More people have turned to walking and cycling to get around during the Coronavirus lockdown, and a Liverpool City Region transport survey has found that 59% expect to continue this even as restrictions are lifted.

The findings demonstrate public backing for Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s recent announcement of the broadening and acceleration of plans to support walking and cycling in the city region.

The online survey revealed that whilst respondents were using buses and trains less – indicating that most were following guidance to ReThink Travel – the majority said they had taken journeys by foot, with 86% saying they had walked for exercise and 64% to pick up essential items like food or medicines.

More than a third of people (36%) who responded to the survey also said they had cycled during lockdown, with half of these people having access to a car, indicating that a number of people are choosing to leave their cars at home in favour of the bike.

The research into changing travel habits was conducted to help Merseytravel and the Combined Authority with future transport planning.

Last month Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Liverpool City Region Walking and Cycling Commissioner Simon O’Brien announced that plans for a 600km network of new and upgraded cycle-ways and footpaths would be fast-tracked, with more than £30m committed in the first phase.

Planning is also underway with councils in Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral for the rapid roll-out of temporary measures to make active travel easier and safer.

Support for these measures is very high, with around three-quarters of people saying they backed the introduction of pop-up cycle lanes (75%), widened footpaths to allow easier social distancing (72%) and secure cycle parking and storage at key locations including hospitals, work places and rail stations (77%).

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said: “We know that more people across the region are walking and cycling and the news that the majority want this to continue once lockdown restrictions are lifted is very positive. That’s why we’re pushing forward as quickly as possible with new measures to make walking and cycling safer and easier, like pop-up cycle lanes and widened pavements.

“Working with our local councils we’re accelerating and broadening our plans across the city region – to make sure we continue to help people stay active, travel safely and keep the cleaner air we have experienced during lockdown – all as part of our ambition to build back better.”

“We are working hard to secure even more money from the government’s emergency active travel fund to add to our existing £30million cycling and walking pot for the city region and I am hopeful that we will have more good news very soon.”

Simon O’Brien, Walking and Cycling Commissioner for the Liverpool City Region said: “This virus has had a terrible impact on the Liverpool City Region, but not all of the ways it has changed our lives have been negative.

“More people across the city region are now getting about by bike or on foot and finding it has huge benefits for their health and wellbeing and for the quality of air we breathe.

“It’s great to find that so many people want to carry on walking and cycling even after restrictions are lifted, and that the overwhelming majority support the building of new bike lanes and cycle parking, as planned.

And over the next few weeks and months, whilst these measures are put in place, I’ll be sharing a few tips on how people across the city region can make the most out of their journeys by bike or on foot.”