Work is under way on the first two Bee Network schemes to boost walking and cycling in Tameside.
It includes enhancing an off-road path for people to enjoy walking and cycling at Chadwick Dam through Ashton and Stalybridge, which will improve connections between residential areas and Tameside Hospital.
The work extends walking and cycling provision and features a new crossing of Mossley Road to improve access towards the park - where additional planting and new benches have also been installed.
The hospital has also recently provided cycling facilities for staff to make the most of the scheme.
Ridgehill Big Local Enterprises, the lease holders for Chadwick Dam and Stamford Boating Lake, are also building a sensory garden after a successful funding bid to the AVIVA Community fund.
The second Bee Network scheme involves a series of cycle improvements between Hill Street and Stockport Road in Ashton, which includes contraflow cycle lanes and a new parallel zebra crossing.
It will better connect residential areas in Ashton with Audenshaw and Ashton town centre, with links to the Peak Forest Canal running between Ashton town centre and the Stockport boundary via Hyde town centre. It will also provide access at Portland Basin onto the cycle route along the Ashton Canal towpath to Manchester City Centre, which was upgraded by the Canal and River Trust.
A consultation on the schemes took place in early 2020, with the vast majority of respondents indicating that they would encourage them to cycle and walk more.
Tameside Council say it is also working with partners to develop an activation plan to provide people with the skills and confidence to use the new cycling routes.
Councillor Warren Bray, Executive Member for Transport and Connectivity, commented: “It’s wonderful to see that work has started on Tameside’s first two Bee Network schemes, making this ambitious vision a reality.
“These schemes will create and enhance cycling and walking routes across Tameside that join up around Greater Manchester, encouraging residents to walk or cycle more, reducing vehicle trips and tackling congestion and poor air quality to protect the environment and help keep people fit and healthy.
“We’re delighted to work with Tameside Hospital and Ridgehill Big Local Enterprises to support their initiatives to encourage walking and cycling. These first two schemes will give those travelling to the hospital, as well as to local shops, schools and work, a healthier and greener travel option.”
Andrew Light, Health and Wellbeing Guardian and Non-Executive Director at Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, added: “The health and wellbeing of our staff is of great importance to us at the ICFT. We know how beneficial it can be both physically and mentally to get out for a walk during your lunch break or even after work. I am delighted that improvements are being made to this picturesque and much valued space close to the hospital. With spring just around the corner I can see that this area will be very well used over the coming months and beyond.”
A spokesperson for Ridgehill Big Local Enterprises said: “We are proud that our successful funding bid will enable a sensory garden to be built within this area of natural beauty. This garden will enhance the area, creating a picturesque space within the Bee Network walking and cycling scheme in Tameside.”
The Bee Network is designed to connect every neighbourhood and community in Greater Manchester with a fully joined-up cycling and walking network of 1,800 miles.
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority has approved £8.4 million of the Mayor’s Challenge Fund to progress development across Greater Manchester, including £687,000 to support the delivery of the two schemes at Chadwick Dam and Hill Street.
Work has started on the Bee Network at Chadwick Dam. Photos: Tameside Council.