Highways England has invested £1.3 million for a North Somerset Council project to create a new mile-long walking and cycling path between Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon, to the west of the M5.
The benefits will not only reduce traffic around M5 Junction 21 and on the motorway, but also bring about a growth in the use of sustainable transport, improved air quality and a healthier society in general, according to North Somerset Council.
Cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders will see more benefits over the next five years, with £169 million to be invested via Highways England’s new Users and Communities fund. The company is using the fund to improve services for users and neighbours of England’s motorways and major A-roads, including increasing the options people have for sustainable travel.
Since 2015, the Government company has invested more than £85 million towards the creation of 160 new and upgraded cycle ways across England, providing safe, attractive and accessible facilities for people to cycle for work, shopping and leisure
The new part of the new cycle way will remove those challenges and add to the mix of quiet lanes, dedicated cycle facilities and a crossing of the River Yeo on the route. It will also reduce the distance to travel between the towns by about four miles for people not in vehicles, and provide a vital link between existing routes.
Funding from Highways England has also realised safer journeys for cyclists around the A540 near Ellesmere Port in Cheshire, the A64 near Musley Bank and Tadcaster Bar and the M11 near London Stansted Airport, where cyclists commuting to the airport previously faced navigating the hazardous Junction 8.
Chris Heaton-Harris, Cycling and Walking Minister, said: “Across the country there has been a surge in the numbers of people getting on their bikes or walking as part of their daily exercise, and I want to build on this with our recently announced £2 billion investment to create a green legacy. This 24-mile coastal cycleway will provide a great space for cyclists, walkers and horse riders and help them boost their physical and mental health. Cutting the journey between Weston-super-Mare and Clevedon by four miles will also make this journey more accessible and help cut road traffic.”
Steven Wright, Users and Communities Fund lead at Highways England, said: “We are committed to significantly improving safety across our road network, and the new and improved cycle and footpaths will make it much easier and safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
“At Highways England, our work goes beyond operating, maintaining and improving roads. We are investing in the environment and communities surrounding our network, as well as the people travelling and working on it. We aim to address social and environmental issues and add real value to society. We are delighted to be partnering with North Somerset Council to realise this project-a glowing example of how this funding can make life better for communities living and working near our roads.”
North Somerset Council executive member for transport, Cllr James Tonkin, said: “This funding from Highways England is fantastic news. Building a Weston to Clevedon cycleway is a long-held aspiration for the council, first proposed back in 1979. It will give a quiet, safer route for cyclists, avoiding the busy A370 and M5 junction 21. It will be designed to accommodate disabled people and will have health and environmental benefits by encouraging an active lifestyle and reducing travel by car.”