Chester sees massive 300 per cent increase in cycling

7 December 2020

Active Travel in Chester brings a 300 per cent increase in cycling.

An Active Travel lane into Chester city centre has seen a 300 per cent increase in the number of cyclists using it over the weekend. 

Before the trial lanes were introduced at the beginning of October, the A51 Boughton Road, saw 77 cyclists use it over 12 hours on a Saturday. 

The latest figures reveal that the same lane has seen 252 riders use it over a comparable 12-hour period. The number of cyclists using the road rather than the footway has also increased during this time. 

While the use of public transport has been less than pre-COVID times, and more people have been working from home, both trial active travel lanes are busy bus routes with a high number of services operating to ensure social distancing can be maintained.  

There are around 450 buses and coaches travelling along the A51 between 7am and 7pm weekdays and 350 on Saturdays. On the A5116 there are around 240 buses and coaches between 7am and 7pm weekdays and 200 on Saturdays.

The trial Active Travel lanes are in place to help both cyclists and public transport and one bus operator is already noticing the improvements.

Matt Davies, Managing Director, Stagecoach Merseyside & South Lancashire said: “The new trial active travel lanes on the A5116 Liverpool Road through Upton and the A51 from Boughton, have already benefitted bus services through improving punctuality and reliability and reducing journey times. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the impact that poor air quality has on our communities and as we begin to focus our efforts on recovery, we must ensure it is a green one.

“Only by focussing on public transport, cycling and walking will we reduce our dependency on the private car and ease congestion and improve air quality.

“We are confident that the improved journey times and bus reliability delivered by the active travel lanes, together with contactless payments and live bus tracking will encourage much greater use of public transport as our society emerges from the crisis.”

In the first month of the Active Travel lanes, the average two-way weekday flow between 7am and 7pm on the two trial routes was roughly 20,500 vehicles on the A51 and 12,000 vehicles on the A5116.  

The average daily flows on Cheshire’s A roads from Saturday, 26 September to Sunday, 25 October were down by approximately 24 per cent when compared to the same dates last year, due to the impacts of the COVID pandemic on travel behaviours.

Councillor Karen Shore, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport said: “The trial measures we have put in place are aimed at making the journey into Chester as easy and environmentally friendly as possible. 

“Early results are encouraging and have certainly benefited cyclists. The trial is for six months and if we are successful in encouraging people away from unnecessary use of the private car, particularly for short trips, then we will all benefit from less pollution, help to protect the climate and provide sustainable support to the city’s economy. We continue to listen to residents and businesses during the trial period.”

As well as study the volume and make-up of traffic on the roads, the council is investigating how the changes could make the air cleaner. Air quality monitors are positioned along both Active Travel routes which measure pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and particulates as well as weather data.

The latest data will be made available to the new Sustainable Transport Taskforce who will meet virtually on Thursday, 10 December 2020 commencing at 5.30pm.  

Anyone wishing to attend the Taskforce meeting should request joining instructions before midday on 10 December via transportstrategy@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk.

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