Core Paths: What are They, Why are They Important & Where are They?

Sometimes Core Paths get forgotten when it comes to discussing cycle facilities and I publish this piece as a short reminder. The concept of “Core Paths” was introduced  under  the  Land  Reform  (Scotland)  Act  as  way  of  recording  and  safeguarding  important and popular routes.  Routes designated as ‘core paths’ are protected in a similar way to Rights of Way and are intended to form a network of safe and unobstructed routes across Scottish local authority areas, linking people to local facilities, visitor  attractions  and  the  wider  countryside,  and  supporting  healthy  lifestyles  through  active  travel  and  outdoor  recreation. Some general information on Core Paths may be found here .

Importantly for cyclists, core paths can be used by all non-motorised users provided they do so responsibly.  Thus in a city, the majority of use will be by walkers and cyclists,  but  the  core  paths  network  also  includes  routes  suitable  for  horse-riders,  canoeists,  kayakers  and  other  users.

So why are they specifically important?

In some cities, notably Glasgow, Core Paths overlap with the city centre pedestrianised areas, though for reasons known only to the city planners, they have declined to erect any signage indicating that these routes may be used by cyclists. Thus, cyclists sometimes find themselves challenged when riding in the overtly pedestrian-only areas of Sauchiehall Street, Argyle Street, Buchanan Street and St Enoch Place, when they have a clear legal right to do so. I would add a word of caution. At times these streets are extremely busy with pedestrians and it may be better to avoid cycling these areas on these occasions.

It is also worth noting that the pedestrianised Rose Street in Edinburgh is a Core Path and thus fully accessible to cyclists as is most of the Royal Mile, despite the section outside of St Giles Cathedral being blocked by tourists for much of the time.

In the interest of helping cyclists determine the location of Scotland’s designated Core Paths here is a link to a map server showing their locations. If you are in any doubt, look it up.

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