Residents in County Durham now have even more opportunities to get on their bikes or enjoy their surroundings on foot.
Durham County Council’s ambitious plan to create an active travel corridor in Newton Aycliffe is now complete following £650,000 in funding from the government’s Active Travel Fund.
The corridor runs alongside the A167 between Moore Lane and St Cuthbert’s Way, with links to Aycliffe Village. It also forms part of the Great North Cycleway, a long-distance national cycle route linking Blyth to Darlington.
Following a consultation with residents and businesses, improvements have seen footpaths widened for pedestrians and a separate two-way cycle lane offering people who live and work in the town a healthier travel alternative.
The government made £2 billion available for walking and cycling in 2020 as part of its Active Travel Fund, aiming to help change the way that people travel in response to the pandemic.
In addition to the funding for Newton Aycliffe, the council was also awarded almost £400,000 to improve walking and cycling infrastructure in and around Durham City as part of the fund.
Cllr James Rowlandson, Cabinet member for resources, investments and assets, said: “It is fantastic to see the creation of the active travel corridor in Newton Aycliffe. This is offering people who live and work in the town a sustainable form of transport that has many benefits for their health and wellbeing, as well the environment.
“The pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way in which people travel and exercise, with many families starting to exercise together. We hope that these enhancements will encourage more residents to make the most of their local area, enjoy the outdoors together and make active choices in how they commute to work.”
Paddy O’Connor, volunteer cycle leader for the council’s Cycle Durham programme, said: “It’s great to have an active travel corridor in Newton Aycliffe. It is a brilliant opportunity for the community, giving people of all ages the chance to explore the outdoors, get to know their local area and meet new people.
“Cycling is one of the easiest ways to become more active and offers many benefits to your physical and mental health. The corridor also makes it easier for people who perhaps haven’t cycled for some time as it will help to build their confidence and skills safely.”
Thomas Prentice, representative of the Aycliffe Business Park Community, said: “This is an excellent step forward in offering people a healthier commute to work and we are fully supportive of the improved walking and cycling infrastructure.
“The physical and mental wellbeing of our workforce is very important to us. Hopefully, this will encourage more people to travel on foot or by bike and help more commuters to interact on their way to or from work, offering social benefits as well as a healthy travel alternative.”
Residents will also be invited to have their say on the completed active travel corridor later this month, when the council launches a further consultation.
More information about other schemes funded through the Active Travel Grant is available at www.durham.gov.uk/activetravel