Members of a community council are considering holding an extraordinary meeting to come to a settled view about a proposal to build a new £1.6 million footpath and cycleway between Bridge of Earn and Aberargie.
Perth and Kinross Countryside Trust (PKCT) wants to create the 3.5 metre-wide route along one side of the A912 but contractors will have to reduce the width of the carriageway to make enough space for it.
The trust says the creation of the new active travel route will encourage more people to walk and cycle rather than use cars while several politicians have voiced support for the project, pointing out it will reduce the risk of pedestrians and cyclists coming to harm.
But some members of Earn Community Council (ECC), including its chairman John Bruce, have raised concerns that reducing the width of the carriageway could increase the chances of vehicles colliding with one another as drivers will have to pass each other more closely than before.
Introducing the topic for discussion at the group’s latest monthly meeting, Mr Bruce alluded to recent publicity about the proposal in the press and said he looked forward to talking about the practicalities of establishing the route with members of the trust sometime in the future.
Almond and Earn councillor David Illingworth, who just last month told the PA he believed the new route would be “a much-needed improvement” considering a cyclist died in an incident on the road last year, said the path was part of a much wider project to create an active travel link between Perth and Kincardine.
“I appreciate it’s an expensive part of the jigsaw, but it’s an important part of the jigsaw,” he said. “I know there are concerns about the width of the carriageway but the project team are working on that.”
However Cllr Illingworth’s remark about the path eventually leading to Kincardine seemed to surprise some people at the meeting. Group secretary Janice Sloan said: “I’m not aware of any information about that, not even on the PKCT website. Have I missed something?”
Cllr Illingworth replied that details of the wider project were “not a secret” but conceded they were not on the trust’s website.
Ms Sloan also said she felt the trust ought to consult more widely about the proposal considering a survey it carried out last year to gauge public opinion about it was done during the first country-wide lockdown.
“I think there should be some form of public consulation when we come out the other side of COVID,” she said.
Earlier in the discussion Mr Bruce said he had observed more people walking and cycling in the sunnier weather and so could partly understand demands for more pathways but added he was unclear whether it was strictly legal for cyclists to use them.
“Many people still consider pedestrian pathways to be for walkers,” he said, adding: “The law says you should not bicycle on pavements.”
And he went on to ask: “If you are going to do a shared-use ... you have to have segregated passages, don’t you?”
Group treasurer Paul Vallott said segregated passages would be preferable but this would only increase the cost of the project.
Almond and Earn councillor Kathleen Baird asked what the majority view of the group was about the proposal but was told members had not had that discussion yet.
The group resolved to contact PKCT to try and arrange an extraordinary meeting between their members to discuss the project and the concerns aired about it in detail at a later date.