Cycle schemes could 'rejuvenate' Crewe town centre says active travel campaigner

  Posted: 22.02.21 at 14:05 by The Editor

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THE pandemic is changing the way we travel.

When restrictions ease many of us could be looking at ways to get around that chime with the schemes put forward by Cheshire East Council to encourage cycling and walking.

Residents in the borough have been invited to give their views on a second phase of active travel schemes, two of them in Crewe.

A new cycle route is proposed along a section of Vernon Way up to West Street, while a traffic order could be put in place to allow cyclists to ride freely in the heart of the town centre along Market Street, Queensway and Victoria Street.

The Crewe schemes are among five new active travel projects across Cheshire East towns to attract £588,000 of Department for Transport funding.

Feedback has been slow so far, but the borough council has extended its consultation until March 3. While the authority's walking and cycling champion, Cllr Suzie Akers Smith bills the schemes as "exciting proposals", the very mention of council consultations do tend to be a switch off for many.

But Ben Wye, who runs pressure group ACTive Crewe Travel, believes there needs to be debate on the schemes - particularly as the Vernon Way project is presented as a choice of several options - to ensure a healthier and cleaner, as well as more sociable town.

Ben, an active cycling campaigner around town since he moved up north from London, believes Crewe has a proud history of championing the use of the bike stretching back to an era when it was the preferred mode of transport for employees at Crewe Works and Bentley, previously Rolls Royce.

He tells Nub News why we need to give these proposals for Vernon Way and the town centre our very serious consideration.

The recent HS2 announcement means Crewe's future could be transformed even faster than we expected - but we can shape how it changes.

In the next few weeks residents have great opportunities to have their say on how Cheshire East Council spends government money on projects that affect the lives of all of us.

They are - Active Travel, Transport planning and Air Quality.

This is an opportunity to create a cleaner, healthier, more sociable town, as well as resisting the climate emergency. According to the Met office within our lifetimes locally we will see more flooding higher temperatures and social disruption, unless action is taken now.

For example you could give up meat, turn your heating down, or simply support these plans to enable everyone else to walk and cycle instead of drive. Doing nothing is not an option.

Your ideas about immediate Active Travel infrastructure are needed by March 3:

• Vernon Way: do you want a shared path on the pavement, a cycle track in the road or the use of the grass verge?
• Crewe town centre: should cyclists be allowed on the roads now restricted to specific hours?
• Coronation Street: should this and adjacent streets be limited to 20mph and include a build out to protect pupils at Sir William Stanier School?

The longer term and wider transport issues are addressed in the Local town transport delivery plans to improve access to Crewe town centre and station to shape regeneration and growth

There is an enormous amount of detail to consider by March 31. They include:

• Supporting access to education and employment sites, including Crewe UTC and South Cheshire College, Crewe Business Park, Bentley, Leighton Hospital and Grand Junction Retail Park
• Improving transport connections along key routes to Nantwich, Sandbach and Middlewich
• Supporting access from rural communities like Church Minshull, Haslington, Worleston and Weston to key services and employment within Crewe

Success in improving air could be largely due to the temporary halving of traffic flows during lockdowns. The only substantial action to improve air quality in Crewe seems to be to maintain road markings and review the traffic lights and crossings on the Nantwich Road. You have until March 12 to share your thoughts.

The way people shop, work and travel has changed due to the coronavirus pandemic. In Crewe, we have a unique opportunity to build a community fit for all our futures.

Most of us will have to rely without a vehicle at some time. You could have a hidden disability or need to use a cycle as a mobility aid. Sadly 50 per cent report not being able to continue their journey due to poor infrastructure and obstruction and that keeps many elderly folk from getting out at all.

Cycling not only helps improve health and wellbeing, but it can benefit employers from a diverse workforce and improve local and national economies from increased access to shops.

High growth development could choke the town, or we could create safe routes that will enable anyone to walk or cycle rather than add to the danger, pollution and congestion of increased traffic.

Active travel is good for you, and good for Crewe!

Cheshire East's consultation runs until March 3. To find out more and have your say visit here.

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