VISIONS of turning the Lake District into a world-class cycling hub were halted after a bid for Government money failed.
The Cycle Lakes proposals would have seen a complete family-friendly cycle route through the area from Keswick to Newby Bridge, fed by bike-carrying bus and boat services.
Officials at Cumbria County Council and the Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) hoped to achieve this with a grant from the Department of Transport, given out as part of the Prime Minister’s drive to promote the activity.
But the application was unsuccessful, and the £17million pot will instead be shared between the Peak District, New Forest, South Downs and Dartmoor National Parks.
Alistair Kirkbride, Sustainable Transport Advisor at the LDNPA, who joint managed the bid, said: “Building on the GoLakes Travel programme launched last year, which saw improvement to the Windermere west shore path, we wanted to put the Lake District on the world stage as a brilliant area for recreation cycling, and open it up to more people. So it is frustrating that we did not get the money. It would have benefited walkers and those with pushchairs too, not just bikers.”
Richard Greenwood, Cumbria Tourism’s Head of Policy and Research, added that staff at the tourist body were ‘obviously disappointed’ with the news.
And Warwick Pickering, owner of Bowness bike hire and tour company, Electric Mountain, described it as a ‘great shame’.
“Really good in-roads have been made into improving the network so far, so it would be sad if this stopped the progress,” he said. “The new routes would have expanded our tours, so I hope that somehow they do still go ahead.”
But despite the outcome, Mr Kirkbride said there were still positives to come from the experience.
He said: “We are now in a really good position to carry on with a lot of the planned schemes, and will try to find other sources of funding. And all sorts of people have now approached us to say they are interested in talking about different ideas, so the bid has shone the light on to the possibilities of what can be done. It has got people talking about biking again.”
And the county council’s cycling officer Mark Brierley, who managed the submission with Mr Kirkbride, said: “At the moment we are still waiting for formal feedback from the Department of Transport, and there have been hints that they could announce more funding in the near future. We will continue to work on the proposals ready for that window of opportunity.”