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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Ravenglass to Barrow bike route ‘would be huge boost for area’

MILLIONS of pounds could flood into the south Copeland economy if plans to create a new cycleway in the area go ahead.

The sustainable transport charity Sustrans is working on route 72, a trail in the north of the borough, and says it aims to extend it from Ravenglass to Barrow.

Nicky Wingfield, area manager for Cumbria at Sustrans, said: “At the moment there is a very long term aim to develop route 72 further.”

The cycleway would mean cyclists between Bootle and Sellafield could avoid precarious stretches of the A595 such as Muncaster Hill.

“It is early days, and we would have to hold consultations with landowners and prepare feasibility studies but we believe this would be great for the area.”

Ms Wingfield said research on Hadrian’s Cycleway, a 174-mile long trail along route 72 from Ravenglass to South Shields, suggests surrounding areas have benefited to the tune of £6m and “a couple of hundred full time jobs”.

“This has not just been something thought up by us, this is something that we know local people want and it would be very much driven by local communities,” she said.

Sustrans, which is working in conjunction with Natural England and both Copeland borough council and Cumbria County Council on routes in the county, would need to secure funding to extend the route.

“I would stress this is a very long-term aim, and in terms of timescale, I would suggest around five years,” said Ms Wingfield. Peter Frost-Pennington, manager at popular tourist hotspot Muncaster Castle and a keen cyclist himself, said the route would be a huge boost for the area.

“It would be absolutely fantastic for the area and the quicker they do it the better,” he said.

“Cycling is brilliant and interest in it has really grown over the last few years.

“The A595 is a reasonable route for cyclists but there are a few really nasty bits.

“I don’t see why London is the only place that can have the ‘Boris (Johnson) bikes’ scheme, I could easily envisage people getting the train here, hiring a bike and cycling along the coast.

“It’s great exercise even for old codgers like me!”

Sustrans is also working on a route in Morecambe Bay using money from the County Council’s Coastal Communities Fund.

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