Active Travel Lanes Paused

Shared Use Path Markings

After only five months of operation, two Chester’s new Active Travel Lanes were ‘paused’ on March 1st following a recommendation from the Emergency Active Travel Lanes Working Group. This independent group which was set up by the Sustainable Transport Task Force carried out a review of the lanes using traffic volume data and feedback from residents.

Although cycling increased along the A51 at weekends, there was insufficient evidence to draw a firm conclusion that safe cycling and walking had increased. Also, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in lower than normal levels of travel which has added to the challenges of fully evaluating the effectiveness of the lanes.

Consequently the decision was taken to ‘pause’ the lanes on the A5116 Liverpool Road and on the A51 in Boughton.

Meanwhile, the Sustainable Transport Task Force will be considering alternative options to increase cycling, walking, public transport and other sustainable transport in Chester. Further research has started in an effort to review and develop options to adapt, extend or replace the current lanes.

The lanes were originally established in October 2020, after the pandemic lockdowns had reduced road traffic, enabling many people to discover the joys of cycling free from the threat of vehicles. The Government had instructed Councils to capitalise on this to encourage walking & cycling. Cheshire West and Chester Council  submitted a successful bid to the Department for Transport in May 2020 and received a £161,000 Tranche One allocation from the Emergency Active Travel Fund (EATF) for pop-up cycle lanes with protected space for cycling, together with other provision for reallocating road space, and creating wider pavements.

Public consultation on how to use this funding was carried out through the council’s ‘Walk. Ride. Thrive.’ initiative, and the Cycling Campaign was able to have input via the Council’s Active Travel Forum. Three schemes were eventually funded in Chester:

  • 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.

Opposition by car drivers to these schemes has been vociferous. The Campaign’s 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. We will continue to participate in the Active Travel Forum and in the Sustainable Travel Task Force to ensure that the views of cyclists are front and centre in any discussions.

CWAC has also been allocated a total of £611,800 in Tranche Two EATF funding.  This will be used for schemes outside of Chester itself, including some dedicated cycle lanes in Helsby and Frodsham. 

You are able to submit your own ideas to CWAC.  The council’s ‘Walk. Ride. Thrive.’ campaign is still active, enabling you to submit your views and suggestions about the walking and cycling improvements you would like to see in Chester.  The consultation 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.

CWAC Walking and Cycling Suggestions Online Tool

You can also make your suggestions simply by emailing: TransportStrategy@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

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.

 

11 Comments

  1. The Grosvenor Bridge ‘solution’ is terrible, making it decidedly more risky for cyclists with those wands posing an additional risk and motorists oblivious to both the 20mph limit and the need to respect the double white lines. Vandals slinging the wands off the bridge improved the situation a bit but the carriageway-mounted supports can still catch out an unwary cyclist.
    Please get rid and find a better solution CWAC.

  2. Do Chester Cycle Campaign think the shared bus/cycle lanes meet the Chris Boardman 12 year old test ? Can you perhaps help us understand why 0.8 miles of cycle lane shared with a bus, taxi and motorbikes will encourage cycling? In Upton the bus/cycle lane starts near the Dale Camp and then finishes just before the hospital. If the money had instead been given to the Chester Cycle Campaign to implement and trial initiatives, where would you have chosen to spend the money ?

    • Caroline. Your frustration is understood and I am sure that, with a free hand, most of us could have thought of alternative, and possibly better, ways to spend the money. BUT – the nature of the scheme devised by government was very rigidly defined & the Council was very constrained as to what could be actioned. It also had to be completed within a very tight time frame otherwise the money would disappear. Do remember also that this was a ‘carrot’ for further funding (If we hadn’t got some in the first round, we couldn’t even enter the second). One hopes that there will be more flexibility (as well as more money) in the second round.
      You may be aware of the installation of the new drainage system on the inner ring road which is going to make the current bus lane problems look minor in comparison.
      We are trying to act positively in advance of any second round funding and will be putting together a ‘wish list’ of improvements. Feel free to advise what you would like to see.

    • Buses and cyclists can mix if the bus drivers have been trained and their awareness enhanced. As a cyclist I try to keep up a decent speed and will stop to let a bus pass if there’s a good place to do so. My experience to date has been positive.
      I’m less confident that taxi drivers (who have varying degrees of skill from ‘truly excellent’ to ‘questionable’) will deal with cyclists very understandingly. However, excluding the bulk of drivers from the bus lane has created a safer environment in general but it clearly does NOT meet that ‘safe enough for a 12-year old’ target.
      Given the limited amount of money spent so far I can’t immediately see a better way of doing it but attaching an ‘Active Travel’ tag to this project seems disingenuous

  3. As someone who commutes every day on a bike through Chester, I’m truly heartened to see the council taking ANY action to support cycling in the city.
    The Grosvenor bridge lanes do help in my opinion, however I would love to see improvements in the existing cycle lane along Wrexham road which is a minefield of potholes, cracks and raised grids.

  4. It feels very important that the Campaign is heavily engaged with the council – my fear is that we are goign to end up with a load of hyper local “improvements” and no really serious investment and programme in building and developing a safe and connected network of cycle paths or safe routes. The new lanes across the Grosvenor Bridge are a casee in point, they effectively start and stop in the middle of nowhere. They may be effective in slowing traffic across the bridge (though I remain to be convinced) and giving cyclists space, but there is no provision to get to the lanes and to travel on from them. And how ugly are those bollard poles!!??

    The lanes that we do have around the city are not segregated and not connected in a comprehensive network, it’s no surpise that the uptake of cycling has been so low. We need to campaign for a proper plan to build a serious network of safe routes aroudn the city.

  5. Cycled and filmed the Grosvenor bridge route a few weeks ago and its dangerous how it filters us cyclists out in front of cars not obeying the 20 mph speed limit either way, also the liverpool road outbound lane, cycled that also and noted the footway has been cleared of vegetation to make it wider so probably going to be a SUP,which is pathetic,as there are a lot of junctions to cross and its very narrow. The A41 is better as its wider and on road and segregated,pity about Hoole roundabout being in the middle of a nice route, with no safe crossing points.

  6. Grosvenor Bridge now has painted cycle lanes in both sides and car lanes reduced from 3 to 2. Let’s hope lots of people get out n their bikes and use the new lanes to demonstrate that they are meeting a need.

  7. It’s really great that Chester Cycle Campaign has got so actively involved with supporting the Council to plan these improvements. Great effort!

  8. I’m just looking at the council’s latest press release and ccc ideas. I can’t remember what an SUP is. It would be great if you could spell it out.

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