My Liberal Democrat Colleagues and I have branded Liverpool Council as being ‘totally incompetent’ over their decision to remove the West Derby Road Cycle Lane which has resulted in the Government halting funding for future cycling developments in the City.
Two years ago, the Council unanimously accepted that the climate change agenda was the key open for our City and demanded action to reduce our carbon footprint to 0 by 2030. We cannot do that without changing people’s travel methods.
As a city we need to encourage people to walk more, uses public transport more and cycle more. That is the only way we can reduce the air pollution which blights areas of the City mostly along our main roads.
We accept that the West Derby Road Scheme was not the best designed in the world and was introduced in too much haste with too little thought, but the haphazard way in which the Council has totally removed it without an understanding of what was wrong and how to modify it is wholly unacceptable.
If we are to reduce air pollution and the ill health that flows from it, we must do more to advance projects such as bus and cycle lanes. We cannot do that without learning from what we have done and from what others have done.
The West Derby scheme was far from perfect for any road users but about 5,000 cyclists a week were using it in each direction. We should have undertaken research to enable us to understand how improvements could be made. That research would have at the heart of it all road users including cyclists, pedestrians and the community. That research is now much more difficult to do as the users of the road will have immediately changed.
Such a review would then have been able to suggest ways in which the scheme could be improved so as to minimise adverse consequences and maximise the number of cyclists using the area.
Just chopping a scheme without that evaluation is a disgrace and is reminiscent of the arbitrary decision 6 years ago to chop the 33 bus lanes because the then Mayor did not like them.
I can understand why the Government has taken this action to cut off future funding for green travel plans given the £2 million+ that they gave us last year to implement cycle lane schemes. I don’t know how much we have lost because all schemes have to be bid for but it will certainly jeopardise the possibility of us losing £millions of government funding.
What the Council needs to do is to understand the successes and failures of all the temporary schemes that were established so that we can plan effectively for more and better cycle lanes in the future.
We all know that £68 million has been wasted on the Strand and Lime Street with even more money needed to dig up Lime Street when it is completed as we already know that the scheme is badly designed. So, in addition to understanding the cycling schemes the Council needs to think through its proposals for all road schemes and ensure that they meet the key council objectives relating to travel, transport and climate change.
We will get no more money from the Government for climate change actions until we can show that we can plan properly, implement properly and evaluate properly. For years I have listened to Labour whingeing about how little the Government gives. Then we can see that they have wasted more than £100,000,000 under Joe Anderson and now we see that they are making decisions which any Government would respond to by stopping the funding flow.
The arbitrary decision about West Derby Road shows that we are, once again, surrendering our roads to the car lobby and sending out entirely the wrong signals to cyclists, pedestrians and e-scooter users about new ways of doing things which will contribute to improved environments and greater road safety.