Changes to footways and cyclepaths - Coronavirus update
The Coronavirus pandemic has dramatically altered the transport and exercise habits of people in Warrington - the number of people cycling across Warrington has surged by more than 100% and traffic levels on roads in some areas have been as low as 40% of normal volumes.
Alongside this, the Government advice is for everyone to walk and cycle wherever possible, rather than relying on cars and public transport. We are implementing measures across Warrington to help make walking and cycling the default option, by making it as easy as possible to make short trips. Walking and cycling improves your health, reduces levels of traffic on our streets and is much better for the environment.
Because of this, paired with the recent big changes in how Warrington residents travel, we expect people will drive far less and there will be a continued increase in walking, cycling and running. We’ll be making changes to our footways and cyclepaths to help ensure residents are able to socially distance while they’re out and about, whether as a pedestrian or cyclist. Some of the changes we’ll be making will include:
Highways to support pedestrians and cyclists
- The council will be widening key footways, with temporary barriers at pinch-point areas to accommodate the increased numbers in pedestrians - and to ensure they can safely socially distance from others.
- There will be a large increase in dedicated cycle lanes, using new barriers and signage, to help the marked increase of cyclists travel safely in Warrington.
- Traffic signals will be changed to prioritise ‘green time’ for residents and ensure pedestrian and cyclist safety.
- There will be changes to the Town Centre roads, including new one-way roads, to make it more pedestrian and cycle focused.
- We have also supported making cycle ways into the town centre much more accessible, by replacing existing trails with long-lasting and fit-for-purpose cycleways
A safer town centre
- As well as widened footways, there will also be one-way pavements with clearly marked ‘Stay left, stay safe’ signage to support residents with social distancing.
- The council will also work with customer-facing businesses like banks, shops and bars to introduce safe, sensible queuing areas outsides their premises when they re-open in line with the national guidance.
Protective parks and green spaces
- Clear signage will be positioned at park entrances to support people to keep their distance.
- High-traffic footpaths will be widened.
- Maintenance of parks and green spaces will focus on clearing the space around footways to ensure enough room for people walking or cycling.
- Playgrounds and outdoor gyms will remain closed until Government guidance allows their reopening.
In addition to these changes, the council will also be looking at communities and urban areas that will benefit from an uplift in secure bicycle parking.
Changes to support Warrington getting 'back to business'
We’re rolling out the town centre measures to coincide with the re-opening of non-essential retail and eateries, which is currently planned for 15 June, when these areas are expected to become busier.
Various temporary highway improvements in and around the town centre will be started by the end of July. You’re going to see a large uplift in bicycle lanes, footway widening and the introduction of several one-way roads to reduce the number of vehicles travelling into and through the town centre.
Some key changes to the town centre include:
- The one-way system on Bold Street being reversed, with cycle flow in the opposite direction
- No vehicle access (except for cyclists) on Barbauld Street
- St Austin's Lane to become a one-way street westbound, with cyclists allowed in opposite direction
- Left turn not permitted (except for cyclists) from Winmarleigh Street to Sankey Street. A new pop-up cycle lane is now in place on Sankey Street
- Pedestrian and cycle crossing improvements have been made on Wilson Patten Street
Each change to highways in and around the town centre will be clearly sign-posted.
We’ll fully review how effective the interventions are - like our cycle lanes and widening pedestrianised areas – and in some cases we may tweak or remove them altogether where needed. These changes are necessary to ensure everyone can socially distance and to reflect how our travel and behaviour has changed in the COVID-19 world.
How is the council funding the changes?
Funding for the improvements will be sourced in part from an Emergency Active Travel Grant provided by the Department for Transport, which will contribute to the cost of the council’s main temporary highway interventions.
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) has also allocated a share of funding worth around £150k to us for assistance in adapting urban centres.
Let us know your views
We your feedback on the various changes we make and how well they help to support your new exercise and travel habits.