The ring-fenced funding has been made available through Phase 2 of the government’s Active Travel Fund. This follows the earlier successful bid for £130,000 for Phase 1 Active Travel Funding which has been used to introduce a range of active travel schemes on an initially temporary basis across the town.
The Department for Transport (DfT) funding – which aims to deliver a range of measures to enhance active travel - is a direct response to the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the way people travel every day. It also closely follows the government’s publication of its cycling strategy ‘Gear Change’, in which it pledges more support to make cycling safer and more accessible.
Cllr Hans Mundry, cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: “This grant funding from the Department for Transport represents an excellent opportunity to bring forward a wide range of active travel initiatives for our residents.
“Many of the schemes and measures put forward in this bid form part of our existing strategic vision for our town, including the Central 6 Masterplan, consultation from which told us our communities have a strong desire for increased walking and cycling opportunities in a cleaner, greener, safer environment.”
In-line with DfT funding requirements, the council’s bid was centred around creating meaningful, quality improvements to the transport network that are focused on shifting some of the long-held priorities of the network away from vehicles, to cyclists and pedestrians.
This supports the council’s Local Transport Plan (LTP4), which sets out a blueprint for encouraging more sustainable travel, and with the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) which focuses on improving the walking and cycling network.
Cllr Mundry added: “Appreciating the shift in transport patterns among our residents due to coronavirus, the government expects us to act swiftly and decisively to ensure our transport network is fit for purpose and encourages residents to make more of their journeys on foot and by bicycle.
“Residents have also long told us they care deeply about seeing improvements to air quality in their areas and also that they want us to reduce carbon emissions from transport. Getting more cars off the road and more people using active travel options is a key way of delivering on this, and this funding will help do just that.”
In support of the Phase 2 bid, the council has been monitoring the range of temporary emergency schemes implemented with the Phase 1 funding earlier in the year, many in the town centre, in order to determine which are having the desired impact and which would be suitable to be made permanent. Public and stakeholder consultation will be a key element of rolling out the measures, with consultation on permanent measures in the town centre to be carried out in the coming weeks, details of which will be announced in the near future.
This investment in active travel is just one part of the Council’s Local Transport Plan 4 programme, with consultation underway in parallel on the Warrington Western Link, which we encourage everyone to also respond to. To support the Local Transport Plan, over £100m has been invested in the last five years on a wide range of schemes, including the Centre Park Link, M62 Junction 8, Warrington East Phases 2 and 3 and Warrington West Station.