In September 2018, the ABC’s hit documentary series Australian Story tracked ...
JAHAMA Highland Estates (JHE) in Scotland has partnered with LochaberEnviro to introduce an electric bike scheme to improve community access and wellbeing.
The Hi-Bike Fort William electric bike project was officially launched on 4th April by Patrick Harvie MSP, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights (pictured left in main image with Councillor Sarah Fannet). Initially the project will consist of 40 electric bikes installed across five docking/charging stations at Inverlochy, Caol, Fort William High Street and the travel centre.
Keeping safe and active during COVID-19
The scheme is the latest development in JHE’s involvement with the Scottish Government’s Active Travel initiative. For the last two years, throughout the COVID-19 challenges, JHE has been working in partnership with local and national agencies to improve the walking and biking footpath access in and around the area close to the ALVANCE British Aluminium smelter in Fort William, specifically, an area known locally as the Black Parks and the Black Park Road.
JHE ensured access was available for a large bike stand for up to eight electric bikes to be installed in Inverlochy village, close to the start of the wider Back Parks development. The Estates arranged for a pedestrian-only zone and access to the e-bikes for a wide cross section of the community.
Jonathan Hart, Liaison Manager at JHE, says: “Developing community and culture is one of JAHAMA Highland Estates’ key pillars and our vision clearly states we ‘engage with communities to connect people and place, facilitate participation and rebuild the bond between livelihoods and landscape’. Our support of the Active Travel initiative is a really good example of this in action. These routes have been key for improving our wider community’s access to local facilities, enabling staff to bike to work, and for taking regular exercise in a vehicle-free environment. All these facilities have been supporting people through the last two years of COVID-19. We hope to see many people making use of the new Hi-Bike Fort William bikes.”
Importance to the local community
The route’s importance to local residents and tourists alike goes back to the early 1900s at the beginning of the aluminium smelter. The route, which is still popular today, links Inverlochy village with key local locations such as the police station, Lochaber High School, Fort William Health Centre, Stramash nursery as well as being a key route enabling people to get to shops and other facilities and across to neighbouring towns Corpach and Caol.
With over 700 pedestrians and 500 cycles recorded on the busiest days in Autumn 2021, the route has been key to keeping local ALVANCE British Aluminium employees, residents and tourists active throughout the various COVID-19 lockdown periods and has been key to ensuring safe and active travel in the area.
JHE facilitated the route to become traffic-free under the Scottish Government ‘Spaces for People’ programme overseen by Highland Council, to create a safe off-road link between Inverlochy and the High School, the medical centre, childcare nursery, and attractions around Old Inverlochy Castle. The Estates have been key to ensuring the route has been resurfaced, lighting added for night-time and low light conditions, signage added and most importantly ensuring that a road closure order came into effect, making it a more attractive and safer route for year-round pedestrian use.
Image caption: Resurfacing of the Black Parks road and linking footpaths