Residents in Kidlington, Bicester and Banbury are discovering a range of fun, interactive pavement markings, forming part of a series of new health walks in Cherwell’s urban areas.
Published: Tuesday, 12th October 2021
Inspired by three existing 5k health routes marked in a blue line on the pathways around Bicester, the new designs are being installed by Cherwell District Council’s healthy place shaping team, helping residents to become more active and explore their local area on foot.
Councillor Andrew McHugh, Cherwell District Council’s Lead Member for Health and Wellbeing said: “Cherwell has led the way in developing programmes to improve the health and wellbeing of residents. One of the most popular of these has been our blue line health walks in Bicester, which have seen a surge in use during COVID. When funding became available to replicate similar schemes across our other urban centres, we acted quickly to share the benefits.”
Bicester’s 5k health walks were first installed in 2017 as part of the NHS Healthy New Town project. A study found that for every £1 invested in creating the blue-lined trails, £2.10 would be saved by the NHS over 25 years. New enhancements have now been made to the paths in north-east Bicester, west Bicester and Langford, adding interactive games and imaginative markers to encourage even greater use. Half kilometre signs have also been included, after feedback from residents suggested these would help youngsters and those with limited mobility to use them.
The new designs have been financed through the government’s Contain Outbreak Management Fund (COMF) supporting the local community to recover from COVID by encouraging more outdoor activity and improving general wellbeing in a safe environment.
The same fund has been accessed to create three new health routes in Banbury. Users will be guided by a trail of coloured shapes, marked on pathways and signposts, accompanied by a range of family-friendly activities to do on the way. Consultation work has been taking place this summer with community groups, organisations and residents to finalise the routes in Grimsbury, Ruscote, Bretch Hill and Neithrop, with groundwork due to begin this month.
The projects in Bicester and Banbury come weeks after the successful implementation of Kidlington’s Zoo Trails. Funded by Sport England, and managed through Cherwell’s K5 Better Together partnership, the initiative uses a combination of paw print pavement markings, signposts and nature hubs to encourage families to walk around the village on foot.
Cllr McHugh continued: “These projects have been funded in slightly different ways, but they each have community wellbeing at their heart. None of the programmes would have been possible without a high degree of partnership work and I’m grateful for the time, energy and direction given by the town councils in Bicester and Banbury, as well as Kidlington Parish Council, for their help in creating these wonderful trails.”