Civic leaders are delighted that Gloucestershire has been awarded £12.8 million from the Government to improve cycling routes.
The full bid of £12.822m to the Levelling Up Fund has been awarded to support significant transport improvements through Gloucester city, connecting what has been known as “the missing link of cycle routes” in the heart of the county.
leaders say the funding will breathe life into the vision to connect the recently enhanced Gloucester and Sharpness Canal Towpath with the A40 West Cheltenham Transport Improvement Scheme, via Gloucester and the B4063 cycle path.
This would ultimately provide a 26-mile cycle ‘spine’ through the county from Stroud to Bishops Cleeve, allowing the county council to create a substantial local cycling and walking network, helping people to get about sustainably in residential areas.
Council leader Mark Hawthorne (Con, Quedgeley) said: “I’m absolutely delighted by the news Gloucestershire will receive a significant boost to sustainable transport.
“Our long term goals to tackle climate change and reduce carbon emissions must include sustainable modes of travel, and I believe building a substantial and safe network for cyclists and pedestrians is going to transform our county.
“This funding allows us to fully fund these ambitions for Gloucestershire’s future.”
Liberal Democrat group leader Paul Hodgkinson (Bourton-on-the-Water and Northleach) said he too was delighted to see the money coming to the county.
He also thanked council officers for putting together the winning bid.
“This funding should provide a critical link for cyclists in Gloucester, or even those eventually wanting to cycle through the city from Stroud or Cheltenham,” he said.
“With funding secured for this missing link, the Conservative administration needs to find the money for the long overdue route between Bishops Cleeve and Cheltenham and must work with all the districts to create a comprehensive cycling network within our villages, towns and city, making cycling safer for those shorter journeys away from this ‘cycling spine’.”
Labour group leader John Bloxsom (Rodborough) said the funding was welcome but firm plans are needed for other areas forming the promised 26 mile ‘spine route’ across the county.
“In September the Conservative Cabinet ignored protests and withdrew £435,000 of funding from the long-awaited Cheltenham to Bishops Cleeve Cycleway,” he said.
“Labour calls on the cabinet to reinstate this cut and deliver on other planned routes through the DfT Active Travel Fund, Sustrans and its own capital resources. It is crucial that County supports residents wanting to cycle more”.
And Councillor Chris McFarling, (Green, Sedbury) said it was brilliant news for the county.
“It’s the best way to get the biggest bang for your buck by putting cycle paths in urban areas,” he said.
“Of course, as ever, we lose out in the rural areas because we don’t have the numbers or density of population.
“Nevertheless, if it can reduce carbon emissions in Gloucester it’s good in my book because we all need to play our part.”
The bid supports improved access to and from the docks area of Gloucester, a former industrial area which has transformed into a thriving and dynamic mixed community of businesses, visitors and residents.
It will also link the docks to the city centre and beyond through a sustainable travel corridor, helping students and employees to access the hospital, university and local colleges from residential areas.
The cycle path will complete a ‘missing link’, connecting the recently upgraded Gloucester and Sharpness Canal Towpath through the city centre to Cheltenham via already committed funding.
This will be complemented by addressing a pinch point on the Gloucester Southwest Bypass (GSWB) at Llanthony Road which will result in improved journey times for the 25,000 vehicles that use it daily.