The money will fund 100 miles of new walking and cycling routes as part of the Valleys Cycle Network. This will enhance more than 250 miles (410km) of existing routes in the Valleys and bringing the National Cycle Network to within two miles of a further 636,000 people.
The network of routes will follow the former tramways, towpaths and railways in the south Wales Valleys - legacies of its industrial past.
Led by the sustainable transport charity Sustrans, the three year project will receive £3.5 million from the Convergence European Regional Development Fund, £3 million from the Welsh Assembly Government as well as support from the Big Lottery Fund.
Together with the previously allocated £3.2 million from the Assembly Government’s Heads of the Valleys Project and £5million from the Valleys Partnership VRP project, a total of £16 million will be invested in the Valleys Cycle Network.
With improved walking and cycling opportunities for people across Merthyr Tydfil, Pontypridd, Llantrisant, and Pontypool, it is hoped the scheme will provide an attractive alternative to car journeys, cutting congestion, reducing carbon emissions and helping people to travel in ways that benefit their health.
The new network will also link existing routes in Swansea, Llynfi, Taff, Ely and Ebbw Valleys, improving access to towns and employment opportunities, as well as shops and visitor attractions.
Mr Jones said:
“We are committed to encouraging more cycling and walking throughout Wales, helping people to reduce car journeys and provide them with healthy and cost effective access to employment and training opportunities.
“This project will bring immense benefits to the health and well-being of people in the South Wales Valleys, and to the environment of the area by reducing emissions caused by car use. It will form part of a wider scheme which will encourage more route users across the whole of Wales.
”As demonstrated in our National Transport Plan, we are more committed than ever to providing more safe cycling and walking routes throughout Wales and will continue to work in partnership with Sustrans to do so.”
Leighton Andrews, Deputy Minister for Regeneration, said the project would also support work being undertaken by the Valleys Partnership to develop, expand and enhance the unique tourism potential of The Valleys.
“The emphasis is on promoting the natural environment and cultural heritage and concentrates on outdoor activities such as walking and cycling,” he said.
“The development of an extensive off road network of footpaths, trail and cycleways is a key element of this project which makes this latest investment development such good news.”
Lee Waters, Sustrans Cymru Director, said:
“These new routes will make it easier for the people of the valleys to get around their communities and to work on foot or by bike, and will also form part of a larger network that will attract tourists from across the country.”
The scheme, delivered alongside Sewta (the South East Wales Transport Alliance) and SWWITCH (The South West Wales Integrated Transport Consortium) will build on the success of other flagship projects including the Objective 1 funded Celtic Trail - part of a network running 377 miles, providing a traffic-free route for many communities across South and West Wales.
9 September 2009