A £4.2m scheme to transform Black Country canal towpaths into cycling and walking routes through areas steeped in industrial history is set to be delivered.
Public transport co-ordinator Centro is working in partnership with the Canal and River Trust charity, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton councils to deliver the Managing Short Trips project funded by the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership.
The initiative will also provide improved connections to on-road cycle routes, joining up residential, employment and education hubs like the i54, Walsall town centre and Pensnett Trading Estate.
Cllr Roger Lawrence, chair of the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority, said: 'We have already seen great improvements to walking and cycling facilities in our area through the Smart Network, Smarter Choices project and this scheme will really allow us to build on that.
'This funding will help us breathe new life into some of the canal towpaths, some of which date back to the 18th century, and improve routes for people travelling by bike or on foot.'
More than 16 miles of canal towpaths will be improved under the scheme, providing connections to parts of the National Cycle Network and contributing to the ambitions of the West Midlands Cycle Charter, which was formally launched last year by the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority.
Ian Lane, West Midlands Waterways manager for the Canal and River Trust, said: 'The canals in the Black Country provide a ready-made network of green traffic free routes in and around towns and cities.
'These projects will improve the towpath for everyone, making it more accessible for cyclists, walkers, joggers, anglers and boaters.
'The canals in the Black Country really help to connect local communities. Once this work is complete, it will be easier than ever for people to visit their local waterway and escape the daily hustle and bustle.'