An 80-year dream of world renowned town planner Sir Patrick Abercrombie has been realised. The Ridgeway project - a six-mile continuous traffic free route that runs north to south of Scunthorpe is now complete.
On Friday 27 April, the Mayor of North Lincolnshire, Keith Vickers, will open a brand new bridge that will link two sections of the route - the final piece to the jigsaw.
The route is part of a national project from charity Sustrans that is creating new routes for everyday journeys in communities across the UK, thanks to a £50m grant from the Big Lottery Fund. Local funding has also been used for the scheme.
Four years from winning the grant and the transformation is unbelievable. Now called the Ridgeway National Cycle Network, it connects people to people, people to places and provides a safe off-road route through the western side of Scunthorpe from Atkinson’s Warren to Manor Park.
The route has beautiful, peaceful views westwards over the Trent Valley, that join seamlessly with schools and colleges along the way and to Central Park.
It links residential areas to schools and colleges and connects people to town centre amenities including the hospital, health centres and the award winning Pods sport and leisure centre.
The bridge is one of two. The other, on Bridges Road, opened last year.
Cllr Nigel Sherwood, cabinet member for highways and neighbourhoods at North Lincolnshire Council, said:
“This is a fantastic asset to thousands of people, enabling them to leave their cars at home, get some exercise, take in the fresh air and enjoy the views.
“The route is already proving immensely popular. We’ve seen a huge increase in cycling and walking along the route in the last seven months, with over 183,000 pedestrians and around 65,000 cyclists using it.
“It’s fantastic to see the project finish. The support of local people was vitally important in turning the dream into reality, and I want to thank everyone for their help.”
Matt Easter, Sustrans Regional Director for the East Midlands, said:
“Walking and cycling are great ways to get around. They’re good for our health, our wallet and its fun to be out and about too.
“Many people would love to cycle more, but unfortunately feel that the roads can be too dangerous. Routes such as this one in Scunthorpe are allowing more people to make more of their everyday journeys under their own steam,”
Vanessa White, Big Lottery Fund Head of Region for Yorkshire and the Humber, said:
"The BIG Lottery Fund's innovative Living Landmarks programme was designed to transform, revitalise and regenerate communities, whilst allowing the public to decide how to invest the funding. Connect 2 is a fantastic example of what Living Landmarks has achieved, promoting safe routes for walkers and cyclists, connecting communities and healthier lives for the people of Scunthorpe and beyond.”
Included along the route is the Olympic themed open air gym designed for free use by all, but particularly intended for the many schools in the area with easy access via he Ridgeway.
The newly finished West Common Lane Bridge was an essential part of the route and already offers connectivity opportunities linking with Scunthorpe Town Centre, schools, hospital, The Pods, colleges and parks.
It was the vision of town planner, Sir Patrick Abercrombie, to join together the five villages, that today make up Scunthorpe, reinforced by a coherent network of green spaces and a comprehensive network for people to move between the various residential areas. He lived from 1879 to 1957.
The Ridgeway project cost £3.4m, with £1m of that from Sustrans in conjunction with the Big Lottery Fund.
The construction of the project was down to local business expertise.
The steel for the two bridges was sourced locally.
Local volunteers played their part by planting trees to improve the habitat of local wildlife.