CYCLISTS in Arun have welcomed the move to radically overhaul the area’s cycle routes across the South Downs.
Six major routes in West Sussex are to be extended after a successful bid was made for Government funding.
More than £5.1m is being invested in a network of cycle paths into and around the South Downs National Park, with planned improvements in Arundel, Barnham and Slindon outlined.
The announcement followed a joint bid was made by the South Downs National Park Authority, West Sussex County Council and other neighbouring authorities to the Department of Transport for the funding.
The aim is to encourage safe cycling for all abilities and improve routes to and from railway stations.
The plan would see a new stretch of cycle path installed from Arundel railway station, in The Causeway, all the way to the Wildfowl and Wetland Centre, in Mill Road.
Other improves will create a new route from Barnham railway station to Bignor Hill, via Fontwell.
Peter Wilson, secretary of the Arun-Adur Cyclists’ Touring Club has welcomed the investment.
He said: “I think it would be a great plan.
“We’re so far behind countries like Holland and even France when it comes to safe cycle routes.
“You go to France, for instance, and their cycle paths are hard surface where as in the UK we need major investment to improve many of our routes.
“There are cycle paths, yes, but many are in an atrocious condition. So we’re very happy to hear that there is a scheme to improve links around the South Downs.”
West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, Pieter Montyn, said: “This is fantastic news for cyclists who want to get out on their bikes in the countryside safely.
“We believe extending these routes will encourage more people to get out in the saddle and ride.
“The improvements in cycle routes near train stations can only boost sustainable travel too.”
The Department of Transport will provide £3.8m towards improving cycling routes in the South Downs. The remaining £1.3m is being invested by the South Downs National Park Authority, the county council and other neighbouring authorities.
The work is expected to be completed by March 2015.