More people have turned to cycling and walking to get around during the COVID-19 lockdown and a new Liverpool City Region transport survey has found that almost 60% say they will continue this even as restrictions are lifted.
75% of people surveyed also supported the construction of new cycle lanes, secure storage or the widening of pavements.
£30m has been committed to the first phase of 373 miles of walking and cycling networks, with plans underway for a rapid roll-out of new pop-up bike lanes and other alternative measures
The research demonstrates public support for Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram’s recent statement on the acceleration of plans to support both walking and cycling within the city region.
The online survey discovered that respondents were using public transport less, indicating that many were following Merseyrail’s guidance to, ‘ReThink Travel’ (further information can be found here) the majority also said they had undertaken journeys by foot, 86% having walked for exercise and 64% to pick up essential items, such as food or medicine.
36% of people who responded also said they had cycled during the lockdown, with 50% of these having access to a car; indicating that a number of people are taking the option to leave their cars at home in favour of cycling.
The research into changing travel habits was conducted by Merseytravel and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Transport Plan.
In May, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Simon O’Brien, Liverpool City Region Walking and Cycling Commissioner announced plans for the 373-mile network of new and upgraded cycle and footpaths to be fast-tracked, with more than £30m committed in the first stage.
Further consultation is also happening with councils in Liverpool, Knowsley, Halton, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral, for the speedy roll-out of temporary measures to make active travel safer and easier.
Support for the proposals is very high, with around 75% of people saying they favoured the introduction of pop-up cycle lanes, 72% for widened footpaths for easier social distancing and 77% for secure cycle parking and storage at key sites such as workplaces, hospitals, and railway stations.
Steve Rotheram said, “We know that more people across the region are walking and cycling and the news that the majority want this to continue once lockdown restrictions are lifted is very positive. That’s why we’re pushing forward as quickly as possible with new measures to make walking and cycling safer and easier, like pop-up cycle lanes and widened pavements. Working with our local councils we’re accelerating and broadening our plans across the city region – to make sure we continue to help people stay active, travel safely and keep the cleaner air we have experienced during lockdown – all as part of our ambition to build back better. We are working hard to secure even more money from the government’s emergency active travel fund to add to our existing £30 million cycling and walking pot for the city region and I am hopeful that we will have more good news very soon.”
Simon O’Brien, Walking and Cycling Commissioner for the Liverpool City Region said: “This virus has had a terrible impact on the Liverpool City Region, but not all of the ways it has changed our lives have been negative. More people across the city region are now getting about by bike or on foot and finding it has huge benefits for their health and wellbeing and for the quality of air we breathe. It’s great to find that so many people want to carry on walking and cycling even after restrictions are lifted and that the overwhelming majority support the building of new bike lanes and cycle parking, as planned. And over the next few weeks and months, whilst these measures are put in place, I’ll be sharing a few tips on how people across the city region can make the most out of their journeys by bike or on foot.”