A PROJECT worth £8million has been drawn up to get East Lancashire riders back on their bikes, and ease pressure on the county’s roads.

Ambitious proposals, as part of the six-year Connecting East Lancashire initiative, include a ‘Weaver’s Wheel’ of new routes, fanning out around Blackburn, and a scenic course through Rossendale’s ‘Valley of Stone’.

An upgrade is also planned for a national cycling route, running from Accrington to Ramsbottom, and a ‘green- way’ would be created for Huncoat.

Around £1.83million is being sought from the Department for Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund by Lancashire County Council and Black- burn with Darwen Council for the scheme, with the remainder mainly coming from either the Local Growth Fund and authorities across East Lanc- ashire.

The bid has the support of British Cycling, which est-imates that six out of 10 job seekers can reach employ-ment centres on their bik-es.

Rail station travel plans, particularly focusing on Blackburn, Rosegrove, Bur- nley Manchester Road, Nelson and Colne, will emph- asise the ways commuters can cycle, or walk to catch services.

Elsewhere, the successful Connect travel website for Blackburn with Darwen will be extended to cover public transport informat-ion for the rest of East Lancashire.

Dominic Harrison, Black-burn with Darwen’s public health director, supporting the bid, said: “To increase the levels of cycling to the regional average would make a significant contrib-ution to improving the health of the local populat-ion, as well as having wider social, environmental and economic benefits.”

Stuart Sugarman, Ross-endale Council’s business director, said: “The council has worked closely with the county council and partn-ers to promote the devel-opment of the ‘Valley of Stone’ greenway, which will form a strategic cycling spine linking Rawtenstall with Rochdale.”

The national cycling route will also run across the west of the Rossendale valley, thr- ough parts of Haslingden, en-route to Ramsbottom.

The ‘Weaver’s Wheel’, in Blackburn, will link the town centre with more than a dozen locations, including Samlesbury, Mellor Brook, Feniscowles, Oswaldtwistle, Great Harwood, Salesbury and Rishton.