Cyclists get £3.9m funding boost
The Scottish government is to invest an extra £3.9m in cycling infrastructure over the next two years.
The largest part of the investment - £3m - will go towards the creation of the National Cycle Network route between Oban and Inverness.
And £400,000 will be spent on encouraging children to cycle to school.
The funding is part of the capital projects investment announced by the finance secretary in December.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said last year had been a "fantastic year for cycling in Scotland", with the country's Olympic success leading to a huge surge in interest in cycling both for recreation and as a way of getting around.
He added: "So as we enter 2013 and more people think about taking up cycling with the fitness, financial and environmental benefits that brings, I am pleased to be able to announce this funding to help improve cycling infrastructure for tourists, commuters and schoolchildren in areas throughout Scotland.
"In the Highlands and Argyll & Bute, we are committing £3m to fast track the National Cycle Network route 78 between Oban and Inverness.
"The Great Glen cycle path will be an iconic route which will boost the local economy through the additional tourism in an area which already attracts over 20,000 spectators to the World Mountain Bike Championship each year in Fort William."
As part of the commitment to route 78, a cycle route will also be created between Oban and Appin, to link a remote community off the main Oban to Fort William section of the larger route.
A further £500,000 will go towards improving access to stations on the successful Airdrie to Bathgate railway.
And £400,000 will be spent on increasing cycle parking at schools, which Mr Brown said would help encourage more children to cycle.
The funding forms part of a £205m programme of capital projects announced by Finance Secretary John Swinney on 19 December.
Mr Swinney had written to Chancellor George Osborne calling on the UK government to provide an immediate targeted boost to capital investment to protect the recovery in the short term and provide the infrastructure necessary to facilitate long term economic growth.