CYCLISTS will soon benefit from improved facilities at four railway stations on the Fylde coast thanks to a share of government funding.
Blackpool South, Lytham, St Annes and Poulton railway stations will boast covered bicycle stands with CCTV coverage, 360 extra bike spaces and improved signage following a grant from the Community Linking Places fund.
The fund has seen £15m invested in train stations across the country, and £198,000 for the North West.
The improvements have been welcomed by Coun Tony Ford, a keen cyclist, train user and chairman of the South Fylde Line Community Rail Partnership.
The St Annes town councillor said: “Being able to cycle to the station to catch a train and knowing that my bike would be under cover and secure would be very convenient and reassuring.
“I would like to see secure under cover cycle parking at St Annes station as soon as possible.
“At present cyclists have to leave their bikes outside in all weathers and this clearly puts them off using them in conjunction with a train journey.
“If the local councils also back the scheme with better car-free cycle lanes, then I am sure it will encourage more people to get on their bikes whether they are going to the station or not.”
Coun Ford said plans were already being discussed for secure cycle storage at Blackpool North station, but he would like to see the scheme extended to other stations on the south Fylde line in the near future.
He added: “Such a relatively modest investment would encourage more people to use the line and so assist in securing its future.
“Much of the Fylde is flat so it’s an ideal destination for cyclists.”
A date has not yet been set for the new facilities to be put in place but Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for transport, Fred Jackson, said the scheme would encourage people to use their bikes wherever possible.
He said: “Cycling is good for the environment and good for the individual as well. It’s great they will be able to use their bikes and be able to use the south Fylde coast line as well.”
Fylde Cyclist Tourist Club has also welcomed the news.
Its secretary, Alan Hawkins, said: “People do like to cycle to railway stations and leave their bikes there, so this is a very useful facility.
“It’s off putting when you have to leave your bikes in the open, rather than under cover. I would say this cash is a good way to invest in helping people to come to work on the train.”
Craig Harrop, client and stakeholder manager at Northern Rail, which manages the four stations, said: “Transport Minister Norman Baker’s investment announcement has been welcomed by cyclists in the region.
“We hope these improvements help to encourage more passengers to travel to and from our stations on two wheels.”