The Southport Walking and Cycling Route will be extended after Sefton Council was awarded £790,000 to pursue the scheme.
The council installed pop-up cycle lanes in Southport town centre last year in the first part of the scheme.
Queens Road was closed to vehicles (except buses), parking spaces were removed from Hoghton Street to accommodate cycle lanes, a cycling ban on Chapel Street was overturned and Talbot Street was also made more cyclist friendly.
The scheme was due to appear for a six-month trial period with a decision on whether to make it permanent due to be made this February.
Sefton Council has now been awarded £700,000 from the Government through the Department for Transport’s ‘Gear Change’ initiative to extend the existing route north towards Churchtown and Crossens and south towards Birkdale.
The local authority previously said that the new route could be extended to the south along Alma Road to Birkdale and York Road and Trafalgar Road to Smedley Hydro and to the north along the A565 to connect Churchtown and Crossens to the town centre. Exact details of the proposed new routes have not yet been revealed.
A further £90,000 has been provided to support a ‘School Streets’ programme to block traffic and deter parents from dropping off or picking up pupils around Greenbank High, Birkdale High and Stanley High.
The proposals will be discussed at the Sefton Public Engagement and Consultation Panel meeting this Friday (15 January).
In his report to councillors, Sefton Council Principal Officer – Policy and Sustainable Travel Lee Davies said: “The Government has released further funding to support its strategy to support walking and cycling ‘Gear Change’. “The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority completed a review of a list of potential schemes and concluded that an extension of the Southport Walking and Cycling Route should be included in the bid.
“From this bid Sefton Council were successfully awarded £700,000 to further support walking and cycling in Southport plus a further £90,000 to support School Streets.
“We need to understand the view of people living, studying, visiting, working and travelling along the Southport Walking and Cycling Route so that we can seek approval for the scheme to establish a safe walking and cycling route in line with our 2030 vision of a confident connected borough where people can enjoy the many cycle and walking friendly routes and in support of our Climate Change Emergency Plan.”
Sefton Council faced some heavy criticism for a lack of consultation with local residents and businesses in Southport town centre before the initial pup-up cycle lanes were installed.
This was partly due to the ‘emergency’ nature of the funding allocated, which was provided during the early months of the Covid-19 crisis.
The pandemic saw a rise in walking and cycling with less journeys by car, with councillors keen to change how people travel in future.
The council is keen to consult with local residents and businesses over the extension to the scheme.
Lee Davies said: “Sefton Council have adopted their Climate Change Emergency Plan, which sets out how we will take steps to reduce our carbon emissions.
“Transforming the way we live and work is a big part of this plan. One thing we can do is to keep on walking and cycling.
“We will be supporting this by creating safe walking and cycling routes to Southport as part of this funding. Our vision for Sefton is a confident and connected borough where people can enjoy the use of many cycle and walking friendly routes and we all work together to keep Sefton clean and green with a commitment to low pollution and better air quality.
“This investment from Government will help us to make a big improvement for local people so they can walk and cycle safely.
“Many of our residents in North Sefton do not have access to a car and we want to help people to continue to walk and cycle to get out and about to places. We plan to help people by creating safe walking and cycling routes in Southport.
“We have seen a dramatic increase in people walking and cycling in our borough during lockdown, as our roads and streets get busier with traffic, we want to give people the opportunity to keep up with their healthy habits.
“We plan to do this by extending the walking and cycling route in Southport.”