NEARLY £2million has been made available for BCP and Dorset councils to create improved walking and cycling routes across the conurbations.

BCP Council has been granted £1,395,000, while Dorset Council has been given £577,000 as part of the Active Travel Fund.

The funding is part of a £250million emergency fund, the first stage of a £2billion investment.

Councillor Andy Hadley, portfolio holder for transport at BCP Council, said: “We have been notified we will be receiving the first tranche of the active travel fund monies from government shortly which will be used for a range of pop-up and temporary interventions to create an environment that is safer for both walking and cycling across areas of BCP Council.

“Work has started to design and deliver a variety of temporary interventions.

“The impact of the interventions will be monitored and if they prove to be beneficial then they could potentially be made permanent using future (second tranche) funding expected later this year.”

A spokesperson for Dorset Council said schemes are being investigated to promote alternatives to public transport.

They said: “The government has made short term funding available to promote alternatives to public transport and schemes are being investigated in various parts of Dorset, including widened footways, and part time road closures to make town centres safer for people on foot and bike to be able to socially distance safely.

“In Wimborne the scheme will be implemented on Monday (June 1) and other proposals are taking shape in other towns, including Bridport, Shaftesbury, Blandford and Sherborne.

“Since the restrictions started there has been a huge increase in cycling in Dorset. Across the sites for which we have live data, cycle use has increased by 147 per cent over the last week against the week immediately prior to the restrictions starting.

“This is may be due to the good weather, and the fact that children are at home with limited opportunities to do other things. However, even as restrictions on activities have begun to lift, cycling levels have continued to increase.”

The department of transport said the plans will help encourage more people to choose alternatives to public transport when they need to travel.

It said this would make healthier habits easier and ensure road, bus and rail networks are ready to respond to increases in demand.