A plan to convert a disused Ulverston railway line into a cycle route has been given a boost after it was raised in the House of Commons by local MP John Woodcock.
After asking a question about the government’s Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy, Mr Woodcock discussed the proposed development between Ulverston canal and Greenodd roundabout during transport questions: “will he publish the evidence this department has commissioned which will show that the current levels of investment [into cycling] are not going to sufficient to meet the target and when he recognises that, will he direct his attention towards the disused railway that Highways England want to turn into a cycle lane between Ulverston canal and Greenodd roundabout?”
In response, the minister said: “I think he is referring, Mr Speaker, to the Morecambe Bay cycle way, and what I would say about that is the Government does recognise the benefits of schemes like the Morecambe Bay cycle way which may be able to provide opportunities to increase active travel and provide significant benefit to the local economy as well as to health and the environment as cycling does. We have recently provided over twenty million pounds of support to Sustrans, I might add, to improve stretches of the national cycle network. I am very happy to meet him if he wishes. The reality is we are putting significant investment into cycling across the country.”
The proposed reforms to the route are supported by Cumbria County Council, and forms part of a proposal by Highways England to offer cyclists and pedestrians alternative routes to the main roads, particularly away from the A590.
A feasibility study into the proposed route took place two years ago and surrounding landowners have been consulted. Next steps include gathering support for the project in order to commission an internal design study to move the project on to the next stage.
If the project goes ahead it is reckoned that it will bring significant economic benefits to the area, along with benefits to mental and physical health and the local environment as it would encourage greater numbers to shun their cars in favour of cycling.
Speaking after transport questions, John said: “As well as helping residents get about by bike more easily, the Morecambe Bay cycle way can help increase visitor numbers to the area – but at the moment far too much of the route involves travelling on busy roads.
“If the government and local authorities are serious about promoting the huge health and environmental benefits of cycling, they need to do much more to provide safer and more relaxed routes for bikes. Formally converting the disused railway line from Ulverston canal to Greenodd roundabout would provide a great alternative to a particularly busy stretch of the A590 so I was pleased to hear government ministers acknowledging the importance of the route in the House of Commons today. It is a good step forward in our bid to get this scheme prioritised for investment.”