New active travel lanes open in Chester

5 October

New experimental active travel lanes for cyclists and buses started today, 5 October, on the A5116 Liverpool Road and A51 Boughton for travel to and from Chester.

As the number of COVID-19 cases is rising in west Cheshire, the provision of dedicated facilities to encourage journeys being made by cycling and walking are even more important.  More physical activity also provides longer-term benefits to the NHS.

Consultation during the summer for ‘Stronger Futures’ and ‘Walk, Ride Thrive’ gave a clear message from residents that there was a need for more active travel opportunities, reductions in speeding and tackling the climate emergency for a greener and sustainable future.

The lanes going live coincide with Clean Air Day. The campaign normally takes place in June, however, due to COVID-19, this year Clean Air Day is taking place on 8 October. The national campaign was established to increase awareness of how air pollution affects health.

The new lanes on the A5116 between the Dale Camp roundabout and Upton Grange crossroads, and on the A51 in Boughton by The Bars roundabout will operate for an initial trial period of six months. The schemes will be constantly reviewed, and they can be changed and adapted at every stage. Cameras are now in place to monitor traffic volumes on both roads.
 
The new lanes coincide with the return of Park and Ride buses last week from Chester Zoo to the Chester Bus Interchange. Fares are now half price with a return to Chester costing just £1 per person and free parking and travel to the Countess of Chester Hospital for NHS workers.

Additional safety measures are in place on Park and Ride buses including the requirement to wear face masks or coverings, there are shields between drivers and passengers and contactless payment is available.

The Government’s ‘Gear Change’ vision, highlights a once in a generation opportunity to accelerate active travel. Councils were told to re-allocate road space for significantly increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians, with some streets becoming bus and bike only.  

Councillor Karen Shore, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport said: “The new lanes are in place to address challenging issues. As a country we must tackle some of the most difficult issues that we face as a society including; improving air quality, combatting climate change, improving health and wellbeing, addressing inequalities and tackling traffic congestion. There is no easy solution, but during the summer we could see the difference fewer vehicles on the roads made to air quality.

“The new lanes are to promote an increase in cycling and public transport. This is very much an experimental process, and we will continue to listen and learn.

“The measures to combat COVID-19 are ever changing. Future measures from the Government may change the rules on travel. We’ve seen essential travel only in neighbouring areas. This may result in less demand for public transport but the additional safety measures in place will allow buses to still be used with a safer environment than car sharing outside your family bubble. If further restrictions are announced, then cycling and walking will be even more important means of travel.”

Further changes to traffic management in the city centre were announced today, a new Clockwise traffic scheme for the inner road is being introduced in November and will be in place during construction of a rainwater drain for Chester. Cycling, walking and public transport will be the best ways to travel into the city centre to reduce the number vehicles while these arrangements are in place.

To have your say on the new routes, please send comments email: transportstrategy@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk

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