Campaigners hope the Tour of Britain’s visit to the north-east can be the catalyst for a change in the region’s “hostile” attitude to cycling.
The final stage of the UK’s top bike race was held between Stonehaven and Aberdeen on Sunday, with huge crowds welcoming the world’s best racers.
However, travelling by bike is still nearly impossible to many because of poor infrastructure and over-reliance on cars, according to the Grampian Cycle Partnership.
The body wants the impact of the tour to be harnessed in time for its return next year in order to create a culture where people feel safe travelling on two wheels.
Cycling vital for city and shire
Jon Barron, the partnership’s secretary, hopes the tour can kick-start a chain of events which will make a difference to the region’s health and environment.
“We are immensely looking forward to next year and seeing the send-off, but we hope it’s a catalyst that begins a legacy,” he said.
“It was spoken about at the launch [of the Tour of Britain] that Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire is still quite a hostile place for many people who want to ride a bike.
“A lot of people won’t if they are inexperienced or not confident because they do not feel safe, and we need that to change for a whole host of reasons.
“Cycling does so much for your physical and mental wellbeing, but it can also do so much for the environment and the city.
“We all want it to be a nicer city and shire but we need to change things in terms of how we move around and cycling is part of that.”
‘Immensely proud’ of north-east
Jon was among the huge crowds which gathered at the top of the climb of Cairn O’Mount, and said he was “immensely proud” of the region and the welcome it provided for the tour.
“It’s been fantastic to see some of the best athletes showcasing the north-east, which I am immensely proud of,” Jon said.
“I am 53 but it is a bit of a pinch-me moment when you’re a few feet away from Julian Alaphilippe, Wout van Aert and Mark Cavendish. They are world-class athletes at the pinnacle of their sport.
“We can see them on the streets we normally ride on and I have grown up on, and it’s fantastic.”