Published February 9, 2015 at 14:31
An exciting new cycling route in the borough is set to be brought to life over the next few years.
The Weavers Wheel, a 26km circular route around the town of Blackburn, is part of a multi-million pound East Lancashire wide project seeking local Growth Funding to transform cycling opportunities across the region.
The commitment to make it easier for people in East Lancashire to cycle to access opportunities for work, education and training, as well as for health and leisure is one of the key features of the Highways and Transport Master Plan for the area.
The inspiration behind plans for the development of the Weavers Wheel was from local residents and founders of the Young Weavers group Kevin and Vicky Riddehough.
Working in partnership with Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Kevin and Vicky have been instrumental to the detailed design of the scheme which is now at an advanced stage.
The Wheel which will also include a series of ‘spokes’ into Blackburn town centre and ‘spurs’ out to neighbouring towns and villages will provide the borough with a comprehensive network of clearly signed routes making cycling and walking trips more enjoyable and rewarding.
Subject to a value for money assessment, work on the wheel will start later this year and is set for completion by 2016/17.
Cycling across the UK has witnessed a boom in recent years owing to several factors including the increasing cost of travel and the success by British athletes at an elite level on the track at Olympic, Commonwealth games and World Championships plus the Tour de France.
Kevin Riddehough said: “The numbers of people cycling in the borough has grown over the last decade thanks to Local Transport Plan and Local Sustainable Transport Fund investment by the Council. The interest in cycling has also been helped by the local partnership with British Cycling, the development of a successful led-ride programme, enhanced bikeability training for children and adults and better marketing and promotion.
“The development of the Weavers Wheel will therefore cater for this new demand by providing an enjoyable and attractive network of fully signed routes”
“People that have completed the route commented on it being remarkably flat, given the fact we live in such a hilly area. I think this would promote the route to people who feel any route around our town would be out of their capabilities.
“The Weavers Wheel also offers safe off road travel with recognised crossing points to many schools around our borough, and hopefully it will help reduce parents needing to make the car journeys at peak times, in turn reducing our carbon footprints.”
By linking together existing well used cycle infrastructure such as the Leeds & Liverpool canal towpath, paths within Witton Country Park and along the River Darwen Parkway, the Arran Trail plus a mix of other on and off road cycle links, the ‘wheel’ which will be signed in both a clockwise and anti-clockwise direction will create a convenient, coherent and flexible network for cyclists and walkers.
Whilst people will be able to pick up the wheel at any point along its route the starting point will be promoted as the new Cycling Hub at Witton Country Park created thanks to Local Sustainable Transport funding.
Cllr Maureen Bateson, Executive Member for Regeneration, said: “The development of the Weavers Wheel is an important part of the regions cycle network. It will help to transform the perception of cycling and inspire residents and visitors of all ages to undertake more trips by bike or by foot whether for employment, training, education or leisure purposes.
“The Weavers Wheel is an exciting project that will really help put the borough on the map as a place to visit and spend leisure time.
“The Council, via its Connect sustainable transport project, has been pleased to support it as a huge investment in the borough’s sustainable transport infrastructure.
“The Weavers Wheel will provide the opportunity for people to cycle or walk on largely off-road routes to reach other parts of the borough or to simply enjoy the outdoors and stay healthy.”
In total the Weavers Wheel scheme including the spokes and spurs will be 92kms in length offering cyclists as well as walkers a fully signed interconnected network of routes crossing rich and varied landscape linking existing and planned employment, retail and residential areas with green open space.