Multi-million pound investment for East Lancashire cycleway network

A new £5.85m cycle network is being developed over the next fours years to provide better links for those travelling around East Lancashire.

The East Lancashire Strategic Cycleway Network is to be developed over the next four years between 2015 and April 2019 and once completed will provide 23km of new and 95km of improved routes in the area. This will include enhanced links to the Enterprise Zone at Samlesbury and other key employment sites at Whitebirk, Blackburn Town Centre, Huncoat, Rising Bridge, Haslingden and along the Rossendale Valley.

As well as being used for commuting, these new cycleways will also provide great benefits for leisure, health and tourism users. The cycleway network will focus on connecting gaps in the existing networks, to maximise connectivity and deliver high-quality, end-to end cycle networks.

Running alongside this scheme (but funded separately) is the Connecting East Lancashire revenue project which will provide grants for businesses and community groups to improve their facilities for cyclists. It is hoped that the co-ordination of these two projects will provide a real travel alternative for communities and create a significant increase in the amount of people cycling in the area.

The Routes

There are four proposed routes identified within the first phase of the East Lancashire strategic cycleway:

  1. Weavers Wheel (Blackburn with Darwen)The Weavers Wheel is a 26km route encircling Blackburn town centre based on the Preston Guild Wheel, which attracts nearly 100,000 cyclists a year. As well as the main wheel there will be spurs radiating out to key employment locations such as Samlesbury Enterprise Zone and Whitebirk as well as spokes into Blackburn Town Centre providing direct access to local employment, education, retail and leisure opportunities by bike.
    Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council are leading on delivering the Weavers Wheel.View a plan of the Valley of Stone route.
  2. National Cycle Route 6 (Hyndburn and Rossendale)This route is mostly off road and runs in a roughly north-south direction from Accrington in the north to the Lancashire border at Stubbins near Ramsbottom in the south. It is 12km in length and also follows the line of a former railway, although large sections no longer exist such as around Haslingden. It has great potential for commuter use, especially to the employment areas on the west side of Haslingden close to the A56 and it will contribute towards the tourist economy by linking to the East Lancashire Railway and Irwell Sculpture Trail to the south. The route is also part of the wider National Cycle Network Route 6 that connects Watford to Keswick via Manchester and Preston.View a plan of the National Cycle Route 6.
  3. Valley of Stone (Rossendale)The Valley of Stone is16.5km long and connects Rawtenstall in the west to Waterfoot, Bacup and Whitworth to the Lancashire border with Rochdale at Healey Dell, as well as providing access to many employment sites along the Rossendale Valley. It is a largely off road route following a former railway line and when completed will provide a real sustainable travel alternative to using the busy roads which run along the main valley floor. The idea for the Valley of Stone has been put forward by the local community and although some sections are already open, the full potential of the route will only be realised once it is fully completed.
  4. Huncoat GreenwayThe Huncoat Greenway scheme will provide an off road cycle route between Huncoat Village and Accrington. Three sections of the Greenway are already in place but the central part of the route is currently missing which affects how useful it is as a route and limits the number of potential users. Completion of the Greenway will provide cyclists and pedestrians a continuous, safe, off road route just under 2km in length avoiding the busy A679 Burnley Road. The Greenway will connect housing areas to Huncoat Industrial Estate, other employment sites and nearby schools.View a plan of the Huncoat Greenway route.The creation of the East Lancashire Strategic Cycleway Network was proposed in the East Lancashire highways and transport masterplan, which was approved in February 2014. The masterplan sets out the transport priorities for East Lancashire including Blackburn with Darwen until 2021.

Priorities within the masterplan include:

Improving access to areas of economic growth and regeneration.
Providing better access to education and employment.
Improving people’s quality of life.

Building an effective cycle network linking towns, employment sites and communities is identified in the masterplan as a key project to be taken forward.

Earlier this year, £2.6m funding towards the creation of the cycleway was secured from the Lancashire Growth Deal through the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership. This is in addition to the local contributions of £3.0m from Lancashire County Council and £0.25m from Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, totaling £5.85m.

Next steps

Each of the 4 routes are different in terms of their characteristics, land ownership and the design issues they face. As a result the routes will be developed in sections and opened in stages leading to the completion of the overall network in 2019.

From summer 2015 onwards, designs for individual sections of the routes will be completed and displayed on the website. Local communities close to the routes will be consulted and asked for their opinions on the cycleway, what other features they would like to see alongside the main routes and where they would like to see additional links created in future.

Find out more

This page will be regularly updated with the latest progress on the East Lancashire Cycleway project. We will also be publishing a regular newsletter when work starts on the scheme.

For more information about the project please email: eastlancscycleway@lancashire.gov.uk

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