The Government’s lockdown in March emptied the roads, enabling many people to discover the joys of cycling free from the threat of vehicles. The Government instructed Councils to capitalise on this to encourage walking & cycling. In May the Department for Transport announced a £250 million Emergency Active Travel Fund (EATF) for pop-up cycle lanes with protected space for cycling, reallocated road space, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus only corridors. Fast-tracked statutory guidance became effective immediately & infrastructure had to be in place within weeks. The Guidance facilitated trialling the infrastructure, so that it could be changed quickly as needed.
The EATF is being issued in two tranches. Tranche One is to support the installation of temporary projects for the COVID-19 pandemic. Tranche Two is for the creation of longer-term projects & allocation of funding is awaited from central Government. Cheshire West And Chester Council was allocated £161,000 for Tranche One, for the whole borough.
Public consultation on where infrastructure was needed, was invited via the ‘Walk. Ride. Thrive’ interactive map and the Campaign had input via the Council’s Active Travel Forum. Schemes funded in Chester were:
- Grosvenor Bridge (A483): cycle lanes on both approaches and highlighted cycle signs on the bridge were installed. Grosvenor Bridge is part of Chester’s LCWIP priority route.
- Boughton Corridor (A51): Between Sandy Lane & the Bars roundabout, one lane of the dual carriageway in each direction became a cycle / bus / taxi / motorcycle lane.
- Liverpool Road Corridor (A5116): Between the Dale Camp & Countess Way, one lane of the dual carriageway in each direction became a cycle / bus / taxi / motorcycle lane.
- A proportion of the funding will be used for monitoring and evaluation of the above schemes. Another proportion has been used for road safety adult cycle
training programme, for which positive feedback has been received.
Opposition by car drivers to some of the schemes has been vociferous. The Campaign view is that, whilst these schemes are far from perfect (lanes shared with buses, taxis and motorcycles and starting and finishing in potentially heavy traffic), we fully support the Council in trialling ways to allocate more space, on and off the highway, to Active Travellers in general and to cyclists in particular.
Chester city centre and Boughton is an Air Quality Management Area due to poor air quality. We have to keep working to mitigate problems caused by vehicles travelling into Chester city centre.
You are able to submit your own ideas to CWAC. The council have launched a ‘Walk, Ride Thrive’ campaign and want to hear views and suggestions from residents on how walking and cycling improvements can be made in local areas. The tool features an interactive map onto which pins can be placed with suggestions for improvements. You can access the tool using the link below. Note that there is also a survey on the same website which residents are encouraged to complete.
You can make your suggestions simply by emailing: TransportStrategy@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk
The Campaign will keep this web page undated as further news becomes available, so be sure to check back soon!
You may also wish to consider joining the Chester Cycling Campaign. This will enable you to join in our electronic discussions and to add your weight to our campaigning activity at this critical time which holds out the promise of a significant change in how we travel within and through the city.