DfT Announces a £10 million Investment in Towpath Improvements

Issue date: 16th August 2013

On 12th August the Prime Minister and Department for Transport announced plans to spend £77 million from its City Cycle Ambition Grant Scheme to promote cycling in cities and national parks around the UK.  Details of which can be found in the Governement's press release and the full briefing.

Canal & River Trust says that of this funding, £10 million is to be spent on changing 37 miles of towpath in Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester into cycleways  (see press release).  The funds will enable the resurfacing of towpaths, installation of easy access ramps and upgrading of signage along the canal. In addition, some repairs will be made to canal bank walls. These planned works are intended to improve access to the canals with the addition of ramps opening up more of the canal network to pushchair and mobility users, whilst improved canal bank walls will make mooring in city centres easier for boaters.

Waterways affected are the eastern end of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, the Ashton Canal in Manchester, and the Birmingham & Fazeley, Birmingham, Worcester & Birmingham and Grand Union canals in Birmingham.  Whilst the additional cycle traffic will be unwelcome to some boaters and towpath walkers, the increased traffic on Leeds & Liverpool Canal in West Yorkshire and on the Ashton Canal should help reduce anti-social behaviour and intimidation felt by many in these areas.

The Department for Transport’s funding will also include money for a feasibility study into a cycle path broadly following the proposed HS2 rail route to look into how existing footpaths or cycle tracks could be joined up or upgraded to create a single route between London, Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. This could provide alternative traffic routes between those waterways to be crossed by the rail route.  The study and its conclusions would be separate from ongoing work on HS2 and will not be part of the HS2 Bill processes with no land-take or cost impacts.