ANOTHER £1.8million has been earmarked by the Department of Transport to get East Lancashire residents back on their bikes.

Several key schemes should get into gear after the bulk of funding for ‘Connecting East Lancashire’, a pioneering cycling initiative, was confirmed.

Around £6million alone is set to be spent on the ‘Weaver’s Wheel’, a network of proposed lanes fanning out around Blackburn in every direction, to neighbouring Hyndburn, Ribble Valley and South Ribble.

And a scenic ‘Valley of Stone’ cycleway, from Rawtenstall to Rochdale, celebrating Rossendale’s quarrying heritage, can also now be completed.

County council leader Coun Jennifer Mein said: “This additional funding is very welcome and will enable us not just to promote the cycling network but to encourage more sustainable ways of getting around.

“By linking major residential areas and places of employment, the network will help to boost prosperity by giving people better access to job and study opportunities.”

Coun Maureen Bateson, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s regeneration executive member, said: “We look forward to working with partners to extend our successful CONNECT project across East Lancashire.

“Cycling is not only a great way to keep fit but sustainable transport is also important in terms of people’s access to employment and jobs.”

And commenting on the Rossendale scheme, Coun Andy MacNae, the borough’s regeneration cabinet member, added: “This funding will allow us to develop the Rawtenstall to Rochdale Greenway and so give people the opportunity to cycle, walk or ride through the valley whilst keeping off our busy roads.

“This is really important for children cycling to school and adults cycling to work, making for a much safer and more enjoyable journey whilst also reducing road congestion."

Plans have also been drawn up for a greenway through Huncoat and improvements to cycle paths stretching from Haslingden down to Ramsbottom, also through Helmshore, Accrington and Stubbins.

Last week the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership secured £3.39million towards the same work as part of their successful Local Growth Fund bid.