South Downs National Park to get £5m funding boost for cycling

Southease Village
Southease Village

Cycling in the South Downs National Park has been given a £5m boost thanks to the Government and local sources.

The announcement is part of the largest ever single cash injection into cycling with projects being announced around the country.

On the way to Southease along the South Downs Way.

On the way to Southease along the South Downs Way.

The news was welcomed by Lewes MP Norman Baker who said the sport was good for your health and added the South Downs were a beautiful part of the country to enjoy on a bike.

Mr Baker said: “Cycling is great for the environment and great for one’s health with those who cycle having a longer life expectancy than those who do not.

“That is why I have focused a lot of my efforts on extolling the benefits of cycling and today is yet another piece of great news for cycling enthusiasts.

“The South Downs National Park is a beautiful part of the country and I really cannot think of a better way of experiencing it than on a bike.”

Money will be spent on a network of core cycling routes into and around the South Downs National Park.

It will receive more than £5m of investment, with £3.8m coming from the Coalition Government and £1.3m provided locally.

In total 55km of new routes will be built across England’s most visited and densely populated national park.

Cycling for all abilities is a key theme with improvements planned to existing routes in Hampshire, extensions to long established routes in West Sussex and extensions to long established routes and the creation of new recreational routes out of Brighton and around East Sussex.

One of the main aims of this investment will be to improve cycling routes to and from railway stations so that the community have better access to sustainable transport links.

The South Downs National Park has been working with highway authorities, West Sussex County Council, Hampshire County Council, Brighton and Hove City Council and East Sussex County Council, to develop a package of schemes that can be delivered within a two year period.

Consultation has also taken place with those who enjoy cycling in and around the National Park.

Chief executive of the South Downs National Park Authority Trevor Beattie said: “This is a great success for the South Downs National Park and for all those who love to walk or cycle through it.

“The South Downs is England’s most visited and most densely populated National Park and this investment is designed to provide a high quality cycling experience for cyclists of all abilities, and to complement and give access to the existing network of advisory and off-road routes.

“The National Park Authority has many plans to create new and safer routes, both for commuters and for people cycling for pleasure.

“Now we have the money to put those plans into practice.

“We will be working closely with the local highways authorities and other organisations to take full advantage of this major new funding.”

Around the country the Department of Transport will be spending £77m which will be divided between Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford and Norwich, while the New Forest, Peak District, South Downs and Dartmoor will each share a slice of £17m funding for national parks.

With local contributions, the total new funding for cycling is £148m between now and 2015.

The announcement includes a commitment from the Government to cut red tape that can stifle cycle-friendly road design and to encourage changes to the way roads are built or altered.

Councils will be expected to up their game to deliver infrastructure that takes cycling into account from the design stage.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “Following our success in the Olympics, the Paralympics and the Tour de France, British cycling is riding high - now we want to see cycling soar.

“Our athletes have shown they are among the best in the world and we want to build on that, taking our cycling success beyond the arena and onto the roads, starting a cycling revolution which will remove the barriers for a new generation of cyclists.

“This government wants to make it easier and safer for people who already cycle as well as encouraging far more people to take it up and business, local government, developers, road users and the transport sector all have a role to play in helping to achieve this.”