The Monsal Trail in the Peak District has boosted cycling. Photo: Mick Garratt CC-BY-SA-2.0

The Monsal Trail in the Peak District has boosted cycling. Photo: Mick Garratt CC-BY-SA-2.0

Four English national parks will get a £16.8m boost to encourage cycling under measures announced by the UK Government.

The Peak District, Dartmoor, South Downs and New Forest authorities will further contribute a total of £9m towards schemes that include cycleways railway station links and family-friendly routes.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the Westminster Government was providing £77m overall to schemes involving eight major English cities and conurbations as well as looking at the possibility of a cycle path close to the route of the proposed second high-speed train line HS2.

The Peak District National Park Authority and partners in the Pedal Peak District project are chipping in with £2.5m to top up £5m allocated from central funds for four new cycleways.

Plans produced with Derbyshire County Council and other local authorities include: the White Peak Loop, 11 miles long; the Little Don Link, 12 miles; the Staffordshire Moorlands Link, 14 miles and the Little John Route, including the Hope Valley Link, which will be three miles long.

In Dartmoor, £4.4m and a local contribution of £3m will be used for major improvements to 93 miles of cycleways, with a further 86 miles benefitting from smaller upgrades such as improved signs. The focus of the scheme is new family-friendly routes to and through the park, supported by cycling hubs and provisions for access by those with limited mobility.

England’s newest national park in the South Downs will get Department for Transport cash of £3.8m and will contribute a further £1.3m for leisure cycling facilities for the 5 million inhabitants of the park.

The Government wants to encourage cycling

The Government wants to encourage cycling

The scheme will improve access to the national ark from major rail stations. 55km of new routes will be built across England’s most densely populated national park.

Trevor Beattie, chief executive of the South Downs National Park Authority, said: “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.”

The New Forest will receive £3.6m from the Government and will add £2.2m for a new network of cycle docking stations that will allow people to cycle between attractions, communities and transport hubs, supported by a new family cycling centre next to Brockenhurst station.

Julian Johnson, chairman of the New Forest National Park Authority, said: ‘This scheme will mean that leaving your car at home and choosing to cycle to and around the national park will be much more appealing for families.

“This is good news for our health, in reducing traffic and for protecting this nationally-important landscape.”

The Government said a feasibility study into a cycle path broadly following the HS2 route will look into how existing footpaths or cycle tracks could be joined up or upgraded to create a single route between London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester.

David Cameron: wants to see cycling soar. Photo:  Moritz Hager/World Economic Forum CC-BY-SA-2.0

David Cameron: wants to see cycling soar. Photo: Moritz Hager/World Economic Forum CC-BY-SA-2.0

It said this could give benefits to people living along the HS2 route as well as encouraging tourism.

“The study and its conclusions would be separate from ongoing work on HS2. This will give plans for cycle paths the flexibility to work to their own timetable.

“It will not be part of the HS2 Bill processes with no land-take or cost impacts,” a Government spokesperson added.

Other areas getting a cash boost for cycling are Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, Norwich and Leeds.

Yorkshire will host part of the Tour de France next year.

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 on to 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.”

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