LARGE parts of Scotland’s main cities are to be transformed into “mini-Hollands” under plans to boost cycling in city centres. 

Dubbed “transformative” by campaigners, five pedal-frendly projects will share in a £22 million windfall designed to convert areas of Glasgow and Edinburgh into cycling havens.

The ambitious plans include creating a Dutch-inspired cycle route linking
regeneration work along the Forth and Clyde Canal with one of the country’s most famous thoroughfares.

The pioneering “Woodside Mini-Holland” scheme in the north and west of Glasgow will connect the regeneration work at Port Dundas and the massive overhaul of the Sighthill area with the city centre.

Crucially it would combine with Sauchiehall Street, which will soon undergo work to transform it into a tree-lined avenue, with the hope it will boost economic regeneration and increase the attractiveness of the wider area.

In Edinburgh, the money – awarded by Transport Scotland – will part-fund proposals for a cycle and walking route from Roseburn to Edinburgh Park.

The West Edinburgh Active Travel Network will transform parts of the capital into a high quality cycle and pedestrian-friendly environment. 

The Meadows to George Street project also proposes to create a direct cycle link between the Old and New Towns via Forrest Road, George IV Bridge, the Mound and Hanover Street.  

A spokesman for Lothian cycling campaign group Spokes said: “In our 40th year, we welcome the transformative plan, particularly linking the Meadows with the city centre.

“This could potentially revolutionise how people go about their business in the city centre and will make a huge difference.”

Stirling will install a route north from the city centre to Stirling Bridge, linking the Raploch, Cornton and Causewayhead areas with Bridge of Allan and the University of Stirling.

The Highland Council’s plans also involve creating safer infrastructure to encourage walking and more cyclists, promoting health, reducing congestion, creating and enlivening streets and public spaces.

Run by Sustrans, the fund aims to deliver “pioneering and game-changing projects which inspire public bodies in Scotland to design better places and spaces for people to live, walk and cycle in for everyday journeys”.

Transport Minister Humza Yousaf said: “The expert panel who evaluated the bids were impressed by the local authorities’ high level of design and innovation.”

“Our ambitious Active Nation initiative is designed to encourage many more of us to make everyday and leisure journeys sustainably - on foot and by bike.

“To achieve this vision, we are doubling our investment in active travel, from £40m to £80m each year, demonstrating our commitment to make our towns and cities more walking and cycling-friendly.

Each project is expected to begin development within the next two months.

Edinburgh City council Transport Convener Councillor Lesley Macinnes said: “We are absolutely delighted that not one but two City of Edinburgh Council active travel projects have been awarded this vitally important funding. 

“As the fastest growing city in Scotland - and second fastest in the UK - it’s critical that we put people at the very heart of our transport infrastructure. “Making Edinburgh as easy as possible to get around on foot, by bike and by public transport helps everyone in this city.

“It will greatly improve residents’ and visitors’ health and wellbeing, reduce frustrating traffic congestion and harmful pollution and send a clear signal to the world that the Capital is a people-friendly place where all road users are equally as important.”