The Department of Transport (DfT) has given Leicester City Council almost £8m to spend on its flagship transport schemes.
Supported by funding from the city council and its partners, the £7.8m grant will allow Leicester to embark on two major transport projects, centred around creating an extensive cycling network and giving one of the city’s Park and Ride routes a new fleet of electric buses.
The government made the investment to the council through its £1.7bn Transforming Cities fund, which was set up to fund improved transport links in cities across England.
City mayor Peter Soulsby said: ‘Today’s announcement is fantastic news and allows us to move ahead with these two very significant and ambitious sustainable transport schemes, which offer real, clean alternatives to car travel in the city as well as improved transport links.’
£6.25m of the funding will be used to develop a network of walking and cycling links in Leicester which will connect the city centre with destinations such as Leicester University, Leicester Royal Infirmary and the National Space Centre.
A new £500,000 public bike hire scheme – set to be up and running later this year – will form part of this project, with 500 bikes to be made available to hire from 50 docking stations around Leicester.
The city council have also been given £1.6m to go towards electrifying its Park and Ride service between Birstall and Leicester city centre, along with infrastructure to charge the buses overnight.
It is planned that the switch to electric buses will reduce congestion on Leicester’s A6 corridor, supporting the local economy and improving air quality in the city.
Cllr Adam Clarke, deputy city mayor for environment and public health, said: ‘Our bids, which the DfT has agreed to fund, are key to making sustainable transport in the city more accessible and more attractive to people.
‘We are committed to improving air quality, cutting carbon emissions and further developing sustainable travel in the city, and we can now move forward with these ambitious schemes.’
At present, around 17,000 cycle trips are made into and out of the centre of Leicester each day.
Work is now set to take place to improve cycling and walking routes north and south of the city, and provide more secure space for cyclists to park their bikes.