Report finds residents want more money spent on ‘active travel’ schemes

A majority of residents in the Liverpool City Region want to move money currently spent on road building to fund more infrastructure that helps people walk, wheel, cycle or use public transport, according to a new report by the charity Sustrans with The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

The Liverpool City Region Walking and Cycling Index is part of the largest-ever survey of walking, wheeling, and cycling in the UK and Ireland.

Statistics taken from an independent survey of 1,167 residents in the city region found that 59% of residents supported shifting investment from road building schemes to fund walking, wheeling, cycling (active travel), and public transport, with only 13% opposed to that idea.

The survey is representative of all adult residents, not just those who walk or cycle.

Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, has pledged to deliver a 600km active travel network across all six boroughs of the Liverpool City Region – Halton, Knowlsey, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens, and Wirral – with more than £70m committed so far to developing new and upgraded walking and cycling routes.

More than 40km of new walking and cycling infrastructure have already been built in the region over the past three years, including flagship routes separate from traffic on the Silver Jubilee Bridge in Runcorn and Lime Street in Liverpool city centre.

The Index comes out every two years and is one of 23 reports in cities and urban areas. The report found that more people in the Liverpool City Region used forms of active travel or public transport than drove.

Almost half (48%) walked or wheeled (used a mobility aid such as a mobility scooter or wheelchair) five or more times a week, 4% cycled and 14% used public transport, compared to 47% who drove.

There is significant potential for more people to travel actively and sustainably. The evidence shows this will have longer-term benefits on health, environment, and the economy.

More than half of respondents (51%) said they would like to walk or wheel more, 43% wanted to cycle more and 35% wanted to use more public transport. Only 12% said they wanted to drive more.

Results from the Walking and Cycling Index showed that people want improvements on their streets to help them walk, wheel and cycle.

More than half (57%) of residents in the city region supported building more cycle lanes physically separated from traffic and pedestrians (19% against), while 77% would be helped to walk more by more frequent road crossings with reduced wait times.

Three quarters (75%) of people in the Liverpool City Region say they would be helped by wider pavements, while 78% would benefit from better pavement accessibility like level surfaces and more dropped kerbs at crossing points.

Sustrans is the UK wide charity that helps more people walk, wheel and cycle their journeys.

Rosslyn Colderley, Director for Sustrans in the North of England said, “This report clearly shows that if conditions improved on our streets there is significant potential to help more residents walk, wheel and cycle in Liverpool City Region.

“Long term, sustained investment in high quality infrastructure is key to unlocking this untapped demand.

“Liverpool City Region has made significant progress in improving conditions for people travelling by foot, mobility aid or cycle, but there is still so much more to do.

“People told us they want to see smoother, wider pavements, more pedestrian crossings and safer cycling routes separate from traffic.

“The results of this independent survey demonstrate that government can have confidence that they have the green light from local people to continue to spend more public money on active travel.”

Simon O’Brien, Cycling and Walking Commissioner for the Liverpool City Region said, “The evidence is clear; people in our region want to see better, safer walking and cycling routes – and more of them.

“Thanks to this report we now know that most residents not only want to walk and cycle more, but also that they back our approach to building new routes, reducing car traffic and bringing down carbon emissions.

“Mayor Rotheram has already committed more than £70m to develop 600km of footpaths and cycleways across our region. Work is well underway on the delivery of the first phase of this network, and we have a plan to make sure the excellent infrastructure we have is properly linked up.

“If we are to truly take on the enormous challenges of the climate emergency, a public health crisis, air pollution, congestion, mental health and overall quality of life we have to work hard and at serious pace to make taking journeys by bike or on foot safer and more convenient – and this document shows us that local residents are behind us.”

Results demonstrate clear demand for active travel and public transport infrastructure, as the region gains more control over public spending for transport.

The report highlights that Mayor Steve Rotherham plans to build a London-style public transport network, with better integration between active travel routes and the region’s new fleets of publicly-owned, battery-powered new trains and zero-emission buses.

Read the Liverpool City Region Walking and Cycling Index

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