COUNCIL officers have been asked to look into the potential impact on bus services if more cycle lanes are created throughout Inverclyde - after a meeting was told that cars are not a priority.

A request for officials to prepare a detailed report on the local authority’s cycle route strategy and its potential pros and cons was raised at a recent meeting of the local authority's environment and regeneration committee.

Plans are currently being drawn up for five new cycle lanes to be added to the area’s existing infrastructure, with consultants already appointed to carry out feasibility design work for the routes.

The scheme will be the latest in a series of cycle lane projects the council has delivered in partnership with active travel organisation Sustrans.

Conservative councillor Graeme Brooks highlighted concerns constituents had raised about a perceived contrast between the number and quality of cycle lanes being built in the area and the quality of the district’s roads.

He pressed officers about when elected members would be able to view the designs.

Council officer Gordon Leitch told Mr Brooks that the designs were currently in the early stages and that plans would be shared in due course.

Mr Leitch added: “The only thing I’d point out about the road and the cycle network is that the new hierarchy is pedestrians first, cyclists, buses and everything else and I think that cars are last in the list unfortunately.

“That’s the route we’re going down now.”

Council leader Stephen McCabe said that he would be happy to have a debate about the cycle lanes in the council chambers and suggested that officers bring back a report on the scheme.

Councillor McCabe explained that he supported new cycle lanes ‘in principle’ but emphasised the differing characteristics of Inverclyde’s roads when compared to those elsewhere.

He also pointed out that cash for the cycle lane scheme is ring-fenced, meaning the local authority cannot use it for other purposes.

Mr McCabe said: “As I understand, this programme is part of a national strategy where the government is keen to improve cycling and walking routes and safer streets.

“We’re getting ring-fenced funding to implement this national strategy locally and we’re developing schemes here.

“The money that we’re getting for this cannot be spent on renewing our pavements and our carriageways.

“So, we either take this funding and we design these schemes in line with the national strategy to make our streets safer for pedestrians and for cyclists, or we turn the money down and say we’re not going to do that.

“We’re not going to get the money to spend on resurfacing our roads and pavements.

“Now there certainly has been recently suggestions from SPT (Strathclyde Partnership for Transport), and I think we’ve seen it from bus companies as well, that cycling routes, not just in Inverclyde but elsewhere, are impacting on the efficiency of the bus service.

“I think SPT’s view is we’re spending too much money on cycling routes and not enough money supporting bus services and bus routes."

Councillor Brooks responded: “The challenge is if a new cycle route or an improved cycle route is going to be to the detriment of a bus then we don’t see that until very late on in the process."

SNP councillor Chris Curley said that there was good reason for the ‘hierarchy’ to be in place.

He said: “Generally if the infrastructure is properly designed then the top of the pyramid of the hierarchy flows freely and that includes people walking, cycling and taking public transport.

“I’ve seen stuff that’s been designed in other areas – public transport is ingrained within that streetscape and moves freely.”

The ward one representative said he believes that the measures being proposed would ensure that public transport still played an important role in Inverclyde.