Published February 17, 2021 at 18:00
New paths have been created in Haslingden as part of a major ongoing project to link towns in East Lancashire with safe cycle routes.
The East Lancashire Cycleway Network aims to transform cycling in the area, making it easier for people to use their bikes to access opportunities by improving links to workplaces, schools, shops and services.
The £7.5m scheme is part of the £234m Growth Deal to support economic growth secured by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership’s successful bid to the government’s Growth Fund, and will also receive contributions from Lancashire County Council and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.
A new section of high quality path, running parallel to the A56 Haslingden bypass, has been created over the last year thanks to £1.3m funding from Highways England, on land which is in the process of being dedicated to the project by Rossendale Borough Council and local company Winfields Outdoors. It provides a better route for part of National Cycle Route 6 which previously followed Blackburn Road.
The 1km of mostly off-road cycleway links Carr Hall Street, off Hud Hey Road, to South Shore Street near Haslingden town centre. Much of the route consists of a new 3m wide path which has been paved with a flexible porous material and, along with improvements to drainage, made what was previously a muddy narrow path far more attractive and easy to use. An entirely new section of path has also been created between Prinny Hill Road and South Shore Street through local woodland creating a new link onto the cycleway a short distance from the town centre.
A number of further improvements have also been made nearby. On St Crispin Way a 200m section of shared use footway/cycleway segregates cyclists and pedestrians from a busy road used by many HGVs with a new crossing point linking paths on the East and South sides of the road. Improvements have also been made where St Crispin Way meets Grane Road with paths being widened and an existing pedestrian crossing being upgraded to a Toucan crossing to allow the route to be shared by pedestrians and cyclists.
County Councillor Keith Iddon, Lancashire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “I’m very pleased to see that more good progress has been made over the past year with the East Lancashire Cycleway Network, which is already providing people with better options for sustainable travel as more and more sections are completed.
“As well as being a great place for people to ride their bikes, walk, and exercise, this new section of the route in Haslingden improves travel options for people who work in the area, providing a good link from businesses on Hud Hey Road and Carr Hall industrial estate, to the town centre and neighbouring residential areas.
“I understand the timing of these improvements has been particularly welcomed by people living nearby due to the restrictions required in response to the pandemic, providing a safe place to exercise near their homes, with the much wider path allowing people to socially distance.”
Alyson Barnes, leader of Rossendale Borough Council, added: “Rossendale is already a key destination for cyclists thanks to routes such as the Mary Towneley Loop, and the mountain biking trails in Lee Quarry Cragg Quarry which attract visitors from across the country.
“The East Lancashire Cycleway Network will add to this by making cycling a great option for many everyday local journeys, whether people use it to commute to work or education, visit their local shops, or just get out for some exercise.
“The new section of path which was recently completed in Haslingden is of really high quality and a great example of what we’re trying to achieve with a network of safe, mostly off-road routes connecting communities throughout Rossendale and east Lancashire.”
Kristian Marsh, Highways England’s route manager for Lancashire, said: “Highways England has welcomed working in partnership with Lancashire County Council to help deliver this new addition to the cycle network in East Lancashire. Improving facilities for cyclists is one of our key aims and we hope that local cyclists will enjoy making good use of this newly improved route to access the wider cycle network in the area.”
Signing is due to be improved in the coming months to help people find this newly improved section. Further improvements to the Accrington to Ramsbottom section of the cycleway are due to take place at Baxenden and Rising Bridge, Helmshore Viaduct, and Irwell Vale over the coming months.
Once completed the East Lancashire Cycleway Network will be made up of the following three routes in Lancashire, as well as the Weaver’s Wheel in Blackburn.
• 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.
The cycleway network has been proposed due to the nature of the valley roads in East Lancashire, which provide significant challenges when it comes to reducing the risks for cyclists, requiring on and off road solutions.
The network aims to make it more attractive for people to cycle for short journeys, and provide a good alternative to using the car while helping to reduce pressure on the roads as the local economy grows in future.