Work starts on Preston cycle route

Michael Hunt

Work is underway on a new £750,000 footpath and cycleway in Preston that will link the city's Fishergate Centre and train station with Preston Junction Local Nature Reserve and Penwortham Spur.

The project is being funded by the North West Development Agency and led by Lancashire County Council's Remade in Lancashire programme.

The route starts at Fishergate car park, cuts through Avenham and Millar Parks, crossing the river at Avenham Viaduct, and then continues along the route of the former east Lancashire railway line between Preston and Penwortham Mill.

Cllr Tim Ashton, cabinet member for planning and the environment at Lancashire County Council, said: "This project is part of a major planned investment in Preston by the county council to help regenerate the area. It will create an attractive alternative way to access Preston on a bike or on foot rather than by car. The scheme will benefit commuters and visitors to the area, providing direct links to Preston Station and the Fishergate Centre, as well as the green spaces at Avenham and Miller Park.

"It will also form an important part of the Guild Wheel cycle route, a 21-mile greenway which promises to be one of the main cycling routes in the country. The county council is investing £1.5m in the Guild Wheel, and is leading the scheme in partnership with Preston City Council and other partners."

Richard Tracey, head of environmental quality at the NWDA, added: "The Remade programme represents a major investment by the NWDA in Brownfield land regeneration in Lancashire and has made significant progress in transforming a number of areas. Once complete, this route will link key transport and visitor infrastructure in the city as part of the wider Guild Wheel initiative."

Lancashire County Council's Remade programme has developed the project in partnership with Preston City Council, South Ribble Borough Council, sustainable transport charity Sustrans, Groundwork and Mid-Pennine Arts. The design was drawn up following consultations with local residents and other stakeholders.

Work on the route being carried out by contractors JN Bentley includes widening, resurfacing and extending the existing path and the provision of additional seating areas and pieces of public art. The NWDA said overgrown plants will also be removed to open up the site, improve views and enhance the existing wildlife habitats.

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Why are Britains cycle routes so narrow? When they are invariably shared by families walking, with prams perhaps, and the dreaded dog that isn’t kept on a short lead, if indeed a lead at all, they should surely be the width of a single track road. We clearly have a long, long way to go to catch up with the likes of Finland, Sweden, Holland, Belgium and Germany.

By Allan Rasmay

You must remember that much of the routes upgraded to cycle paths, have for many years been enjoyed by pedestrians and their dogs. Although most cyclists are considerate with pedestrians, some seem to think they own the pathway and are entitled to ride at any speed they wish. Walk down these paths for a short time and it becomes quite obvious that many riders will spend a fortune on equipment but only the minority actually buy and use a bell!

By Peter Smith