Call to make village centre walker and cyclist-friendly

A local parish council has called on Cheshire East Council to encourage more people to walk and cycle by making changes to a village centre.
Holmes Chapel Parish Council has written to Coun Laura Crane, Cabinet member for highways, asking her what steps Cheshire East Council will take to encourage more people to walk or cycle rather than use cars or buses.
The letter from Holmes Chapel follows a similar call in Congleton for changes to roads and paths by the Active Travel Congleton group. It called for the removal of parking spaces and reducing through-traffic within the town centre.
Cheshire East Council cycling and walking champion Coun Suzie Akers Smith also recently asked the council Cabinet if it would consider measures to enable social distancing including wider pavements, temporary 20mph speed limits and the provision of more cycle lanes.
These would be used as a trial towards more permanent changes. Cheshire East agreed to consider the suggestion.
The parish council told Coun Crane that it had identified three ways in which the roads and footways in Holmes Chapel could be made safer for walkers and cyclists.
The three measures are:
• Imposing a temporary 20mph speed limit on the main roads leading through the village. The most important of these are Macclesfield Road (from Saltersford Corner to the village), Station Road (“especially over the railway bridge”), Chester Road and Middlewich Road.
• Using cones and barriers to widen footways. The most important area for this would be along Macclesfield Road (Saltersford Corner to Victoria Mills).
• Creating a temporary cycle lane down both sides of the A50 (London Road) from the new Bluebell estate to the village.
Said the letter: “These measures could be implemented in a short space of time at very limited cost yet would make a significant impact to the safety of residents and their ability to effectively implement social distancing, especially if the schools re-open on 1st June”.
The parish council also said it wanted to talk to Coun Crane about other issues, previously discussed with late Coun Brian Roberts.
These include a Holmes Chapel traffic and transport report, a beyond 2030 report and a report on a better pedestrian and cycling environment. These were presented to the former leader of the council, Coun Rachel Bailey and subsequently to the current leader Coun Sam Corcoran, but the council said that so far it had had a “very limited response” from Cheshire East on any of the points raised.
The Government itself has backed plans such as those proposed for Holmes Chapel. Grant Shapps, the secretary of state for transport, recently said that the Government expected local authorities to make “significant changes” to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians.
“Such changes will help embed altered behaviours and demonstrate the positive effects of active travel,” he said.
A statutory guidance note from his department said: “Active travel (ie walking and cycling) is affordable, delivers significant health benefits, has been shown to improve wellbeing, mitigates congestion, improves air quality and has no carbon emissions at the point of use.
“Towns and cities based around active travel will have happier and healthier citizens as well as lasting local economic benefits.”
The guidance included measures that should be taken, such as reducing speed limits to 20mph; introducing pedestrian and cycle zones; restricting access for motor vehicles at certain times or at all times to specific streets, or networks of streets, particularly town centres and high streets; using cones and barriers to widen footways along lengths of road, particularly outside shops and transport hubs, and providing more space at bus stops to allow people to queue and socially distance.