Local cyclists may have heard of plans to implement a new Park & Ride between Mannings Lane, the A56, Greenfield Lane (A41) and the M53. They may even have been asked to endorse it. Such a plan has been on the Council’s ‘wish list’ for a long time (the older ones amongst you will remember the proposed CDTS scheme which was eventually abandoned, allowing us the Millennium Greenway which we now all enjoy).
It is all too easy for us cyclists to feel instinctively that Park & Ride is a ‘good thing’ and to endorse it unconditionally. The Chester Cycling Campaign has already been asked to endorse the developer’s scheme but has declined to do so.
Before any members offer their individual endorsement, they should be aware of and evaluate the following facts:
- The latest scheme is being promoted by a developer who wants to build 300 luxury houses on Green Belt land in return for releasing some of the land to P&R.
- Estimated costs are £10.2m without any allowance for the necessary additional infrastructure which the Council admits would be needed (Hoole Road bus lane and priority signalling). No mention of inclusion of a pedestrian/ cycle bridge at the railway or of any changes to the bridge itself.
- No consideration has been given to the need to widen the Greenway in order to accommodate the additional cycling/ pedestrian traffic that it is claimed would be generated.
- The current P&R is losing customers year on year and in fact now carries fewer passengers than it did in 1999.
- The current cost to (i.e. subsidy by) Council Tax payers of CWAC is £ 1.5m per annum.
- Some 7% of customers for the P&R are actually on free passes issued by the Council.
- The proposed scheme includes a possible bike hire and sales/repair outlet. Again, on the face of it, what is not to like? – but nobody has assessed its viability or the potential effect on existing cycle businesses in and around the city.
Those interested in the implications of these Park & Ride plans may wish to read the following documents which examine the arguments in greater detail: