Trial cycle and bus lanes to open in Chester to support increasing numbers of road users leaving their cars at home

25 August 2020

In a bid to support and boost levels of active travel and public transport use across the borough, Cheshire West and Chester Council will open two trial lanes for cyclists, buses, taxis, motorcyclists and the emergency services in Chester on Tuesday 8 September. 
 
The new lanes will be implemented on the A5116 between the Dale Camp roundabout and Upton Grange crossroads, and on the A51 in Boughton by The Bars roundabout for a trial period of six months. 
 
The schemes will be reviewed in two months, taking on board feedback gathered from local road users to determine if any changes are required.
 
More and more people have taken up cycling during the recent pandemic period and the lanes are part of an innovative approach to encourage more people to cycle in a safe environment. Buses, motorcycles and emergency vehicles will also make use of the space.
 
Part of the Council’s Walk Ride Thrive campaign encouraging increased levels of walking and cycling, the lanes are expected to support the ambition to tackle the climate emergency and become a carbon neutral borough. 
 
They have been informed by Government’s ‘Gear Change’ vision published in July. This sets out ambitions to seek a step change in cycling and walking in the coming years, considered essential to address some of the most challenging issues that we face as a society including improving air quality, combatting climate change, improving health and wellbeing, addressing inequalities and tackling traffic congestion. 
 
Funded by £161,000 from the Department for Transport’s Emergency Active Travel Fund to help improve cycling and walking routes in the borough, Government was clear that it wanted to see fast and radical green plans for the funding, and this has led to the project moving quicker than usually seen.
 
Cllr Karen Shore, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport said: “Work to install the lanes began late last week and is still being completed. Unfortunately, road signage to explain the works was not put in place immediately and this has caused some confusion amongst road users. This was an operational error; we’ve listened to the feedback we’ve had over the last 48 hours and I’d like to reassure everyone that signage is now installed at both locations. I’d like to apologise to residents for the inconvenience caused and offer reassurance that we are working hard to ensure communications are clear going forward. 
 
“We will be monitoring traffic on both of these roads closely once the lanes are in operation from Tuesday September 8. We have the ability to change and adapt the scheme at every stage, both on the ground, and by changing the traffic light sequencing.” 
 
Cllr Matt Bryan, Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency said: “Despite this rocky start the Council has high aspirations to support all residents and businesses to make environmentally friendly decisions about how they move around our towns and city. We’ve seen the numbers of people taking up cycling rapidly rise and we want to support that by making it as easy as possible for people to get around, including improving public transport for all.
 
“As well as the obvious health benefits this has it also reduces the number of cars on the road – reducing emissions, improving air quality and helping to tackle to climate emergency. 
 
“In a report we commissioned last year it was identified that 74 per cent of employed residents travel to work by car and if we are to meeting our climate targets by 2030 we will have to see a 27 per cent reduction in car travel by that time. 
 
“This is an innovative and progressive trial and I hope that residents, businesses and visitors can support us while we try to create real health and environmental improvements for our city. We’d like to hear more from residents throughout the trial period on their experiences so they can help shape where the trial goes.”
 
Residents were asked for their comments on the Council’s recently adopted Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan earlier this year with many local people supporting aspirations for better cycling provision in the borough. 

Over the trial period residents will have the opportunity to share their views on the routes as part of a consultation exercise. Comments received will help shape whether to continue with the scheme and identify potential improvements and ways to take the project further. To have your say on the new routes, please send through any comments to transportstrategy@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk.

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