Dean and his partner Hannah set up an Icelandic themed coffee shop in Liverpool in 2018 after being inspired by the relaxed vibes of Rekjavik cafes. Here, Dean explains how lockdown helped transform his view of walking and cycling and discusses the benefits of green spaces in helping local businesses to grow.
We’re a coffee shop by day and a bar by night. We’re in the middle of the village with a lot of restaurants, bars, takeaways, as well as residential buildings.
Less traffic meant I could walk more
Cars are a problem around here. In the evening there is a lot of traffic. Sometimes they’re going at 50 miles an hour.
We’ve noticed a lot of double parking, especially near the parks. I think a lot needs to change to improve peoples’ safety.
Before the lockdown most days I’d be running late and I’d be one of those people who would jump in the car and drive five minutes down the road.
But in March everything shut down and we were told to stay at home. I didn’t put petrol in my car for four months.
I started running again and I walked everywhere. I’m trying to keep up these good habits I started in lockdown.
These days I leave 10 minutes earlier and I walk to work instead of driving.
Green spaces bring benefits to local businesses
Businesses around here have benefited from the green spaces during the lockdown.
Woolton is a destination for many people within a five-mile radius.
We’re surrounded by parks and green land so that has brought a lot of people to the area who wouldn’t normally come.
In October's lockdown, a lot more people visited the area for walks.
We stayed open for coffee takeout and we had record sales than ever before. And many more people on foot or by bike visited our cafe than previously.
Changes are still needed though
If it was up to me, I’d make a lot of the village one way, so it’s not a cut-through.
I like to stop off and pop into things but when there are a lot of cars, that’s more difficult to do.
I think the area should go more tourist led because it’s so rich in history.
Cycle lanes would be amazing, but we would need to get rid of parking, and that could lead to a lot of resistance. But more footfall in the area helps most business.
The key cutter and cobbler next door to me is an advocate for getting rid of parking spaces as people are more likely to walk or cycle to get keys cut.
Setting an example for active travel
I’d like to set an example as a business owner. I’ve introduced compost bins and recycling.
I also want to work together with the community to create a secure space to lock up their bikes.
Some of the people we employ don’t live too far away and they could walk or cycle to work.
If there was a big enough safe, people would cycle more.
My bike got stolen a few years ago and I never started again. The last thing I want is to encourage staff to cycle to work and get their bike stolen.
A positive future for walking and cycling
I’m positive and optimistic about the future for walking and cycling in the area.
I think there will be a newfound love for green spaces all over the UK based on the last 6 months.
People have realised how important they are for physical, mental health and how people and business benefit from using and keeping them.
About this blog
Dean Caffery of One Percent Forest was part of our recent Bike Life webinar with Liverpool City region and the Growth Platform ‘Building Back Better – Supporting Business through walking and Cycling’.
Chaired by Simon O’Brien, Liverpool City Region Walking and Cycling Commissioner, with Rosslyn Colderley, our Director of the North of England, Dr Jason Kirby of John Moores University, Ian Stenton of Liverpool University Hospital and Kevin Riley, Director of WSP.