GETTING more people into active travel and onto public transport is the future of Inverness city center, according to Highland Council’s ambitious strategy for the city.
Taking an all-encompassing look at how to remodel and develop the city center the Inverness Strategy aims to boost business by increasing footfall through a range of measures though none are likely to be more contentious than the proposed new active travel routes.
The plans as laid out in the strategy call for a significant repurposing of current traffic routes in favor of walking, cycling and public transport – a move which sharply divided locals during the Covid pandemic.
Despite that furore the authors of the strategy do not shy away from making a bold assertion: “Active travel will transform Inverness city center and help Highland Council in their objective to become an exemplar of how a region can address the climate emergency. ”
The proposals state: “Consideration should be given to introducing healthier, low carbon ways of moving around, such as improved space for walking, wheeling and cycling, and improved public transport.
“Such changes could make a dramatic change to how safe and welcoming the city center feels. Moreover, it would go a significant way to improving accessibility to and use of the city center by low car ownership groups.”
This is not only seen as a means to ramp up business for traders but also to tackle the climate emergency.
“Increasing cycling as a way of moving around is widely recognized as one of the easiest ways to reduce the carbon footprint of transport, and is safer, healthier and more compatible with a welcoming city center environment than motor vehicles,” the strategy continues
“It has also become an increasingly popular leisure activity enjoyed by people of all ages and types.
“As a sustainable transport form that also has enormous public health benefits we should ensure that it is actively encouraged by providing the right infrastructure and facilities in the city center.”
The strategy’s authors recognize there will remain a need to take account of the importance of private cars “particularly for disabled people and people that do not have access to alternative transport options” and for now the “large amount of parking within the city center” remains relevant.
Ultimately, however, the aim is to make a significant move away from a city center focused on provision for private motor vehicles.
“The combination of urban realm improvements, active travel routes, National Cycle routes and an improved public transport infrastructure can create a more pedestrian and cycle friendly city center, less dependent on car usage and ownership,” the strategy says.
n Next week we look at each of the active travel plans that have been proposed in more detail, including for key city center arteries including Academy Street and Castle Street.
Related Story – Highland Council issues a major new vision for Inverness less than a month after a team led by MP Drew Hendry called for a One City, One Vision strategy for the city
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