Northumberland County Council has started a consultation on a new £500m active travel plan.
The North East Active Travel Strategy features plans for half a billion pounds worth of walking, wheeling, and cycling infrastructure across the north east of England.
The strategy, created by Transport North East, is not yet funded but it is hoped the plans could result in a 45% increase in active travel rates by 2035, reports the Northumberland Gazette.
The draft strategy claims this would prevent 80,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions and grow the North East’s economy by £350million per year.
Proposals were welcomed by active travel charity and National Cycle Network custodian Sustrans.
Sustrans’ North East partnerships manager Jonah Morris said: “It has the potential to transform the transport network in the North East, making it attractive and feasible for most people to walk, wheel or cycle short journeys.
“This could have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of the region, as well reduce traffic congestion, air pollution, and the cost of living.
“We will be working with the local authorities to extend our traffic-free paths in the region, upgrade the surface and access on these routes, and link in with the newly-developing on-road walking and cycling network.”
The strategy outlines improvements to pedestrian and cycle connections in towns across the county.
If the strategy is adopted, Alnwick will see new routes created and improvements to existing connections.
Amble will also see upgrades for pedestrians and cycle corridors, as will Ashington and Morpeth.
Railway-served towns such as Cramlington will see the linking of active travel routes to train stations, including the Northumberland Line stations under construction in Blyth and Bedlington.
Berwick-upon-Tweed will also see routes to the station improved and better connections between Tweedmouth and the town centre.
The strategy also plans for improved routes connecting rural and suburban areas around Ponteland with the town.
A behaviour change programme to aid healthcare providers in social prescribing and encouraging patients to improve their health and wellbeing is also included in the strategy.
North East-wide schemes to improve access to equipment and promote active travel will also be available to Northumberland residents under the plans.
Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee Martin Gannon said: “Sadly people in our region are the least physically active in England, which leads to poor health outcomes such as premature deaths and additional costs to services such as the NHS.
“We hope to tackle this by making major improvements to the active travel network so that it’s much easier, safer and more appealing for local people to enjoy active travel.
“The new draft strategy outlines our initial proposals but we want to hear what local people think.”
The final strategy will be published later in 2023 once approved by the North East Joint Transport Committee.