Roadmap to an active travel future for Blackburn with Darwen

Published Thursday 12 November 2020 at 11:30

Blackburn with Darwen Council (BwD) are on a mission to make walking and cycling the first choice and easiest choice of travel for short trips across the region.

Using emergency funding from Department for Transport (DfT) to help local authorities cope with the covid-19 crisis, a number of infrastructure changes have been implemented, with more to come. And with England back in lockdown to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, walking, cycling and being active at home will once again be an essential way that many residents make up their daily exercise.

Rolled out in the summer, Phase 1 of the Witton Park to Blackburn Town Centre Stride and Ride Corridor scheme (BSR) provided a permanent safe walking and cycling route from Witton Park in Blackburn to the town centre. Witton Park is the focal point for walking and cycling in the Borough, with a Cycle Centre facility located within the 480 acre public park.

BSR route map

The Blackburn Stride and Ride scheme will create a route from Witton Park providing a safe corridor to and from Blackburn Town Centre, including:

  • For the return journey a new permanent cycle lane will be installed on A674 King Street, Whalley Banks and Redlam and return the cyclist to Witton Park utilising long sections of with vehicle/ cyclist segregation
  • Whole route support with approved DfT social distancing signage in the form of thermoplastic signs laid along the route using thermoplastic lining, including route signage and way-markers.


The safe corridor encompasses a total of three schools and Blackburn College, providing great opportunities to encourage safer walking and cycling, reduce traffic and increase road safety.

We want to build spaces that encourage residents to make walking or cycling their first and easiest choice when making those everyday short journeys under a mile.

Blackburn’s Head of Highways, Dwayne Lowe, said:

We’re pleased with the positive changes we’ve implemented already to support people making journeys on foot or by bicycle across the borough, with much more to do in Phase 2.

We want to build spaces that encourage residents to make walking or cycling their first and easiest choice when making those everyday short journeys under a mile. To assist in this the Council’s ActiveBwD team, funded by Sport England, has launched a new informative and interactive walking app called ExploreBwD.

The walking app allows users to explore a range of walks in their local area. The walks are suitable for all abilities and can be found in Blackburn, Darwen and further afield. Users will also be able to use the app to create and upload their own routes as they walk them.

Strava Metro data is already showing local support for increased active travel choices, with 23 per cent more residents walking or running and more than 20 per cent more cycling along existing routes since March 2020.

Blackburn with Darwen Councillor Zainab Rawat is passionate about helping residents be more active:

Walking, cycling and being active every day is proven to improve your immune system, and while the coronavirus pandemic continues, everything we can do to enable residents to be more active will be beneficial. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces your risk of diseases like cancer and heart disease too. Being active also helps boost your mental wellbeing. We can all make changes in our daily lives to be more active.

BwD’s re:fresh Physical Activity and Health Improvement Manager Amy Greenhalgh added:

Our residents are currently ranked 143 out of 150 local authorities for inactivity, with 37 per cent ‘inactive’ and the Council signed a Healthy Weight Declaration in 2017 to try and improve our community’s health. Witton Park and the Cycle Centre are perfectly placed to help families get active. The weather may be against us at this time of year, but grab your raincoat and get out there. If every individual commits to changing just one short journey a week, they will feel the health benefits.

There’s still much to do to increase activity and reduce congestion in our communities, which is part of the BwD Climate Change Emergency carbon neutral by 2030 promise and Healthy Weight Declaration.

The Cycle Centre is a bespoke cycle hub with a fully functional workshop and point of information and support for those living or working within BwD. The Centre offers a range of cycling sessions and specialist equipment catering for all ages and abilities including those with disabilities, and any carers who are supporting individuals.

Depending on social distancing restrictions in place, seasonal timetables, activities and support include:

  • Cycle and equipment hire for both adults and children
  • Adult learn to ride courses
  • Back on your bike sessions (re:fresh)
  • Pedal around the park sessions
  • Balanceability sessions for children
  • Inclusive cycle sessions on a drop in basis including adapted bikes and trikes
  • Easy access to Billinge Wood Mountain Bike Trails

Phase 2 plans for BwD, pending funding, include:

  • New infrastructure to connect Witton Park safely to National Cycle Route 6 (NCR6) in the form of new permanent cycle lanes
  • Alterations to TRO’s on a bus lane and installation of new DfT approved signage along the whole of NCR6
  • A new permanent cycle lane along A674 Preston Old Road linking to an existing bus/ cycle lane (where current AM peak operation and enforcement will be expanded to 24 hour operation)
  • A new permanent pop-up cycle lane on A6447 Buncer Lane providing a formal link into National Cycle Network Route 6 for the remainder of the journey to Blackburn Town Centre
  • Other routes being considered are the A6119 Yew Tree Drive corridor

For more BwD active travel news join our Facebook group and visit

The ExploreBWD app is available to download on:



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