£588,000 boost for cycling and walking schemes

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Cheshire East Council is to develop new schemes to promote cycling and walking in the borough after being awarded £588,000 by the government.

The grant, which follows a successful bid by the council for a second phase of active travel funding from the Department for Transport, could see new schemes introduced on London Road, between Alderley Edge and Wilmslow, and Manchester Road between Wilmslow and Handforth.

The money will be used to encourage walking and cycling to boost health, as well as improve routes to schools and workplaces and access to our town centres.

The latest announcement follows £155,000 of first-phase funding, in August, which saw the development of eight emergency active travel schemes across seven Cheshire East towns.

The latest phase of schemes will be subject to public consultation in the new year, before being finalised and implemented. Unlike the first-phase emergency temporary schemes, it is intended that these new schemes will be permanent.

Councillor Laura Crane, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for highways and waste, said: "This is excellent news for local residents and their communities as we know ditching the car and taking up daily walking or cycling is good for your health and good for the environment. Creating a safer environment for walking and cycling in our towns will hopefully encourage more people out of their cars and to be more active.

"Recent surveys found that, across England, 65 per cent of people supported reallocating road space to walking and cycling in their local area and nearly eight out of 10 people support measures to reduce road traffic in their neighbourhood.

"This new funding will enable the council to consult before progressing more schemes to boost active travel infrastructure for our residents and make our towns and communities safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

"We are grateful too that, learning from the experience of the first phase, government has placed greater emphasis on community engagement and support than on speed of delivery. We welcome the scope for public consultation before schemes are implemented."

Among the schemes being considered for the next phase are:

● Manchester Road between Wilmslow and Handforth;

● Vernon Way, Mill Street and Nantwich Road, Crewe;

● Black Lane, Manchester Road and Sunderland Street, Macclesfield;

● High Street, Sandbach;

● West Street and Mill Street, Congleton;

● Various streets on the Knutsford Revolution cycle route;

● London Road, between Alderley Edge and Wilmslow; and

● St Ann's Road, Middlewich.

Cllr Crane added: "These are exciting projects and part of several steps being taken by this council to encourage more people to get active. We will continue to work with town and parish councils to shape the schemes that go forward for consultation. Our aim is to deliver active travel projects that are right for each town and developed in partnership with each local area and local members.

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

"We know that many people's travel behaviour has had to change during the Covid-19 lockdowns and we are determined to respond in a positive way to ensure more people can walk and cycle, to make our town centres safer, healthier and more welcoming to shoppers, residents and visitors.

"But these schemes have to be right for each specific location – which is why the public consultation and feedback is so important."

To view details of the current active travel measures in place and give feedback, visit:https://cheshireeastactivetravel.commonplace.is/