The first phase of Cheshire East’s Emergency Active Travel Fund allocation will go towards allowing cycling through town centre pedestrian zones along with restricting through traffic and adding 20mph limits speed to a handful of other roads.
Cheshire East states the nine measures, using £155,000 from Tranche 1 of the funding, are in place as of 12th August 2020. The council has launched a consultation website powered by Commonplace to gather views on the interventions.
In Macclesfield, Congleton and Crewe, existing town centre pedestrian zones will see new Traffic Regulation Orders to become “Pedestrian and Cycle Zones”, improving links across the towns where useful cycle links may currently be severed.
The measures also include filtered road closures to through motor traffic, some with large 20mph zones. The full list of schemes is as follows:
- Coronation Street, Crewe
- Crewe town centre
- Congleton town centre
- Macclesfield town centre
- Ivy Road, Macclesfield
- Hawthorn Lane, Wilmslow
- Old Middlewich Road, Sandbach
- Ladies Mile, Knutsford
- Lodge Road, Alsager
A brief scan through the public comments so far suggests plenty of agreement but largely wide-ranging disapproval for many of the measures. Though many are of the “cyclists are bad”, “better things to spend money on” calibre, this does seem to be another example of measures not quite going far enough to feel worthwhile for anyone.
While some motorists may dislike any road closures, if they’re poorly chosen or don’t meaningfully enable new safe cycle routes then cyclists can equally dislike them as a sop to the cycling cause while whipping up negative sentiment against the whole idea of reallocating space away from cars in the first place.
In most cases allowing cycling through large town centre pedestrian zones makes complete sense, though if it’s the only “emergency” measure being implemented it’s not hard to see it as just swapping some pedestrian space for cycling, while failing to change the status quo of the roads — which was the whole point of this funding.
“The government expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians,” said Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, when he launched the £225m pot of funding in May 2020. The Department for Transport’s letter to local transport authority officers went further, explicitly stating: “Anything that does not meaningfully alter the status quo on the road will not be funded.”
In Macclesfield, it could be argued the problem has never been the pedestrianised centre but the thoroughly unpleasant ring of intimidating and hostile roads which surround it, with few good linkages and crossings for cycling. Once you reach the main shopping area, bicycle parking is practically non-existent except for a few stands north of the Town Hall.
Schemes being considered for Cheshire East’s second phase of active travel improvements in the Autumn with a further £619,000 of funding include:
- 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
- St Ann’s Road, Middlewich
So far, nothing appears to be being taken forward for Poynton, despite the town council itself suggesting pop-up cycle lanes (lanes created out of temporary cones) on the stupendously wide but still unpleasant London Road North between the town and the A555 cycleway. This would create a superb link between the town and many areas of Stockport overnight.