s new cycle route are well founded.

Sandy West took to the route between Broomfield and Northwater Viaduct after it divided opinion among readers, some of whom challenged how effective and appropriate its surface is.

The £229,000 path, which is not yet officially open aims to cater for both cyclists and walkers and some have claimed that its unbound dust surface will not last even a year before it becomes too rutted for cyclists to use. It has also been claimed that it will be turned into a “quagmire” by rain, making it unattractive to walkers.

Mr West said this week that he found it to be in “excellent condition” apart from one section.

He also said he had difficulty finding its starting point which is, so far, not signposted.

He said: “In the first instance I didn’t know where it started so I went out to the waste water treatment plant on Charleton Road and cycled back to Montrose. I then turned round and continued to Northwater Viaduct.

“All the way it was in excellent condition except on one incline where water had obviously run down it and caused a couple of runnels which right now would be easily sorted.

“Over all it was excellent but the jury is out until next spring.”

Mr West said the real test would be its condition after the winter, particularly if conditions are similar to those experienced last year.

Angus Council has defended the choice of surface, saying it is considered suitable for rural cycle paths, is both more cost-effective and more aesthetically appropriate than a sealed bitumen surface.

The authority has also pointed out that its specification is consistent with that used on rural cycle paths across Scotland.

Advice was also given by funding partner Sustrans.

Since 2001 the sustainable transport charity has owned the viaduct and agreed with the council to turn it into a safe off-road link between Montrose and St Cyrus.

Mr West, a former Angus Council roads direct, said: “I would have been listening to Sustrans as well and it could be the right surface but the jury is out in the long term.

“I realise that signs will be put up but there have already been lots of people walking and cycling on it. Most of the walkers had dogs and while the majority of them were cleaning up after them, they will have to take their bags home with them as there are no dog bins at the moment, but that will come.

“All in all I think it’s a great asset.”