Meeting with Patrick Harvie

New digital tool to help strengthen of South’s active travel network

An innovative new digital tool which will support South of Scotland communities to develop new active travel networks in their areas has been showcased for the first time.

The new product is being developed by Sweco as part of the CivTech Challenge project, which aims to use technology to solve real-life challenges facing public and third sector organisations in Scotland.

CivTech Challenge

  • We set Sweco the challenge of using technology to unlock the power of the bike to stimulate demand for cycling infrastructure and support South of Scotland communities.
  • Europe’s leading design, engineering, environment and regulatory consultants, Sweco have now created the Build Your Bike Route product, which aims to allows users to better understand active travel design.
  • The product allows access to innovative digital mapping tools and alternative path construction techniques focussed on using low carbon and recycled materials.
  • This will aim to help communities and the public sector currently facing resource and skills issues to speed up their active travel strategies in rural areas.
  • This in turn will increase viable planning applications and approvals, and then investment in cycle path infrastructure, supporting local and national targets linked to a Just Transition to Net Zero.

Patrick Harvie visit

The Build Your Bike Route product was showcased to Patrick Harvie, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights, on a visit to Dumfries today (Friday 10 November), ahead of the next stage of development for the digital tool.

Mr Harvie’s visit follows a South of Scotland delegation visit to the UCI Bike Region Forum in Belgium last month, to learn how the country connects its regions using interconnected paths and bridges.

Roadmap to Decarbonisation

Mr Harvie’s visit to Dumfries also included a discussion around the SOSE-commissioned ‘A Roadmap to Decarbonisation’ – a Community Wealth Building report launched earlier this year.

The report predicted more than 2,200 jobs can be created in the South of Scotland by retrofitting energy efficiency measures to the region’s social housing stock.

Minister for Active Travel Patrick Harvie said:

“I first heard about the Build Your Bike Route project at an event during the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships in the summer and was keen to find out more.

“Many of the best plans for improving walking, wheeling and cycling are community-led or enjoy strong community support. But it is not always easy for community groups to know how best to put together a plan and navigate the various steps in making the plan a reality.

“So, I am delighted to join South of Scotland Enterprise and Sweco to learn more about the Build Your Bike Route project and consider how it might help community-led planning not just in south of Scotland but across the country.”

 Professor Russel Griggs, Chair of SOSE, said:

“This was the perfect CivTech Challenge for SOSE – combining our desire for the South to embrace innovation, and our region’s aim of becoming one of the leading cycling destinations in the world.

“In order to unlock the power of the bike, it is critical public, private and third sectors and our communities work together to have the correct infrastructure in place to support local and visiting cyclists to enjoy our region.

“The South of Scotland Cycling Partnership has made excellent progress in this area in 2023, with the launch of the new Kirkpatrick C2C, the South of Scotland’s Coast to Coast route, the UCI Bike Region Label, a new SOSE Cycling Infrastructure Fund and the hosting of the 2023 UCI World Cycling Championships.

“The development of the Build Your Bike Route tool is another fantastic opportunity for the South to embrace technology to strengthen our active travel network, bringing further social, wellbeing and environmental benefits for the South.”

Alexander McNaughton, Principal Engineer with Sweco, added:

“Sweco’s mission statement is to transform society together and when this challenge came to our attention we felt this was a great opportunity to combine our own objectives with those of the challenge and SOSE. 

“We feel this tool can be used to empower local communities, deliver faster active travel solutions and combine this with the most sustainable construction techniques.

“For active travel infrastructure projects to be successful they are reliant on connecting communities, our tool will allow communities to move at pace to build networks of active travel infrastructure instead of isolated connections, thus maximising the impact within communities.”

Steve Plummer, CivTech Innovation Manager, added:

“The successful delivery of e-bikes challenge has the potential to transform how rural communities interact and move around their localities as well as having a major positive impact on the environment and Scotland’s overarching net zero targets.

“The team on Build Your Bike Route have been committed to creating a great solution working in true partnership to achieve the end result with oversight and governance that is being held up as best practice for future CivTech challenges.”