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COUNCIL bosses in Hyndburn were being encouraged to get to work and to business meetings by bike in a go-green initiative in March 1997. The idea won the backing of county hall and a series of special events was planned for the summer of 1997.

Lancashire County Council promised to hand over almost 20,000 to improve cycling routes and facilities across Hyndburn. The council wanted to cut down on pollution and congestion by encouraging more people to use pedal power. Proposals included improving safety conditions, more cycle routes and more measures to discourage car commuters.

The county council had promised to donate 5,000 to help pay for the Great Harwood to Rishton cycle route and 4,000 towards parking spaces for bikes in Hyndburn. The new bike route follows the line of the former railway.

Events lined up for the summer included a cycle fair in Accrington and the official opening of the Rishton to Great Harwood route. Bosses from Hyndburn Council cycled from Manchester to Accrington in June 1997. The event was followed by a week of activities aimed at encouraging town hall workers to take up biking. The events were being timed to coincide with national bike week 1997.

Lancashire County Council congratulated Hyndburn on the ground breaking project and promised to back any future proposals.

On the 19th January, 1998, it was announced that A new cycle route would link East Lancashire with the rest of the country.

The cycleway will go from Preston to Bury, via Hoghton, Blackburn, Rishton, Accrington and Haslingden. It was likely to go through Witton Park, Blackburn, along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and through Blackburn and Accrington town centres. It was one of four Lancashire routes proposed by Sustrans, the civil engineering charity which supports sustainable transport. The others will go from Preston to the Lake District, Southport and Wigan.

Some of the funding for the Lancashire routes was coming from a 42 million grant from the Millennium Commission. The rest was to come from other sources, and further bids for cash were to be made to the National Lottery through the Sports Council.

The Millennium funded route was to be completed by the year 2000 and the remaining sections should be finished by 2005.

Some routes took in vehicle-free paths, suitable for cyclists, walkers and in some cases, other road users such as those in wheelchairs. Others followed minor country roads and traffic-calmed areas through towns.

Tom McCabe, leader of the cycling team in the county surveyor's department, said: "We are hoping to encourage commuter cycling in the town centres by taking the routes through traffic free or traffic-calmed streets. In rural areas where possible they will be off-road, on upgraded farm tracks, with benefits for leisure cyclists."

The route from Blackburn to Church, passing through Rishton on the canal, was voted in the top ten cycle routes in the UK in 2006. Being described as one of the most breathtaking scenic views you can find within two minutes ride from Blackburn town centre.

It was officially launched by Hyndburn Borough Council in August 2006, 12 months later than promised, as the "Hyndburn Greenway". The link was offering traffic free routes from Accrington to Blackburn, with a link to Great Harwood on the former railway site. The Hyndburn Greenway was officially named as part of the national cycle route 6, which comprises 10,000 miles of traffic free routes, traffic calmed, or minor roads, and runs from London to Keswick in Cumbria.

First published on Tuesday 30 September 1997 in the Lancashire Evening Telegraph was this letter from A. Cook, of Elm Close.

Here is one reason why the so-called cycle racks in Rishton are under-used. They are cunningly built on a slope, so your bike slides gracefully into the gutter. The next lorry passing in either direction will then be forced to drive over it. But if we can make our bikes disappear into thin air every time the cycle lane ends abruptly, we should not need cycle racks anyway. It's a crafty plan to stop us getting bored.

HIGHWAYS bosses set aside 25,000 for two traffic safety schemes on Friday 16th January 1998. The projects are part of a 1.4 million package of safety improvements for the county's roads over the last 12 months. But there are still more than 400 roads waiting for improvements and the County Council is calling for more Government funding. The aim is to reduce the number of accidents and injuries on the roads and work is likely to start on the two projects within the next two months.

Traffic calming costing 10,000 was to be introduced on Blackburn Road in Rishton. The work is the second phase of a long running project aimed at increasing safety for cyclists in the town.

Councillor Toon added: "These spending proposals are the best provision that can be made within the limited resources available. "I am pleased that we have been able to maintain the level of resources to provide alternatives to the private car".

References

Lancashire Evening Telegraph, 13 March 1997, 30th September 1997, 16th January 1998.