The vast majority of my routes will be on Scotland’s delightful B-roads, usually single track with passing places. These roads receive minimal traffic and if you are a cyclist used to urban commuting this will come as a pleasant surprise.
There will be occasional vehicles that come towards you or from behind. I always try to find the nearest passing place to pull over to allow them to pass. Some roads will be wide enough to allow you to move towards the verge without needing to stop and the vehicle will be able to pass. I am always courteous with drivers and the exchange of a friendly wave is all part of the experience of being in this remote part of the world. And who knows, one of these car drivers could just be your bed and breakfast owner or the barman serving you a drink after your ride.
I have often come across extremely kind drivers who will make a point of stopping and pulling over to allow me to pass, even when it is not necessary. I have rarely experienced agressive driving on rural B-roads.
Off-road routes that are on canal paths or disused railway lines have the advantage of no vehicles, but they are also popular with walkers, dog walkers, joggers and other cyclists. This can be just as hazardous as vehicles and you may find yourself having to concentrate just as much as if you were on a busy road, depending on how popular the path is and how close it is to an urban area. I find that it is essential to slow down when these paths are busy and a bicycle bell is essential to warn walkers that are in front of you.
The Formartine and Buchan Way. A traffic-free cycle path on a disused railway line in Aberdeenshire.
A-roads in remote locations are viable cycling routes. For example, the A-roads on the Isle of Lewis are fairly quiet and often the only option to get to your destination. However, other A-roads are impossible for cycling and would be a death wish. You would not want to get off at Gleneagles station and start cycling down the A-9, for example. Not only is this dangerous there is also no joy in being constantly passed by roaring, speeding traffic.
Where an A-road is a viable option I adopt a straight and steady poise. It is important to concentrate on your road position and maintain it, don’t got too far into the edge of the road.
Traffic is faster on A-roads that are in more densley populated parts of Scotland and most drivers will not want to slow down for you. They will overtake at speed. I find that the majority of drivers on A-roads give me enough space when overtaking. Without a doubt the most caring and courteous drivers are those in charge of massive articulated lorries. They always pull right over to the other side of the road giving me heaps of space.
Sometimes you might find yourself inadvertantley causing a traffic jam. If the sightlines of the road make it challenging for drivers to overtake they will have to slow down behind you until a suitable overtaking spot can be found. The longer this takes the more the traffic will build up behind you. When I am aware of this situation developing I always pull over and allow the traffic to pass.