Blackburn is among several communities in the North West that will benefit from a near-£50 million investment for active travel schemes.

A total of 39 new cycling and walking schemes will be delivered across the region as part of a national effort to generate up to 16m more walking and cycling trips per year across the country, and help more than 800,000 children on their way to school.

Following extensive consultation with local authorities, Blackburn is one of the areas which will benefit from a share of £47.7m  in the latest round of the Active Travel Fund.

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The country-wide £200m package, announced in February, will deliver 121 miles of new cycle track, 77 miles of new paths and greenways, and initiatives to make streets safer around 130 schools.

Active travel is also estimated to bring a £36.5 billion boost for the economy per year through increased high street spending and better access to jobs, delivering on their priority to grow the economy.

Councillor Quesir Mahmood, the Blackburn with Darwen council’s deputy leader and executive member for growth and development, said: “We have been awarded £157 thousand to further develop and design schemes that will help to improve access and uptake of walking and cycling in the Borough.

"This funding will focus on improving access and connectivity to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in particular. It forms part of a much wider programme of work that we have ongoing around a Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan that the Council hopes will lead to long term changes in the Borough, and making walking and cycling the natural first choice method for shorter journeys.”

Transport secretary Mark Harper said: “We want to make sure everyone across the country can choose cheaper, greener, and healthier travel, while we continue to support our high streets and local businesses.

“This £200m investment will improve road safety, ease congestion across the North West and on public transport, and ultimately improve the health and wellbeing of the millions of people choosing active travel.”

National Active Travel commissioner and former Olympic cyclist, Chris Boardman, added: “By giving millions of people freedom of choice to walk, wheel or cycle for everyday trips, this funding will help us improve public health, tackle climate change and give hundreds of thousands of children the independence to travel safely under their own steam.

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“Now our focus is working with councils to get these schemes built swiftly.

"We’ll be working together to ensure the projects are well designed and effective, so that they bring maximum benefits to communities and help improve lives nationwide.”

The winning projects have demonstrated they provide people with attractive choices to use cycling and walking for local journeys and do not include any Low Traffic Neighbourhood schemes.

Blackburn will receive a proposed amount of £157,270 of the funding, while other successful authorities in the North West include Cheshire East, Cheshire West & Chester, and Cumbria County Council.