3rd Aug, 2021

Coventry's Coundon cycle route 'wouldn't have been possible if Government had forced clean air zone'

WORK on a segregated cycle route between the city centre and Coundon would never have started if Coventry had been forced by the Government to introduce a chargeable clean air zone – that’s the view of councillors.

It comes as members take a final look at the city’s air quality plan which includes several highway schemes aimed at reducing congestion and improving traffic management on key routes into the city centre from the west, where NO2 levels are at their highest.

The plan is set to to the council’s Scrutiny Committee and before Cabinet at the start of December.

Coun Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, said it was the final stage in a long process where the council had convinced the Government it could address air quality issues with with improved transport schemes rather than simply charging motorists.

“In other words we are going to be able to make long lasting changes to local road networks while encouraging people to look at more sustainable travel choices.”

It is expected that the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit will give the green light to the schemes.

Work on the city centre to Coundon cycleway will begin in the coming weeks, followed by several other improvement schemes, using £24.5million grant funding awarded to implement them.

The council has also secured a further £5.8million grant from the West Midlands Combined Authority’s Transforming Cities Fund for the B4101 Spon End scheme – another of the highway schemes.

Engagement work undertaken on the A4600 corridor in 2018-20 (funded through early measures from the Joint Air Quality Unit) resulted in increased use of car alternatives.

School car journeys near the A4600, reduced by 8.5 per cent as more people walked, cycled and scootered. Residents also reduced single occupancy car trips by 11 per cent and walking and bus trips rose by nine per cent.

A range of other projects will encourage the uptake of zero emission vehicles, including the installation of one of the most extensive electric vehicle charging point networks in the country, with around 250 points installed to date and funding being secured for a further 100.

Working with National Express and Transport for West Midlands the council secured funding for ten electric buses, introduced in August 2020 and including solar panels and battery storage at the bus depot, meaning power to run the buses is generated on site.

The council also secured Highways England funding for the E-Fleet project and is currently procuring 70 electric vehicles, mostly vans, to operate as part of its fleet and for local businesses to borrow on a ‘try before you buy’ basis.

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