PLANS to link two major areas of the Tyne Valley by improving cycling networks continue to progress.

While discussions about connecting Hexham and Corbridge with a better cycling route have been ongoing for 20 years, things have taken a step forward in recent times.

Nick Oliver, the Northumberland county councillor for Corbridge, has been fighting for a cycling route for the past two years.

His campaign has been improved with assistance to fellow county councillor Cath Homer, who represents Hexham East and who is also the cabinet member for culture, arts, leisure and tourism at the authority.

Two weeks ago, Coun. Homer launched Northumberland County Council’s vision for cycling and walking in the county, and the ambitious strategic plan includes 12 Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans submitted to the Department for Transport.

As part of that application, there is a focus on connecting towns to encourage leisure cycling, tourism and community.

High on the agenda is linking Hexham and Corbridge through the Connecting Towns initiatives, and council officers are currently working on how this may be achieved.

Coun. Homer said: “Any ways we can find to boost tourism are essential as we recover from Covid.

“Hexham and Corbridge are a gateway to Hadrian’s Wall and the Tyne Valley is already one of the best places to cycle in the country."

“This would add to that offer and have great health and environmental benefits for local residents”

Coun. Oliver added: “As a keen cyclist, I welcome these ambitious plans and would dearly love to see Corbridge and Hexham connected with an off road cycling and walking track.

“I’ve been engaging with council officers since I was elected exploring how this might happen.This project will have my full support.”

Members of the public are set to take to the roads around Hexham and Corbridge on Saturday, July 11, to raise awareness of the need for better infrastructure.

Organised by local climate change activist Nick Morphet, cyclists can meet at the former bus station in Hexham at 11am for a socially distanced bike ride to Corbridge and back.

He said investing in cycle paths and cycle lanes was a critical part of the fight against climate change and air pollution, and investment would create jobs and boost people’s physical health and the economy.

He said: “Climate breakdown, the nature crisis and the coronavirus pandemic have created the perfect storm, but the storm clouds do have a silver lining.

“We can’t all rely on public transport right now, but by getting on our bikes we can stay mobile without it costing the earth or causing gridlock on our roads”.

He added: “The Department of Transport has instructed councils to urgently reallocate road space to pedestrians and cyclists, and to see the recovery from coronavirus as a golden opportunity to transform the way we make short journeys.

“The council tells us they’re making progress, but so far nothing has changed. It’s high time the council seized the bike by the handlebars.”