Wakefield Council has received almost £200,000 of Government funding to create temporary cycling and walking facilities across the district.
The West Yorkshire Combined Authority made a successful bid for a slice of the emergency active travel grant to create safer streets for active travel and public transport across West Yorkshire.
Wakefield has received the initial funding to support the installation of temporary projects in response to the coronavirus pandemic. A bid for funding for the creation of longer-term projects will be made next month.
Social distancing requirements have reduced the capacity of public transport so alternative options, such as cycling and walking, are being encouraged for journeys to work, education and shopping.
The creation of trial cycle lanes is being planned along a 500m section of Denby Dale Road in Wakefield from Calder Island Way to Holmfield Lane and along a 180m stretch of Southgate in Pontefract into the town centre – with the aim of providing lanes that are more attractive, to new and current cyclists, by allowing a greater distance from traffic. These are expected to be installed in September.
Cllr Matthew Morley, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Highways, said: “We’re really pleased to have received this funding to help us install temporary measures to help support social distancing and safe travel around the district.
“We want to encourage our residents to walk or cycle wherever possible, to reduce the reliance on a reduced public transport service and to do that, we need to create safe and attractive facilities and routes.
“Not only will this help free up limited spaces on public transport for those who really need it, but walking and cycling is a great way to get healthy, save money and is better for the environment.”
The grant will also help to provide measures at schools across the district – some of which have already been implemented at Stanley St Peter’s School in Wakefield, by restricting parking and using stencils and barriers to allow for footway widening – enabling social distancing to be maintained. The Council are working with schools to identify other locations that require measures which will be implemented in time for the planned reopening of all schools in September 2020.
Measures to widen existing paths, bridleways and cycle tracks by cutting back vegetation and other foliage is also being developed. Surfacing repairs are also being undertaken to support the safe use of roads for pedestrians and cyclists. Priority is being given to routes which provide access to key employment locations, such as hospitals and schools.
Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said: “We are pleased that the Government has recognised our ambition to put cycling and walking at the centre of our response to the transport challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The plan for future investment in cycling and walking, announced yesterday, will help us build on the significant progress we’ve already made to enable more people to travel by bike and on foot – and, indeed, strengthens our future plans for the £317 million Transforming Cities Fund announced earlier this year.
“New research is showing we need to increase cycling and walking trips by at least 2,000% and 78% respectively to achieve our aim of becoming a net zero carbon economy by 2038. Long-term, sustainable and flexible Government funding is absolutely vital in helping us meet these ambitions.”