On Friday 6th March, three schools in Stoke-on-Trent set the wheels in motion to open a new link in the network of cycle routes in Stoke, connecting schools in the north and east of the city to the University Quarter and the city centre.
Youngsters from Birches Head High School, Excel Academy and Holden Lane Primary School, joined Stoke-on-Trent City Council Leader Mohammed Pervez and Sustrans, to open 0.3 kilometres of traffic-free cycle path, linking to National Cycle Network Route 55.
Yvonne Gilligan, Regional Director of Sustrans in the West Midlands, explained:
“The new link provides great access to lots of other routes, providing a safe space to walk or cycle to local amenities, such as schools, or even to explore further afield. As a bonus, there is also a direct link for students and staff into the grounds of Birches Head Academy.”
The new Birches Head section of Route 55 links the Whitfield Valley and the Caldon Canal towpath, providing a new, safe link to and from the city centre.
The £326,000 scheme has been funded by Stoke-on-Trent City Council in partnership with Sustrans from Local Sustainable Transport Fund Programme grants and has been built by the council’s highways team.
The scheme was delivered after months of public consultation, site surveys and building work, including taking into account the needs of local badgers.
Local schools, including Birches Head High School, Excel Academy, Burnwood Community School and St Margaret Ward, are getting cycle training from Sustrans to ensure they can make the most of the link.
Council Leader Mohammed Pervez said the city already has a wonderful network of more than 160km of cycle routes:
“Cycling is a great way to get around, it’s really healthy and it oxygenates the brain. This link will connect hundreds of the city’s children to the thriving University Quarter. This is brain lane for the city’s next generation.
“We have been riding tandem with national cycle organisation Sustrans to add this latest link to the chain which includes towpaths and river routes, green lanes and paths which provides traffic free and safe cycling for all.
“Stoke-on-Trent is a great place to live and work and the cycle network plugs the city into even more opportunities for health, leisure, education and employment. This really is a green and sustainable city.”