The opportunities presented by new cycle tracks in the local area are many.

The opportunities presented by new cycle tracks in the local area are many.

About a year ago, in these very columns, I set out my vision for a cycle track to link up Largs and Skelmorlie in a bid to keep cyclists off the busy A78 which has been a blackspot for many car accidents.

However, ever since, it would appear that cycle track proposals have popped up for everywhere else!

The Isle of Cumbrae is known as Scotland’s cycling friendly island, but the row that escalated over the introduction of a new cycle track has been anything but friendly!

There has been outrage at the suggestion of using a strip of the grassy seafront.

Likewise, on Fairlie seafront, proposals to build an innovative cycle track, and pedestrian path, has seen some residents strongly question if this is the right place to put an access route.

A second round of consultations is due to take place in the spring. And a cycle path at Inverkip is also in the offing. Great news for pedal power, but there is a big BUT...

There does appear some genuine grounds for concern, but one of the fears I have, as a regular cyclist, is that people on the saddle are not being listened to.

Cycling is one of the fastest growing and most popular sports, and dare I say it, it may be the silent majority, who would like to see improved access to our towns and villages on the west of Scotland, without having to venture on to a dangerous busy road.

Are we considering the many visitors to the Clyde Coast who want to cycle safely along our prom areas, and enjoy the wonderful scenery?

Likewise, some motorists have been frustrated by large groups of cyclists on our main roads, and this has been the subject of many letters to the editor during the past year.

The quandry concerning Millport is very interesting indeed. I am a huge fan of what Cumbrae has to offer the cyclist, from quick loops around the island, to an upwards climb to the picturesque Glaidstone offering stunning views as far as the Kyles of Bute, and southwards to Arran and Ailsa Craig in the far distance.

I was interested in respected historian Andrew Clark’s opinion that the Millport cycle path was ‘ill conceived’, He made the point that using a strip of the greenbelt next to the seafront was an affront to the heritage of the island going back to the days of our great grandparents.

However, I think Andrew has hit upon a fundamental point for anyone who is a cyclist. The provision for road cycling and safe cycling generally around the UK has been ignored for decades, and is far better catered for on the continent.

It took until around six years ago for a cycle path to be built between Largs and Fairlie. Perhaps it is time to get up to speed with the continent!

I would hope that some crucial, and potentially life-saving considerations are taken into account when considering these new routes.

Is the new cycle path really necessary to take bikes off the road? Will it be based in a suitable location which will enhance the beauty of the area, and encourage visitors? Will it provide additional safety? Will it be suitable for children, and families to use?

Courtesy to all is expected on cycle tracks - and I have used many of these routes over the years, and it is pleasing to see that consideration is shown between pedestrians and cyclists. The Largs multi-users path is the perfect example, and has been warmly welcomed.

It is also a great way of meeting people, getting about from ‘A’ to ‘B’, as well as improving your fitness, and general health and happiness.

Let’s hope all these factors are taken into account in order to get the full picture.