Inverness councillors have voted in favour of retaining a controversial one-way traffic system on Riverside Way.
The decision followed a 12-7 vote at a tense meeting of Inverness committee on Thursday.
Highland Council can now make permanent a Traffic Regulation Order for a one-way system with cycling contraflow.
The longer-term design for the whole Riverside area is still subject to further discussion.
The one-way system divided opinion both among the public and the Inverness councillors. Fourteen people objected to the plan while there were 18 comments in support.
Much of the opposition came from local residents and Ballifeary community council, who said the one-way system had created a ‘rat run’ and concerns were raised about increased traffic volume and speeding.
However, the council said even with a slight increase the street is still considered ‘low traffic’ and average speeds did not exceed 21mph.
Council data shows that 70% of traffic on Inverness Riverside Way is now walking and cycling, rather than cars.
‘I’ll vote for what works – and this doesn’t’
Local members Bill Boyd and Alex Graham tabled an amendment against the scheme. While both councillors claimed to support active travel in principle, they said this design was flawed.
“The people I meet – and myself too – support active travel, but this is not the way to do it,” said councillor Boyd.
He added that Sustrans’ own guidance highlights that speeds and traffic volume can increase when a street becomes one-way.
Cllr Boyd also repeated his previous concerns about the consultation process. He said the more accurate term is “passive engagement”.
Councillor Alex Graham summed up the mood of those opposed.
“Just because we support active travel doesn’t mean we have to support every active travel scheme that comes before us,” he said.
“I will vote for what works, and this doesn’t.”
Council officers warned members that a failure to make the TRO permanent could jeopardise £1.5m active travel funding from Sustrans.
Councillor Andrew Jarvie and councillor Ron MacWilliam both took issue with this, with Mr MacWilliam saying “these sorts of claims affect the democratic decision making process”.
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