Cycling set for £150m boost to build on Tour de France legacy

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THE Government has today announced a wave of new cycling projects across the country totalling nearly £150m which is aimed at building on the legacy of staging the Tour de France’s Grand Départ in Yorkshire next year.

The investment will make roads safer for bikers in cities, with Leeds being handed the second highest amount nationally, and will also promote cycling in national parks.

A total of £77m will be divided between Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford and Norwich. The New Forest, Peak District, South Downs and Dartmoor areas will also each share a slice of £17m in funding for national parks. With local contributions, the total new funding for cycling is £148m over the next two years.

The funding is intended to allow the UK to rival nations renowned for their cycling networks such as Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.

The announcement includes a commitment to cut red tape that can stifle cycle-friendly road design and to encourage changes to the way roads are built or altered. Councils will be expected to up their game to deliver infrastructure that takes cycling into account from the design stage.

Mr Cameron said: “Following our success in the Olympics, the Paralympics and the Tour de France, British cycling is riding high – now we want to see cycling soar. Our athletes have shown they are among the best in the world and we want to build on that, taking our cycling success beyond the arena and on to the roads, starting a cycling revolution which will remove the barriers for a new generation of cyclists.”

The West Yorkshire scheme will see a £30m ‘super cycleway’ created with the 14-mile route running from east Leeds to the western fringes of the city before continuing into the centre of Bradford.

The Department for Transport has agreed to provide £18m, with a further £11.2m coming from local sources. It is the second largest slice of the Government’s funding after Manchester, which has secured £20m to create a city-wide cycle network.

It is hoped the Yorkshire cycleway will be opened as early as March 2015. Civic leaders hailed the project’s go-ahead as a significant boost to capitalising on Yorkshire’s role in staging the opening of next year’s Tour de France.

Leeds City Council leader Coun Keith Wakefield said: “With the worldwide focus which will come from hosting the Grand Départ, these plans will help ensure a lasting legacy for many years to come.”

A total of £5m in funding from the Government has been earmarked for the Peak District and will also see £2.5m injected from local sources. It will mean 3.5m residents in the surrounding urban areas of Sheffield, Greater Manchester, Derby, Nottingham and Stoke-on-Trent will have better access to the Peak District’s cycleways.

The scheme will provide four new routes, and aims to target public health in the cities near the national park.

A feasibility study will also look at creating a national cycleway broadly following the route of the HS2 rail line from London to Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester, linking communities and rail stations to work, schools and shops along with countryside and tourist attractions.

The arrival of the Tour De France in Yorkshire is seen as an unrivalled opportunity to showcase the region to a global audience. The race is expected to attract two million spectators and 2,000 journalists, bringing an estimated £100m boost. The route will set off from Leeds to Harrogate on July 5 before starting in York and finishing in Sheffield the following day.

But the Yorkshire Post revealed earlier this month that Whitehall officials have been engaged in a secret plot with a London-based tourism agency to remove Yorkshire’s name from the showpiece event and rebrand it as an all-England event.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has decided to market the event as the ‘England’ Grand Départ, in a clear snub to the Yorkshire tourism bosses who last year beat the Government’s own Scottish-based bid to secure the event for the region.

paul.jeeves@ypn.co.uk