The coronavirus pandemic dramatically altered the transport and exercise habits of people in Warrington.

In late Autumn 2020, figures showed that traffic levels were still reduced - at around 85% of the levels from the previous year. However, cycling levels were then approximately 40% higher than the levels measured at the same time last year.

We're 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 there to be a continued increase in walking, cycling and running. We've made 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 have made include:

Changes to support pedestrians and cyclists
  • Widening of some footways, with temporary barriers at pinch-point areas to accommodate the increased numbers of pedestrians
  • Dedicated cycle lanes, using new barriers and signage, to help the marked increase of cyclists travel safely
  • Traffic signals have been changed to prioritise ‘green time’ for residents and ensure pedestrian and cyclist safety
  • Changes to the town centre roads, including modal filters and restricted vehicle movements in some locations, to reduce through traffic and make it more pedestrian and cycle friendly
  • We're also making cycle routes into the town centre much more accessible. We're doing this by replacing widening and surfacing existing trails to create long-lasting and fit-for-purpose cycleways
  • Additional cycle parking has been installed across the town centre
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Sankey Bridges - before and after

Sankey Bridges - before and after

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Bennetts recreational ground - before and after

Bennetts recreational ground - before and after

A safer town centre
  • As well as widened footways, there are one-way pavements with clearly marked with ‘Stay left, stay safe’ signage to enable everyone to keep a safe distance from others
  • We'll also continue to work with customer-facing businesses like banks, shops and bars to manage COVID-secure practices
Protective parks and green spaces
  • Clear signage positioned at park entrances to support people to keep a safe distance
  • High-traffic footpaths and cycle paths have been widened
  • Maintenance of parks and green spaces will focus on clearing the space around paths to ensure enough room for people walking or cycling

Changes to support Warrington getting 'back to business'

Temporary measures were first put in place in summer 2020, with measures being regularly monitored.

Current temporary and permanent measures are shown in the plan below. Following a public consultation in December 2020, some of these measures have been made permanent and some will remain temporary while further monitoring is undertaken.

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Warrington Town Centre Vehicle Circulation Plan- April 2021

Consultation on further changes

In December 2020, we consulted on making a number of the town centre measures permanent as part of Active Travel Fund bid for Town Centre Active Travel measures (Scheme 3 - see below). As this consultation has ended, we'd like to feedback some of the key headlines.

Several responses to our consultation were supportive and agreed that changes to make the town centre more attractive for walking and cycling were important. However, several other answers raised concerns about the impact of the changes on town centre trade and access into and out of the Cultural Quarter. 

Others raised concerns that proposals were to be installed permanently before measuring the impact from the Centre Park Link opening and a return to normal traffic conditions post-pandemic.

As a result of these responses, we propose to amend the Cultural Quarter measures, specifically at the southern end of Bold Street and to monitor the impact of these measures over a longer period before making any decisions on further permanent changes. 

However, we propose to install the two schemes at Scotland Road and Wilson Patten Street permanently.

We've set out a summary of the proposed changes below:

Proposals to be amended and/or subject to further monitoring

Location
Our response 
  • Bold Street (reversal of one way)
  • Winmarleigh Street left turn ban
  • Academy Way restrictions to westbound traffic
  • Barbauld Street restrictions onto Wilson Patten Street
  • Sankey Street/Bold Street

 

Proposed changes

  • It's proposed to revert Bold Street to one-way southbound between Wilson Patten and Museum Street
  • Changes to allow contraflow cycling are also proposed northbound on Bold Street

Monitoring and other actions

  • Schemes to remain in temporary form and further monitoring to be undertaken
  • Monitor the impact of Centre Park Link and return to 'normal' traffic levels later in 2021 
  • Additional monitoring of effects on access for town centre business and residents
  • Identify potential mitigation measures, if the scheme proposed for permanent implementation at a later date
  • We'll review all taxi ranks to help provide a better spread of ranks across the town centre

