The Coronavirus pandemic has dramatically altered the transport and exercise habits of people in Warrington - the number of people cycling across Warrington surged by more than 100% in the summer and traffic levels on roads in some areas have been as low as 40% of normal volumes. 

More recently, figures show that traffic levels are still reduced - at around 85% of the levels from the previous year. However, cycling levels remain approximately 30% higher than the levels measured at the same time last year.

Alongside this, the government advice during the pandemic 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 key footways, with temporary barriers at pinch-point areas to accommodate the increased numbers of pedestrians - and to ensure they can safely socially distance from others
  • Dedicated cycle lanes, using new barriers and signage, to help the marked increase of cyclists travel safely in Warrington
  • 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
Image
Sankey Bridges - before and after

Sankey Bridges - before and after

Image
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 ‘Stay left, stay safe’ signage to support residents with social distancing
  • We'll also continue to 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 and cycle paths will be 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'

We've monitored continuously the current measures that we introduced in July 2020 — only making changes where necessary. Any changes that have been made we're to ensure that they provide the benefits intended to support visitors and businesses in the town centre. 

Current measures 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) from Barbauld Street onto Wilson Pattern Street
  • Left turn not permitted (except for cyclists) from Winmarleigh Street to Sankey Street
  • Pedestrian and cycle crossing improvements on Wilson Patten Street
  • Changed access to Scotland Road and the lower end of Winwick Street to remove through traffic, but allow buses, taxis and cyles
  • Restrictions on Academy Way to remove westbound through traffic, except cycles

Current measures

 

Image
Warrington town centre circulation plan - Nov 2020

How have we funded these changes?

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.

Future phases of improvements

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. 

Part of Scheme 3 (Town Centre Active Travel) would change many of the existing temporary measures in the town centre into permanent improvements.

We've now launched the consultation on this scheme. Our active travel consultation page will detail the measures we're proposing and how and when we'd like your feedback.

Consultation on schemes 1 and 2 haven't been programmed yet but will take place later in 2021 as we work on proposals in more detail.

Let us know your views

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