Walking and cycling - Coronavirus update
The coronavirus pandemic has 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.
Alongside this, the government advice is for everyone to walk and cycle wherever possible, rather than relying on cars and public transport. 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 one-way roads, 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
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
- The use of playgrounds and outdoor gyms will follow the government's guidance
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.
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:
Monitoring and other actions
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.
- February 2021 - Initial engagement with key stakeholders
- March – May 2021 - Traffic surveys and preliminary design
- June 2021 - Public Consultation, including both on-line and face to face engagement (subject to Covid-19 restrictions)
- July – August 2021 - Consider consultation feedback, finalise design and approvals
- September – October 2021 - Scheme delivery
- Jan 2022 onwards - Monitoring and review of scheme outcomes
Local Accessibility Improvements – local schemes such as new or improved crossing facilities or short sections of footway
- January 2021 - Review and confirm proposed programme of minor local measures
- February 2021 - Consultation and Engagement
- Targeted local consultation with affected households, elected members, transport operators and emergency services as appropriate
- March 2021 onwards - Scheme delivery
- Sept 2021 onwards - Monitoring and review of scheme outcomes
Scheme 2 - A562 Cycle Corridor
This proposal has not been subject to any previous consultation. In advance of any consultation taking place, we'll undertake traffic surveys to feed into the development of a preliminary design for the corridor.
Here's our proposed consultation process:
A562 Cycle Corridor – comprehensive corridor treatment to provide high quality segregated cycle route along A562
- January to April 2021 - Traffic surveys and preliminary designs
- June 2021 - Initial engagement with key stakeholders
- July 2021 - Public consultation, including both on-line and face to face engagement (subject to Covid-19 restrictions)
- August - September 2021 - We'll consider consultation feedback, finalise design and approvals
- October - December 2021 - Scheme delivery
- Jan 2022 - Monitoring and review of scheme outcomes
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.