/ News / £5m cycling network will link towns in East Lancashire

Cycling in East Lancashire will be transformed thanks to an investment of over £5m to complete three strategic routes linking major towns.

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 Masterplan for the area.

Lancashire County Council yesterday (Tuesday) agreed to a four-year spending programme which will see the county council invest £3m, to match the £2.6m received by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership thanks to a successful bid to the government’s Local Growth Fund.

In Lancashire, this will allow the completion of:

  • The ‘Valley of Stone’ – a mostly off-road route linking Whitworth and Rawtenstall through the Rossendale valley.
  • 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 via unused and derelict former-industrial sites.

In Blackburn:

  • 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.

County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Improving cycling routes in East Lancashire is one of the most important features of the masterplan agreed earlier this year, and I’m very pleased we’re already delivering on this commitment.

“The nature of the valley roads in East Lancashire provide significant challenges when it comes to reducing the risks for cyclists, which will require on and off road solutions.

“The larger of these new routes will provide a direct link between towns, while being mostly off-road and picturesque. This will therefore be attractive for a variety of purposes – from commuters who want their journey to be direct, to tourists interested in a scenic route, walkers, runners and anyone who wants a traffic-free way to make a short journey. They will encourage healthier lifestyles while benefitting the wellbeing of the community as a whole.

“We have learnt through experience that such routes encourage and attract people to the area while stimulating pockets of economic regeneration around the routes. In addition people pay to participate in activities by, for example, buying a bicycle.

“This is very much a win-win situation because it’s good for the environment, people’s health and wellbeing and the local economy.”

Further work will be carried out by Lancashire County Council and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council to develop the business case for the East Lancashire Strategic Cycle Network to confirm that the project will deliver value for money, a necessary step to draw upon the Growth Deal funding.

Blackburn with Darwen Councillor Maureen Bateson, executive member for regeneration, said: “Our planned development of the local cycle network will complement the multi million pound investment in our bus and rail networks enabling our residents and visitors more attractive sustainable travel choices to access employment, education and leisure opportunities.

“By knitting together existing and planned cycle ways across the borough 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 the borough.”

The cycle routes due for completion in 2018/19 will link together and complement existing cycling infrastructure to create a strategic network, and the next step will be to identify the individual schemes needed to join up existing paths to create the full routes.

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