Published: 2nd NOVEMBER 2023

Residents celebrate safer, more accessible Black Path

Local residents celebrated the official opening of access improvements on a two-mile section of the historic Black Path in Middlesbrough last week with a ribbon cutting on the path, as well as a host of free activities.

a boy with scissors is about to cut a ribbon on a cycle route, next to a group of people smiling

Young people from the Mackenzie Thorpe Centre took part in a ribbon cutting event with Cllr Carl Quartermain. PHOTO: Philip Chisholm

The popular walking and cycle path between Normanby and South Bank was once a commuter route for sailors and steelworkers, and is now accessible for wheelchairs, mobility scooters, adapted cycles and buggies.

The work was carried out by Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, working with our North team, and funded by the Department for Transport.

Families took part in colouring in a chalk mural to mark a more open route that people of all abilities can enjoy.

They made seed bombs, went on a bird walk and planted bulbs along the grass verges of the traffic-free path, which is also known locally in Redcar as 鈥楾he Lines鈥.

A more open space for everyone

Access improvements on the Black Path (also known as 'The Lines'), include widening it to three metres, a smoother, flexible surface and cutting back vegetation.

This allows more space for everyone, better visibility and improved safety.

Barriers have been redesigned to allow people with mobility aids or larger buggies, bikes or horses to access the route, while still deterring illegal use by motorbikes.

A new sign, designed by autistic and neurodiverse learners from the , celebrates the more accessible space.

As part of the work National Cycle Route 1 was redirected from its current on-road alignment onto the path.

This provides a safer and more pleasant route for people walking, wheeling and cycling, and reduces the number of bikes along a busy bus route.

Local residents say many more people are now using the path, which feels safer and more accessible for all ages and abilities.

two people riding on an adapted cycle and smiling

Philip Chisholm rides with Angela Keith on his adapted cycle. Philip helps disabled people to enjoy cycling in the area.

Philip Chisholm rides an adapted cycle to help disabled friends and family.

Philip says: 鈥淭he Lines is amazing now. It鈥檚 wonderful for disabled carriages or even a very long bike, and a 100% improvement on what it was before.

鈥淭he old track was muddy with lots of barriers.

"You鈥檇 come off it with a filthy bike and filthy clothes.

"Now it鈥檚 lovely and smooth tarmac, there are access points all the way along, and it鈥檚 three times the width.

鈥淚鈥檝e ridden a bike since I was a little boy. I鈥檓 now 70.

"This feels like cycle routes are moving with the times for all age groups.鈥

Local residents Michelle and Angela said: 鈥淲e love it, it鈥檚 loads better.

"We use it all the time, but previously we wouldn鈥檛 because it didn鈥檛 feel safe, even during the day, sadly.

"Since it鈥檚 been done we feel safer.

鈥淢any people are using it now, there was someone on a wheelchair using it the other day. That鈥檚 never been seen before.

"We鈥檙e getting more exercise every day. We used to walk down Normanby Road but now we come down here instead.

"We just hear the birds rather than cars, it鈥檚 lovely.鈥

Tom French, also local said: 鈥淚t鈥檚 a much better path now, it鈥檚 certainly getting more use.

"For older people like me, it feels a lot safer. I鈥檝e told friends of mine to come and try it.鈥

Debbie O鈥橦ara, another local resident, said: 鈥淚f you come at 6pm, it鈥檚 full of kids on bikes. Everyone says 鈥渙h isn鈥檛 this lovely鈥. It鈥檚 great seeing the families strolling up and down.鈥

Blockquote quotation marks
"The Lines is amazing now. It鈥檚 wonderful for disabled carriages or even a very long bike, and a 100% improvement on what it was before. 鈥淚鈥檝e ridden a bike since I was a little boy. I鈥檓 now 70. This feels like cycle routes are moving with the times for all age groups." Blockquote quotation marks
Philip Chisholm

Paul Adams, GTV视频鈥 Network Development Manager for the North East said: 鈥淚t鈥檚 been fantastic to see so many more people enjoying the route, including people using mobility aids, families with buggies and horses.

鈥淭he Black Path was always a popular path but barriers and poor surface stopped many legitimate users from accessing it. This meant the path often had quiet periods, which encouraged people on motorbikes to use it illegally.

鈥淲e鈥檝e removed the barriers and will be replacing them with chicanes which allow more people to get on the route, but deter motor bike use.

鈥淣ow the path is part of a national cycle route, creating a safer and more pleasant environment for people commuting or going to school. The wider, smoother path is a busy, vibrant community route that is easier for everyone to enjoy.鈥

Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Cllr Carl Quartermain, from Redcar and Cleveland Council, gave a speech and cut the ribbon to celebrate the path opening. Cllr Carl Quartermain, said:

鈥淚t is wonderful to see the Black Path vision finally complete, cleaner, wider and safer than ever it was when used by thousands of workers over the past 150 years.

"This popular local path, now part of the Teesdale Way and England Coast pathway, has such a strong history that connected our workers to their jobs within steel, iron, shipbuilding, chemicals and even salt-making.

"It has undergone an amazing transformation that will allow all our residents and visitors, walkers and cyclists to benefit from and to learn about its significance.

The 拢665,000 improvement work on the Black Path was funded by the Department for Transport.

GTV视频 is leading a UK-wide programme, funded by the Department for Transport, to create paths that are accessible for everyone to enjoy. Route improvements to the National Cycle Network are part of our recommendations in our most recent Paths for Everyone report.

Find out more about our plans to improve the National Cycle Network and see work in progress near you.

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