PORT HOOD: Last Sunday, over 120 cyclists came together for a ride to celebrate the designation of a stretch of the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail as part of the Blue Route Provincial Cycling Network.

“It’s a chance to connect the province in a safe manner so you’ll be able to go around Nova Scotia by bicycle,” said Adam Barnett, head of Communications and Outreach for Bicycle Nova Scotia.

Last Sunday’s weather was perfect for a bike ride along the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail.

The Blue Route project takes its inspiration from the award-winning La Route Verte in Quebec. The long-term project involves extensive collaboration between Bicycle Nova Scotia and the Province of Nova Scotia, along with many other community partners, including local trail groups and volunteers.

The designated cycling route will allow continuous travel throughout Nova Scotia via interconnected bike lanes, paved shoulders in lower traffic areas, and community trails. This year will mark the designation of 430 kilometres (km) of the Blue Route. Barnett said the organizers hope to complete the entire project, which will consist of roughly 3,000 kilometres of bike routes by 2025.

Over 120 people took part in the designation of part of the Blue Route Provincial Cycling Trail.

“There are a lot of bits and pieces to make that happen, so we’re going one step at a time,” said Barnett.

On Sunday, the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail joined two other trails in the province to be designated as part of the Blue Route. Barnett said the 92-km, multi-purpose trail was a perfect addition to the route because it connects several communities along the west coast of Cape Breton, from Port Hastings to Inverness. It also provides a safe, even surface for cycling, thanks to the work of the trail’s many volunteers.

Barnett pointed out that that connecting with the trail allows the Blue Route to take advantage of resources already available and to keep sections of the route well removed from traffic.

Participants had a perfect view of the shore as they cycled into Port Hood on Sunday.

“It really makes a safer experience for everyone. It gets a lot more people out cycling that might not otherwise,” said Barnett. “It’s really a win-win for everyone.”

Among the partners who spoke at last Sunday’s designation was Blaise MacEachern, vice chair of the Nova Scotia Trails Federation and chair of the Nova Scotia Trans Canada Trails Committee. MacEachern believes the partnership with the Blue Route project will be mutually beneficial, and will have a positive impact on the communities connected by the trail.

“With today’s designation as part of Nova Scotia’s Blue Route, Celtic Shores now has an additional opportunity to grow itself as a world class cycling coastal experience. The new opportunity is for the existing and potential businesses in the Celtic Shores region to develop new and additional services and amenities to accommodate the tremendous increase in trail visitors we’ve seen in the past three years,” said MacEachern.

Blaise MacEachern represented the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail at Sunday’s bike trail opening.

As the Blue Route Project moves forward, Adam Barnett urges members of the public to get involved by going out to explore local sections of the route, and by voicing their desire for increased access to designated biking areas.

“A big part of the Blue Route is getting the government on board to support the project,” said Barnett. “We encourage people to do your best to reach out to your MLA and to advocate for safer biking lanes.”

For those interested in learning more about the project, blueroute.ca provides maps and information, as well as updates on recent trail openings and upcoming events. Information on the Celtic Shores Coastal Trail can be found at: www.celticshores.ca.