Published Thursday 25 June 2015 at 15:42
Cycling in East Lancashire is set to be transformed thanks to £5.85m worth of improvements that will see four key routes developed to link major towns.
The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership (LEP), working with local authorities and businesses, agreed to commit £2.6m to the East Lancashire Strategic Cycle Network.
It aims to make it easier for people to access opportunities for work, education and training, as well as for health and leisure.
The cash injection is part of the £251.1m Growth Deal to support economic growth secured by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s successful bid to the government’s Growth Fund.
- The Weavers Wheel project will create a strategic cycle network of over 92km linking communities to employment, education and leisure opportunities.
- Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council will be making a contribution of £250k from Local Transport Plan funding over a five year period to match investment from the Local Growth Fund.
Blackburn with Darwen Councillor Phil Riley, Executive Member for Regeneration, said:
“This is excellent news not only for our borough but for the whole of East Lancashire.
“Developing the local cycle network will complement the multi-million pound investment in our bus and rail networks enabling our residents and visitors more attractive, greener and cheaper travel choices to access employment, education and leisure opportunities.
“By knitting together existing and planned cycle ways across the borough and indeed the rest of East Lancashire we will deliver a comprehensive network of cycle routes which offers great value for money.
“Working in partnership with local cycle clubs, British Cycling and local businesses we will help raise the profile of cycling in and around our fantastic area.”
The Weavers Wheel was the brainchild of Kevin Riddehough, the founder member of the Young Weavers Families Activities Club. Kevin has been working alongside the Council’s Connect project, aimed at promoting sustainable transport in the Borough, to bring the idea to life.
Meanwhile, in other parts of East Lancashire, the funding will allow the completion of:
- The ‘Valley of Stone’ – a mostly off-road route linking Whitworth and Rawtenstall through the Rossendale valley along a former railway line.
- The Accrington to Ramsbottom section of National Cycle Network Route 6 – a mostly off-road route which follows an old railway line between Helmshore and Accrington.
- The Huncoat Greenway in Hyndburn, which links communities and employment areas via unused and derelict former-industrial sites.
Edwin Booth, chairman of the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, said:
“Improving sustainable transport options is vital to widen access to economic opportunities and this investment will have a real impact by making cycling attractive and accessible to many more people in East Lancashire.
“These schemes complement the multi million pound investments which the LEP is already making to deliver the transport infrastructure we need to support our economy and attract further investment into the county.”
County Councillor John Fillis, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said:
“These routes will serve a number of purposes, appealing both to commuters and visitors. They are mostly off road and picturesque, and at the same time the larger routes provide direct links between towns, offering an almost traffic-free way to make a regular journey.
“The East Lancashire Strategic Cycle Network is one of the priorities outlined in the county council’s Highways and Transport Masterplan for the area, and I’m pleased we’re able to invest in completing these routes, which will make a real difference to people’s travel options, encourage healthy lifestyles, and boost the economy.”
Councillor Alyson Barnes, leader of Rossendale Council, added:
“The scheme will be a big boost to this borough. It will be good for commuters who cycle to work, it will good for tourism as it will show off some of most beautiful areas we have in Rossendale and it will encourage people to get healthier as using these routes will be much, much easier. It will also complement our excellent Adrenaline Gateway facility,
“Rossendale will be a first class area for cycling and outdoor pursuits.
“It will boost public health and will boost the economy. I am very excited to see how this scheme develops.”
The cycle routes due for completion in 2018/19 will link together and complement existing cycling infrastructure to create a strategic network. Work is ongoing to identify the individual schemes needed to join up existing paths to create the full routes.