Plans to put the Peak District at the heart of a national cycling network have been given the go-ahead by the Peak District National Park Authority. The strategy will see expansion of the area’s network of trails and signposted routes as well as an improvement in cycling specific facilities
The Matlock Mercury reports that members of the Peak District National Park Authority last week agreed to go ahead with the Wider Peak District Cycle Strategy. A document outlining the plans reads:
“This strategy isn’t just about cycling the Peak District’s network of trails, it’s about putting the Peak District at the heart of a national cycling network. It’s about connecting inspirational landscapes with major cities and enabling the Peak District to be a destination for cycling trips – significantly contributing to the visitor economy.”
The strategy divides the plans into four themes. Theme one is to increase the network of routes; theme two is to support cyclist infrastructure so as to provide a welcome to cyclists and to stimulate the cycling economy; theme three is to promote the Peak District cycling experience; and theme four is to develop sustainable transport packages.
Plans are divided into short, medium and long-term plans with the short term covering from now until 2016.
In terms of the network itself, there are already a number of green lanes, bridleways and multi user trails in place. However, gaps have been identified with different paths and trails not necessarily connected. There are very few signed, circular routes and it is also felt that businesses aren’t always aware of the needs of cyclists.
The aim is to create new traffic-free routes and add signs to join sections of the existing network and other places of interest. Iconic multi-day loops will also be created and there is also a view to develop a more connected, comprehensive and progressive mountain biking offering.
Funding has already been confirmed for a number of new routes and route extensions.
The Staffordshire Moorlands Link is a 23km stretch from Stoke-on-Trent to the Roaches and Waterhouses. It is off road between Stoke and Leek along a canal towpath and on road with signage for the remainder.
The Little Don Link is 19km and primarily off-road. It will link Winscar Reservoir with the Transpennine Trail and on from there to Beeley Wood in Sheffield.
The 8km Hope Valley Link runs between Hathersage and Castleton, linking to the Little John Route between Sheffield and Manchester which is signed by Sustrans.
The White Peak Loop is to be extended by 18km with the northern end of the High Peak Trail going on to Buxton and the southern end of the Monsal Trail going on to Matlock. The ultimate aim is to create a 60-mile circuit connecting the existing High Peak, Tissington and Monsal Trails into Buxton, Bakewell and Matlock.
There is also an intention to create cycle-friendly destinations. Focused on market towns, the aim is to provide secure or better cycle parking, traffic calming measures and clear route information so that these towns can serve as gateways to the Peak District for cyclists.
Earlier in the year, we reported that £10,000 of grants are being made available to Peak District businesses and other local organisations for the improvement of facilities for cyclists. It is hoped that this combined with the development of attractions along cycle routes and the provision of a web-based sustainable transport information service will also contribute towards making the Peak District a diverse, accessible cycling destination.