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Walking and cycling schemes to boost Cheshire East’s Covid-19 recovery

Cheshire East Council has revealed its first active travel projects as part of plans to support the borough through recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nine new schemes will come into effect this month as a first phase to improve routes to schools and workplaces, boost social distancing, encourage walking and cycling and improve access our town centres. Measures will also help to reserve capacity on public transport for those who really need it and should help to reduce congestion on some key routes to schools. Further schemes will be developed in further phases, following pledged government funding of up to £619,000. 

The move follows recent submissions by town and parish councils and local members of more than 500 local ideas as to what measures may work in their towns and villages. 

The first nine active travel schemes, totalling investment of £155,000, will be located at:

  • Coronation Street, Crewe, near Sir William Stanier School – 20mph zone and through traffic restricted to cyclists and pedestrians;
  • Crewe town centre – improved access for cycles;
  • Congleton town centre – improved access for cycles;
  • Macclesfield town centre – improved access for cycles;
  • Ivy Road, Macclesfield – through traffic restricted to buses, cyclists and pedestrians;
  • Hawthorn Lane, Wilmslow – through traffic restricted to cyclists and pedestrians;
  • Old Middlewich Road, Sandbach – 20mph zone and parking suspension;
  • Ladies Mile, Knutsford – through traffic restricted to cyclists and pedestrians; and
  • Lodge Road, Alsager – through traffic restricted to cyclists and pedestrians.

Councillor Laura Crane, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for highways and waste, said: “This is exciting news and the part of steps by this council to promote social distancing and encourage more people to get active and cycle and walk more. 

“I would like again to thank everyone who has worked with us so quickly to get active travel ideas and proposals up and running so swiftly in our towns and villages. 

“We know people’s travel behaviour has changed during the lockdown – and we are determined to lock in the benefits of more people walking and cycling to make our town centres safer, healthier and more welcoming to shoppers and visitors.

“We have seen an increase in more people walking and cycling in our borough and as more people turn to these active ways of travel, we need to work together to provide safe spaces for people to carry out these journeys.

“These initial projects are, by their very nature and the short timescales involved, an experiment. We will continue to work with the town and parish councils to develop, review and refine these measures and others, as appropriate, before anything becomes permanent. 

“Our aim is to deliver schemes that are right for each town and developed in partnership with each local area and local members.” 

Councillor Suzie Akers Smith, Cheshire East Council’s walking and cycling champion, said: “Ditching the car and taking up daily active travel is good for your health, good for the environment and good for promoting social distancing to combat Covid-19. Creating a safe environment will encourage people out of their cars and be more active.

“It also helps make our town centres safer and more attractive places to visit, spend time and spend money.

“There has never been a better time to walk or cycle – especially shorter journeys included as part of our daily activity – and this really helps to forge greener habits, to reduce congestion, improve air quality and help fight climate change.

“Being bold in these measures may attract additional funding from government and we welcome feedback both positive and negative on the measures being proposed.”

The council aims to develop a series of projects, informed by discussions with town and parish councils and ward members, that will be delivered in coming weeks, including:

  • Pop-up cycle lanes, with protected spaces for cycling;
  • Measures to reduce rat-running in streets;
  • Improved walking and cycling routes to school;
  • Safer junctions, with the potential for bus and cycle-only corridors;
  • Implementing lower speed limits; and
  • Wider pavements, which also enables social distancing. 

Schemes being considered as part of the second phase of active travel improvements to be constructed in the Autumn, subject to the Council receiving DfT funding include: 

  • Manchester Road between Wilmslow and Handforth;
  • Vernon Way, Mill Street and Nantwich Road in Crewe;
  • Black Lane, Manchester Road and Sunderland Street in Macclesfield;
  • High Street in Sandbach;
  • West Street and Mill Street in Congleton;
  • Various streets on the Knutsford Revolution Cycle Route;
  • London Road between Alderley Edge and Wilmslow;
  • St Ann’s Road in Middlewich 

Detailed plans for active travel measures can be found on the Cheshire Active Travel website.

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