A NEW cycle and walk way linking Southill and Weymouth has been officially opened.
Dozens of school children from Southill Primary and Wey Valley School attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new cycleway which links the Radipole Bird Reserve cycleway in Weymouth, to the communities of Southill and Radipole.
John Wilson, Chairman of Dorset County Council cut the ribbon together with Davis Harris, county councillor for Westham.
The two-mile path that runs through Westham, Southill, Radipole and Redlands is the final part of a larger cycle and walk-way route and now people can cycle from Portland to Dorchester on a traffic-free route. There are also five new crossings, including a new Toucan crossing on Weymouth Way, close to Chafeys roundabout.
Officially opening the cycle and walking route Cllr Wilson said that Weymouth now had 24 miles of cycling network and was one of the best towns for cycle access in the South West.
He said: “This week is National Bike Week so as county council champion for sustainability, I'm really delighted to be part of this ribbon cutting ceremony.
“This completes a key link in the walking and cycling network.”
The scheme cost £985,000 and funding came from the Weymouth-Dorchester Corridor LSTF project, the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, Department for Transport Cycle Safety Fund and Dorset County Council's Local Transport Fund.
Residents had long campaigned for a crossing and handed in a petition with more than 1,000 signatures on it to the county council.
In 2012, five-year-old Lily-Mae Jeffries from Taunton died after being involved in a collision while crossing Weymouth Way with members of her family.
Cllr Harris said Lily-Mae's parents were organising a memorial stone to their daughter which will be installed later in the year along the Weymouth Way, where her windmill tributes currently stand.
He added that the route had already seen lots of people using it.
He said: “I'm delighted by the amount of use it's having.”
Kevin Humphries from Sustrans said they had put £289,000 into the scheme and invested £1.5 million overall in the Weymouth walking and cycling network.
He said: “It's a fabulous resource and will hopefully get more people walking and cycling into town for everyday trips.”
Head of PE at Wey Valley, Mark Salmon, said he was impressed by the new pathway. He said: “It's a high quality surface, its well sign posted, the maps are brilliant.”
N This Sunday (22) there will be a free bike check event at the new cycle shelter at Westham Bridge in Weymouth. People can get their bikes checked over for free from 10.30am-3pm.