Scots councils slammed for not gritting paths

Council workers grit pavements in Penicuik, but many other pathways were not treated. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Council workers grit pavements in Penicuik, but many other pathways were not treated. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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PEDESTRIAN and cycle campaigners yesterday criticised Scottish councils for failing to clear icy pavements and cycle paths, five days after the last heavy snowfall.

The accusations came as the Met Office issued a Scottish severe weather warning for the 14th day in a row, for ice in the north-east until 11am today.

Off-road cycle routes, such as stretches of the national cycle network, are among those not yet gritted, despite many roads being treated.

They included parts of route seven along the River Clyde in Glasgow, which are used by both walkers and cyclists, including commuters.

The situation was also poor in several other Scottish cities, although Edinburgh was praised for keeping paths clear.

Graphic design firm ZenBike tweeted to The Scotsman: “For Inverness, not clearing is the norm – unless on road. Most pavements not cleared.”

Designer Andrewwd tweeted: “Same in Dundee. I commute a different route if icy, or walk the icy bits.”

A Met Office A spokesman said: “A wintry mix of showers will continue to feed inland across coasts of eastern Scotland during Wednesday night. As these fall on to frozen ground, icy stretches are likely to form on untreated surfaces.”

Stuart Hay, head of Living Streets Scotland, which lobbies for pedestrians, said: “We are concerned busy routes and key pedestrian areas don’t always get the same priority as roads when it comes to gritting.

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“It’s important that pavements are ice-free, especially for older people who simply won’t venture out in cold weather if they don’t feel it is safe. Whilst volunteers might have a role to play, it is important key routes get the priority they deserve.”

John Lauder, national director of cycle route developers Sustrans Scotland, said it was “disappointing” that main cycle routes had not been cleared in Glasgow.

He said: “The facilities in place for cycling are great, but they simply have not been properly cleared during this biting cold weather.

“If we want to get more people cycling their short, everyday journeys in Glasgow, it is essential they can do so safely.”

Mr Lauder said that by contrast, cycle routes had been kept largely clear in Edinburgh, so ­cycling levels had not been hit.

Keith Irving, chief executive of Scottish Government-funded development group Cycling Scotland, said: “It is essential that maintenance programmes designate key cycling routes that link people to essential services and jobs as a high priority.”

Glasgow City Council said it was due to have treated all “priority footways” by last night and would then move on to “secondary footways”, which include off-road cycle paths.

A spokeswoman said: “We are currently focusing on priority routes, which comprise of 53 per cent of the city’s network.

“Gritting staff have been out round the clock and we also have additional external resources deployed to help our teams with the continued treatment of pavements and ­footways.”

Highland Council said footpaths and cycleways were cleared “according to priority”, which “varied from day to day depending on weather ­conditions”.

A spokesman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, which represents councils, said: “Scotland’s councils have done a tremendous job in both the forward planning in preparation for, and then dealing with the consequences of, the adverse weather conditions.”