Nearly 20,000 trips have been recorded on a newly resurfaced shared-use path between Shanklin and Wroxall in the last three months after it was resurfaced using funding from the Isle of Wight Council’s Sustainable Transport Access to Tourism project, which is funded through the government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF).
The four kilometre route, which runs between Lower Hyde and Yarborough Road, has automatic counters installed at each end which record the number of trips on a daily basis.
The route has had a new bitumen and gravel surface laid on top of a cement bound base. The gravel dressing provides a natural colour to the surface and is designed to be in keeping with the rural surroundings of the route, which is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Previously, the surface was prone to flooding which resulted in large mud patches. It is now suitable for many types of user, including families with pushchairs, wheelchair and mobility scooter users, cyclists, walkers and horse riders.
The route runs over council owned land and use was formally on a permissive basis, but as part of the project it has been designated as a bridleway, securing its future as a designated right of way.
The £400,000 scheme was carried out on behalf of the council by Island Roads and contractors Crown Park.
Councillor Luisa Hillard, Executive member for sustainability, environment and public realm, said:
“The Shanklin to Wroxall route is a very popular one and the newly resurfaced path is a fine example of the improvements the Isle of Wight is benefitting from under the LSTF scheme. The statistics showing the number of times people have used the path since June are very impressive.
“This is another example of the council’s commitment to providing quality shared routes across the Island. We are aiming to improve the standard of the walking and cycling infrastructure on the Island, not only as a benefit for local residents, but also as a means of encouraging more people to visit the Island and travel around by foot, cycle or on public transport”.
Ken Thomas, 87, from Shanklin (pictured) had the honour of cutting the ribbon to officially open the path and he was joined by numerous users including walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
He uses a mobility scooter to get around and added:
“This path is a superb facility for people like me who rely on a mobility scooter. This is because on pavements you can get in the way of pedestrians whereas here I can come for three miles, have a wonderful day out and really enjoy myself.”
Visit Isle of Wight is currently marketing the Island as a top cycling destination, and the organisation’s sustainable transport marketing executive Tom Ransom said:
“It is great to see the council investing in this popular shared use path.
“Improving facilities such as these helps supports tourism activities such as the Red Squirrel Trail. This has been tailored for cyclists and part of this follows this route between Shanklin and Wroxall. It is an important part of Visit Isle of Wight’s Bicycle Island cycle tourism offer and was recently featured in the Guardian newspaper as one of the country’s top family rides.”
The works were carried out in two phases, with track widening, drainage and vegetation clearance taking place in 2013. The resurfacing of the route was completed earlier this year. The route was officially opened on Monday (29th September).