BP garage on A6 near Boot and Shoe
Patricia met Steve Cartmell from Lancashire County Council this morning to look initially at the BP garage on the A6. Despite the extra road markings (put in at the beginning of 2017), there have been 4 accidents involving cyclists along this stretch of road in the last two years. This is the second time that we have looked specifically at this stretch of road. To be frank, it is difficult to know what to do at the garage; the design of the kerb permits cars turn left into the garage very quickly, so it may be possible to build out the kerb to slow cars down.
Then a ride down the A6 (what an unforgiving road that is, with potholes, car doors, bus stops, lorries) to the Millennium Path to look at what could be put in place as a temporary route for cyclists and walkers when/if the Lune flood works are constructed.
It is possible – unofficially – to cycle on pavements all the way from the north side of Skerton Bridge to the Holiday Inn, but they offer poor sight lines at junctions and are narrow at the northern end. Meeting an oncoming cyclist or someone at a bus stop would be tricky. From a County Council point of view, it would be impossible to offer this as an official temporary route. It was interesting to view this from a Safety Engineer’s perspective: shared-use paths must be 3 metres wide; the refuge opposite Langdale Place is too narrow and tight for cyclists; the button-operated crossings outside Diamond Resorts and the Holiday Inn are only puffins, not toucans, so – despite cyclists using them all the time – officially they are not for bicycles . . . and, all the time, the traffic thundering along Caton Road was a reminder of the horrors of cycling on the road itself.
Langdale Place junction
Langdale Road junction
Refuge on Caton Road opposite Langdale Place
Other snippets were that there is funding for work on the Pointer roundabout (any chance of cycle lanes on South Road at the same time?), and the County Council and police are well aware of the red-light jumping by motorists at the Boot & Shoe.
An interesting and salutary morning’s ride.
Concerned by how few people were aware of the planning application’s proposed closure for over a year of the Millennium Path beside the River Lune, Dynamo has put up a few signs to inform path-users and to let them know how to comment. We’re keeping a regular eye on them to ensure they don’t end up as litter.
Lancashire County Council approved the strategy yesterday, subject to call-in by Scrutiny (whatever that means). So – after all this time – this is the Cycling and Walking Strategy, and this is the report to Cabinet.
It’s an underwhelming document, but it does put the County in a position to bid for central government funding for projects it identifies. It will also – we hope – get the Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure meetings started.
Dynamo will, of course, endeavour to hold the County to the standards set out in the document.
Two “Proposed work area and cycling route diversion sheets” have recently appeared on Lancaster City Council’s website*, but these appear to be indistinguishable from those that Dynamo first looked at two weeks ago. They show a red dotted line beside Caton Road at the Bay Gateway/Holiday Inn section of the Millennium Path, which appears to refer to the existing not-very-wide cycle lanes on Caton Road. However, they do include “cycling” in the labelling, so that’s progress.
* Instructions to go to the planning website:
- Go to https://planning.lancaster.gov.uk/online-applications/
- In the “Search” box type the reference number – 18/00751 for the River Lune works
- This brings up the application. Now click on the “Related documents” tab.
- Click on “View associated documents”.
- This brings up all the documents associated with the application – plans, drawings, transport assessments, comments by Natural England, Dynamo’s objection, individual comments, etc., etc.
If you wish to comment, you click on the “Comments” tab rather than “Related documents”, and then complete the form to make your own comment.
Dynamo has objected to the plans (below). We are not objecting to the flood defence works themselves – just to the current lack of alternative provision for cyclists and walkers during the construction period.
Dynamo (Lancaster & District Cycle Campaign) wishes to object to this application on the grounds that no safe, protected alternative for cyclists and walkers is provided in the current plans. At present, the plans simply state that path-users will be diverted onto [the very busy and hazardous] Caton Road for upwards of a year. We are also concerned that there are no specifications available for the finished path.
It is inconceivable that no alternative to the Millennium Path is included in the planning application. This is a very popular route for both utility and leisure cyclists and is a strategic route for cycle-commuters. Sustrans cycle-counter data from 2010 (the latest we can find) showed a daily average of 211 cycle journeys, but with the expansion of Halton in recent years this figure must surely have increased . Dynamo’s recent series of articles on cycle-commuters in the Lancaster Guardian gave some idea of how crucial this route is. All this goes against the City and County Councils’ commitments to sustainable transport.
Most of those who use the path are not people who would want to cycle on Caton Road – families with young children, parents with trailer bikes, novice cyclists – nor walk along it. Not providing a temporary alternative route is tantamount to increasing road danger.
We understand that the City Council is seeing if a diversionary route can be provided. Dynamo is willing to remove its objection if the plans include a safe, protected route during the construction phase and if there are further details about the eventual replacement path.
Dynamo went to the drop-in event on Wednesday to look at the plans and speak to those involved in its planning and design. There were people there from Lancaster City Council, Lancashire County Council, the Environment Agency and contractors VBA.
The thing that stood out was how unfinished the scheme is. Dynamo had the impression that this is being hurried along because of hopes that a third of the estimated cost of £9 million will come from the European Union before Brexit in March 2019.
This means that at present there are no firm plans in place for a comprehensive alternative route for cyclists and walkers while the path is closed between January 2019 and March 2020 – the proposed start and finish dates of the construction. Nor is it entirely clear what the finished design will look. We may end up with something far less attractive and convenient.
There is some willingness amongst the authorities to look at what can to be done so that cyclists and walkers can still get through, but this is outweighed by their appearance of pushing through this scheme as cheaply and quickly as possible. We’re not clear if anyone realises the importance of the Millennium Path. Sustrans data from 2010 (the best we can find at the moment) shows a daily average of 211 cycle journeys, with weekday counts showing “commuter peaks”. Cycling home, I looked at the families with children, parents with trailers, commuters, pedestrians, dog-walkers . . . apart from some racing cyclists, none of them looked as if they would regard going along busy, busy and potentially dangerous Caton Road as an alternative. What will happen is that people will stop cycling. The recent series of commuter accounts in the Lancaster Guardian made clear how popular this path is.
Dynamo will comment to this effect on the planning application. We have raised this with Sustrans North West (the path is also part of the Way of the Roses), and we would encourage everyone affected to get involved and ask for:
- a decent, safe alternative route during the construction phase
- and a good-quality, attractive path on completion.
What you can do:
Write to Lancaster City Council to give your views, quoting reference 18/00751/FUL,
Below: FAQ picked up at Wednesday’s event:
Lancaster City Council are holding a drop-in event about the River Lune flood plans on Wednesday 1 August from 3.30 – 8.00 p.m. at 3-1-5 gym, Mannin Way, Caton Road, Lancaster LA1 3PE. More details in their press release.
There will be initial ideas to view, people to talk to, feedback to give, so do go along if you want to find out more.