Friday, 13 July 2007

Cycling schemes

One of the features I thought would be good to include is to show you some of the improvements to the 'cycle network' that make up part of my route. Then I realised, there are none. Between Brownhill and Blackburn town centre or Little Harwood there is not one initiative that helps cycling.

In its cycling strategy Blackburn with Darwen council states:
"The Council plans to develop a number of schemes to link residential areas to the whole
range of needed facilities including employment, leisure, education, retail and health in a
traffic free environment. Such schemes are essential in widening choice for citizens and
promoting alternative sustainable travel”

None of the schemes include the A666 Whalley New Road or Bastwell, which is my shortest commuting route. It is acknowledged in their strategy document that there are shortcomings to on-road cycling facilities and that the busy A6119 Whitebirk Drive, which is my alternative, is not suitable for cyclists.

One scheme that has seen some activity in recent years is improvement to the canal towpath alongside the Leeds and Liverpool canal. The canal was opened in 1816 and now a section past Blackburn makes up part of National Cycle Route number 6. This provides a through route from east to west across the town. As an excuse to warm the muscles in the incessant rain we're having this July, I decided to forego the normal route home and explore this path towards Rishton. In the photo you can see we're quickly into the countryside on what is a reasonable metalled path. Commuting from Rishton to the east side of town at Whitebirk is easily achieved in 15 minutes although mudguards (fenders for our American readers) are advised, since there are some areas of standing water and the occasional pothole to contend with. From Rishton you can continue to Accrington or take a disused railway line to Great Harwood.

I've no idea how many cyclists use this route. I didn't encounter anyone apart from a couple of walkers exercising their dogs. From these communities, this route provides a great way to get to Blackburn without too much effort since it is flat all the way.

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