Greater Manchester received something like £20 million to make cycling easier and safer a couple of years ago. On a visit today, Dynamo noticed some changes in Oxford Road:
but also some hazards outside the Town Hall:
Since Dynamo is currently on foot rather than a bike, it’s impossible to say what cycling around Manchester nowadays is really like. If anyone has any experience, please let us know. Presumably £20 million does make a difference . . . ?
Dynamo member Matt Hodges is also a Right to Ride Representative for Cycling UK. He has given a great deal of thought to the news that there is funding to improve safety on the A588 road (which passes through Cockerham) and has written to Lancashire County Council with his views. You can read them here. Thank you to Matt for doing this.
Dynamo has been campaigning for safety improvements on the A6 for several years. We stepped this up in December 2014 when we wrote to Lancashire County Council about the awful accident statistics and demanded action. We then worked up a list of improvements, together with the Council’s Road Safety Manager, in April 2015. The significant improvements needed relate to the junctions where accidents have occurred, as well as minor lining and signing updates. In all this time, the Council has managed only the lining and signing and has even back tracked on promises to complete the work.
Dynamo has decided that it is essential to show a huge public support for County to implement these A6 safety measures in full and urgently. We have therefore launched an official e-petition on the County’s website which will run for 2 months. Please do go online and support this campaign, it can be found at bit.ly/A6-safety
Please don’t be put off by the need to register on the e-petition site: it only takes one minute to do.
Please also share as widely as you can with cycling groups, cyclists, parents who want to keep their children safe, and anybody else who cares about the safety of vulnerable road users.
The long-threatened housing development around Bailrigg and Whinney Carr in south Lancaster has been given a boost by government funding for “garden villages”. (See this week’s Lancaster Guardian article and the City Council’s publicity document.) The brief is for “high levels of connectivity through public transport and cycling” (page 1).
If this development is going ahead, then – putting aside (with difficulty) one’s personal views on building on green fields and cynicism over sustainability – it’s important that the infrastructure is planned for and in place before houses start going up. Paul has therefore wasted no time in writing to Andrew Dobson at the City Council to press for our favoured route along the railway line, as follows:
I have been reading with interest the EoI for the significant intended Bailrigg Garden Village development. Dynamo Cycle Campaign will of course take interest in responding to consultations and will look to offer up any advice that it can regarding encouraging sustainable travel by bike.
I thought it worthwhile just putting one of our proposals in your mind, as it concerns an area within the scope of the plan. That is the proposal that we made in response to the Health Innovation Campus consultation and the Filter House planning application of a North-South off road alternative to the A6 for cyclists.
Dynamo proposes a completely new cycle route running parallel to the railway line from opposite the new science park/southern tip of the Old Filter House site, due north to join up with Lawson’s Bridge, Cinder Lane and then Ashford Road. This has the advantage of being off-road, direct and flatter than the Burrow Beck off road route. (See https://lancasterdynamo.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/ashton-road-alternative-cycle-route.pdf.) This means that there needs to be co-ordination of the planning in relation to the Filter House, the Bailrigg Business Park. the Booths application and indeed the Bailrigg Garden Village – so that this route can be built. The Booths application already allows for part of the route to Lawson’s Bridge.
I am sure that you appreciate that, at present, cycle provision is very piecemeal and the A6 south of Lancaster is particularly dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. Whilst Dynamo is in favour of continuous cycle lanes on the A6 to help to remedy this, we are also keen for imaginative and well-designed direct routes as an alternative.
A little bit of desktop research uncovers previous “noises” that Lancashire County Council has made in favour of a park and [cycle] ride facility at junction 34 of the M6:
- The final draft of the HGV Movement Strategy at section 4.2.1 states: “The draft Lancaster District Highways and Transport Masterplan proposes [. . . ] a series of complementary measures including Park and Ride/cycle parking provision at M6 Junction 34 . . .”
- The Statement of Reasons for Compulsory Acquisition for the M6 link road presented by Lancashire County Council to the Planning in December 2011 includes at section 5.18 the following: “As the site is approximately 3 km from the centre of Lancaster city and close to an attractive cycle route along the River Lune, cycling will be a realistic alternative to the private car. During peak periods, it may be quicker to cycle into Lancaster city centre rather than driving by car. Some car drivers may therefore wish to use the site to park and then cycle to the city. Cycle storage will be provided to support cycling from the site.” Section 5.19 also says: ‘Cycle crossing facilities will be included in the traffic signal controlled junction on Caton Road at the end of the link road from the M6 northbound exit slip road to provide access to the Lune Valley Ramble Cycleway/Footway “Millennium Cycleway”.’
Following on from the recent opening of the park and ride facility at junction 34, this week’s Lancaster Guardian carries an article about Dynamo’s call for park and cycle facilities – namely cycle lockers. However, any cycle storage facilities, according to a County Council spokesperson, depend on future development funding.
Dynamo’s view? . . . Well, they’ve just built an enormous road. As Paul eloquently puts it, “What further development should be needed on top [of this]” to justify proper facilities? It’s not as if we didn’t point it out to the County at an earlier stage.
A week after Dick’s letter in the Lancaster Guardian, there is an article on the subject of gritting (or, more accurately, not gritting) shared-use paths in extremely cold weather.
Dynamo also asked members for their experiences. Some had stopped cycling altogether; others had “braved” it. Regular cyclists on the Millennium bridge know how bad that can get, particularly around Sainsburys, and it never seems to be gritted. One reported riding on a “lethal mixture of frozen leaf mulch and ice”, but fortunately remaining upright.
(Which led to a bit of a digression about the dangers of a build-up of fallen leaves on shared-use paths and pavements. One member had skidded and come off on exactly that type of surface, and it’s noticeable that the Lancaster-Caton path is very bad in parts – and still not cleared.)
Obviously there will always be a risk of coming off on icy surfaces, but Dynamo’s view is that busy cycle-commuter routes should be treated as effectively as possible so that a cyclist on a bike with suitable tyres stands a good chance of getting to her/his destination in one piece. And if you prefer to get off and walk the dodgy bits . . . well, you’ll realise that pedestrians need the gritting as much as cyclists.
Communications with the City and County Councils have yielded the following information:
- The County Council does not class the Lancaster-Morecambe path as a priority network, so it does not grit it. The City Council does grit the busiest sections of that path and the University path if County informs them to expect prolonged periods of sub-zero temperatures. This appears to be for the benefit of pedestrians.
- Grit/salt is effective on surfaces where the traffic grinds the treatment and spreads it – e.g. roads (car tyres) and pavements (footfall). Bicycle wheels do not seem to be regarded as effective. (One reason not to cycle in the gutter on treated roads.)
So, what happens in other places? It seems that in the Netherlands the cyclepath is first brushed and then spread with a mixture of salt and water, which doesn’t require the same dispersal as just salt to work. Would this require specialist equipment, or would Lancaster’s regular sweeping machines be able to do the job? Certainly, major cycle routes in the Netherlands remain safe and usable.
Dick remains on the case.