Blackburn with Darwen council will receive £385,000 from the Department for Transport’s ‘Emergency Active Travel Fund’, an initiative to help local authorities make roads safer for cyclists and walkers to use.
As people have started to return to work and whilst capacity on public transport is limited, there is a concern that our roads could become more congested by an increase in car journeys.
During lockdown more people cycled and walked than ever before, for some it’s been a form of exercise, for others it’s been a safe, socially distanced way of travelling. To help continue the trend and enable more people to walk and cycle to work, school and the shops safely, the government has provided funding for local authorities to make immediate and long term improvements to roads.
The funding will be awarded in three phases and the council is delighted that the Department for Transport has now approved its plans for phase one. Work will commence in the next few weeks.
During phase one, a permanent safe walking and cycling route from Witton Park to Blackburn Town Centre will be created. The development includes new permanent cycle lanes; linking to National Cycle Route 6 (NCR6), on bus lanes along Preston Old Road and installation of Department for Transport approved social distancing signage.
A ‘Park & Ride/Stride’ facility will be provided at Witton Park and with improved links from the park to town centre we hope to encourage more employees and students to walk and cycle the last two miles of their daily commute.
The council intends to monitor usage by installing fixed speed indication devices that record vehicle types/cycles and pedestrian movement sensors on crossings along the route.
Councillor Zainab Rawat comments “This investment is very welcome news for the borough. Phase one of the development will help reduce traffic and increase road safety along this very busy stretch of road, which is especially important as three schools and Blackburn College are situated on this route. This fund has far wider benefits than just improving infrastructure; by making roads safer we are enabling more people to walk and cycle which can improve their health and wellbeing too”.
Plans for phases two and three are currently being developed.