Steve Rotheram outlines 10-year plan for a cycling and walking ‘revolution’ with 600km of new paths and a push to persuade people to abandon their cars. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram is calling for a cycling and walking “revolution” as he urges people to leave their cars at home.
Mr Rotheram is presenting his long-term plan for 600km of new and upgraded foot and bike paths across all six local authority areas – Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Sefton and Wirral – over the next decade to the Combined Authority.
More than £16m in funding has already been committed to the first seven key routes, with construction set to begin next year and he claims the strategy would improve air quality by reducing emissions, have a positive impact on health and wellbeing and help to boost the regional economy.
The network of foot and cycle paths will be linked to the wider transport network including buses, Mersey Ferries and the new trains arriving on the Merseyrail network from 2020 which offer level access and more storage space for bikes.
The Liverpool City Region has set a target to become zero carbon by 2040, with schemes to support walking and cycling initiatives having already cut carbon emissions in the city region by 1,600 tonnes per year – equivalent to taking 350 cars off the road.
Research also shows that active travel can help improve people’s health and wellbeing. Regular walking and cycling reduces the risk of conditions like heart disease or stroke by 1/3, potentially saving the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds over the next decade.
Mr Rotheram said: “We are living through a climate emergency – and it is our duty to leave a cleaner planet for future generations, but we need to work together to achieve this. That’s why I’m calling for an active travel revolution in our city region.
“Building and improving our network of walking and cycling routes to make them safer and easier to use is vital, but we also need to make sure they’re part of our plans for a fully integrated local transport network.
“But it’s not only about building infrastructure – we need a cultural shift so that people think about walking and cycling as a genuine alternative to the car. That’s why we’re driving forward with schemes to help people to travel by bike or foot, regardless of their background.”
So far, the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has piloted, backed and funded a host of schemes designed to make walking and cycling easier, safer and more accessible to residents.
These include training more than 8,000 young people in cycle safety and supporting hundreds of co-workers at over a dozen companies across the city region to commute together on foot.