Proposals to be implemented

Location
Our response
  • Wilson Patten Street pedestrian crossing 
  • 3200 pedestrians use the crossing and cyclists per day (pre- Covid), and the waiting area is not large enough
  • Centre Park Link Road will remove traffic from the junction and traffic modelling shows that two lanes will provide sufficient capacity now and in the future.
  • We'll deliver the proposals as part of the Chester Road Cycleway scheme approved recently by Cabinet
  • Scotland Road bus gate

  • The measures are intended to remove through traffic and not restrict access to the town centre
  • Taxis will be allowed through the Scotland Road Bus Gate and suspended ranks will be brought back into use

Further details of the consultation process can be found in our consultation report:

How are these changes funded?

Funding for the first stages of improvements during summer 2020 was sourced in part from an Emergency Active Travel Grant. This grant was provided by the Department for Transport, which contributed to the cost of our main temporary highway interventions.

In May 2020, the government announced a further round of potential funding. The government invited local authorities to bid for this additional money to support walking and cycling through the Covid-19 pandemic. The intention of this funding is to allow councils to make, where appropriate, the temporary measures set out in Tranche 1 into more permanent changes. These permanent changes would then potentially expand the scope of measures to other areas of the borough.

We submitted our Tranche 2 bid to DfT in August 2020. Our bid set out three improvement schemes which would deliver improvements for walking and cycling:

  • Scheme 1 – Central 6 Local Access Improvements
  • Scheme 2 – A562 Cycle Corridor
  • Scheme 3 – Town Centre Active Travel

On 13 November the government awarded £650,000 to Warrington to deliver the proposals set out in our bid from the government's Active Travel Fund.

With Tranche 1 measures delivered in July, a consultation wasn't possible due to the speed with which the pandemic affected us all and the need for emergency measures to be put in place.

However, one condition of the Tranche 2 funding, is the need to ensure public consultation takes place on the scheme before delivery of the programme. Our plans to consult with stakeholders and residents are set out below.

Active Travel Fund Consultation Plans

Scheme 1 - Central 6 Local Access Improvements 

We carried out extensive consultation with residents and stakeholders during the development of the Central 6 Masterplan in 2019. The feedback from this process has been critical in influencing the measures put forward in this scheme, with particular emphasis on reducing the impact of traffic in residential areas and improving accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists. 

There are two elements to the scheme, which we'll develop and consult upon separately.

Here's our proposed consultation process:

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – area wide treatments to reduce through traffic and improve conditions in residential areas, provisionally identified for Orford and Westy.

  • July 2021 - Initial engagement with key stakeholders
  • June - July 2021 - Traffic surveys and preliminary design
  • Autumn 2021 - Public Consultation, including both on-line and face to face engagement (subject to Covid-19 restrictions)
  • December 2021 - Consider consultation feedback, finalise design and approvals
  • January - March 2021 - Scheme delivery
  • Spring 2022 onwards - Monitoring and review of scheme outcomes

Scheme 2 - Lights segregation cycle routes - A562 Cycle Corridor

Initial design and survey work on the A562 corridor has continued over recent months. The programme for consultation and delivery is currently under review. 

Scheme 3 - Town Centre Active Travel

Scheme 3 (Town Centre Active Travel) proposes to change some of the existing temporary measures in the town centre into permanent improvements.

The consultation has now closed with the outcome described in our summary above. Further details can be found in our consultation report.

The indicative dates for key milestones are set out below:

Town Centre Active Travel measures  

  • December 2020 - Public consultation - including public consultation and stakeholder engagement.
  • January - February 2021 - Consultation report produced and outcomes published
  • June - July 2021 - Delivery of permanent schemes commence
  • February - Autumn 2021 - Further changes made to temporary schemes and further monitoring undertaken

Let us know your views

We would value your feedback on the various changes we're making and how well they help to support your new exercise and travel habits.