A new cycle route in Colchester which cost £250,000 has been launched. The newly improved High Woods cycle route passes Colchester General Hospital, the country park and north Colchester’s business parks and it was developed as part of Colchester’s Cycling Town status.

The route is the first to be improved as part of the Cycle Colchester project, and it forms a spine route serving the 10,200 residents of Highwood’s and the 7,000 employees at the business parks. And in the coming months further improvements will be made to link the route to the town centre.

Cllr Lyn Barton, Colchester Borough Council’s Planning, Regeneration and Sustainability Portfolio Holder, said: “The High Woods Route will play an important part in showing people how easy it is to fit travelling by bike into your everyday life, by providing better links to a whole range of useful locations.”

And Cllr Kevin Bentley, Essex County Council’s Cycling Champion, added: “This is a great route for new or returning cyclists as it’s mainly off road.”

Around £2.1m of funding has been awarded from Cycling England which has been match funded by Essex County Council to promote and encourage cycling, and develop a comprehensive cycle network in the town over the three years up to March 2011.

The project is being delivered in partnership by Essex County Council, Colchester Borough Council, local cycling groups and other key stakeholders.

Colchester Cycling Campaign’s Will Bramhill said: “A lot of hard work has gone into making the High Woods Route a success, from choosing a surface which blends in with the Country Park landscape to finding new ways to show where the route continues at road junctions. I look forward to seeing lots of people cycling the route over the coming weeks and months.”

The route was launched with a day of bike-themed activities, including free bike maintenance and a High Woods Route quiz.