Missing links for Blackburn and Darwen

Published Thursday 3 December 2020 at 12:07

Blackburn with Darwen Council is making it easier for residents who choose to walk or cycle across the Borough. This is part of Blackburn Stride and Ride, a local project aimed at reducing congestion and pollution in our towns, and increasing activity, fitness and wellbeing in our communities.

Over the summer, thanks to Government funding and Coronavirus directive, there’s been a welcome focus on existing routes and infrastructure, with some great work by our Highways team to rapidly create extra space for people cycling and walking. The pandemic also highlighted an untapped demand from residents to be able to cycle away from traffic and spend time in nature.

However, with just over five per cent of rights of way available for cycling and horse riding across Blackburn with Darwen, it’s often difficult for people to work out how to cycle from A to B either off-road or on quiet roads. A bridleway will suddenly come to an end at a busy road, or become a footpath for half a mile, making planning a route challenging for easy use.

There may be disused railway lines in your neighbourhood which would be perfect for cycling, or areas of land over which an access agreement could be reached, but currently the ‘missing link’ remains.

That’s why we’re supporting Cycling UK’s Missing Links campaign, enabling people to mark on a map the missing links in their area, and then contact the Council’s Highways team to start a conversation about whether anything can be done to improve this.

Existing off-road routes have so much potential for traffic-free cycling, but are often overlooked. The result is that local cycling and walking infrastructure plans (LCWIPs) and rights of way improvement plans (ROWIPs) often aren’t connected. We want to join the dots and make cycling easier for residents of all ages and purpose.

Blackburn’s Head of Highways, Dwayne Lowe said: “We understand these issues are complex and that rights of way officers, have been under resourced for many years. So it’s important that we all try to become part of the solution – you can get involved with our local access forum, contributing to ROWIPs when they’re consulted upon, and helping us to show why improving access to the countryside, upgrading rights or way, and connecting missing links is important and should be properly resourced.”

Change is coming. Darwen Town Deal bid features using a disused railway track as a new route for residents walking and cycling. The current ROWIP for Blackburn with Darwen runs until 2025 and there will be an opportunity for consultation near that date. Information received from this campaign will help inform the Town Deal and LTP4 investment. And information will also be valuable for our partnership with Lancashire County Council, who we are working to develop an LCWIP for East Lancashire.

More about the CyclingUK campaign Missing Links: FAQ | Cycling UK

Read the BSR Update Roadmap to an active travel future


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