Council removes cycle lane just 48 hours after it was installed amid ongoing debate
A cycle lane in Trafford was removed 48 hours after being installed as they continue to divide opinion across the borough. While some are in favour of the lanes along the A56, which could form a permanent part of the borough’s move towards a “cleaner, greener borough” in the future if approved, others are furious at the current traffic gridlock forming along the borough’s main roads. More traffic is getting back onto the road as lockdown begins to ease but, with at least one lane of two closed along much of the A56 to make room for cyclists and pedestrians, commuters are complaining of long tail backs.
One of the new extensions to the seven-mile cycle lane along the A56 travels south into Timperley. It was installed over the weekend and pictured at 9pm last night (Monday June 22). But by 9am this morning, it was gone.
It has now emerged that the council pulled the new extension back to Sale Town Centre, removing the Timperley link. The move was to ease congestion and will be reviewed in the next 24 hours, council leader Coun Andrew Western confirmed.
The lane closures have caused long tail backs in some cases, but cyclists said they feel safe again (Image: Trafford Conservatives)
At the start of lockdown, one commuter praised the seven-mile-long lane along the A56 and said for the first time in almost 40 years of cycling into Manchester via that road, he felt safe. But in the last month alone, three people are known to have died cycling on Trafford’s roads.
A 28-year-old man who collided with a truck in Trafford Park died seven days later on Friday June 19. On May 25, a 42-year-old man also lost his life after his bike collided with a red Ford at the junction of Dunham Road, Paddock Lane and Warburton Lane.
An 80 year-old also died after he was riding his push bike on Charcoal Road in Bowdon when he collided with a Fiat 500 at the junction with the A56 Dunham Road on May 28. Coun Michael Welton, Green councillor for Altrincham, said on Twitter: “Four local people have been killed riding their bike on Trafford’s roads in the last month.
Halfords in Altrincham have sold six months of bikes in six weeks. There will be lots of new riders and they need to be protected.” Earlier this week, though, plans to close part of Barrington Road in Altrincham to cars were indefinitely put on hold by the authority after a number of local residents spoke out against the move, worrying it would in fact cause more traffic elsewhere in the area.
Nationally, the Conservative Government has called on local authorities to reassess its transport management network during lockdown.
While they may be temporary for now, councillors have hinted they could be made permanent (Image: Neil Meehan)
This led to much of Deansgate being pedestrianised in Manchester City Centre, as well as the introduction of one of the longest cycle lanes in Greater Manchester along the A56 in Trafford. But the implementation of this national policy is proving tricky at a local level and Trafford’s Conservative group is calling on the Labour-led council to reconsider its lane closures along the A56. Coun Nathan Evans, leader of Trafford Conservatives, said: “As with the recent change of heart on the crazy idea to close Barrington Road in Altrincham to vehicles, it would be a positive step for Andrew Western to acknowledge that his scheme is an error, that he got this one wrong, and get our borough flowing freely as lockdown is lifted.
“We certainly need safe cycle routes but at a time when we need maximum opportunity for access to work and limited use of public transport, simply halving the main route into Manchester, without proper consideration or any consultation with local residents, is the wrong decision.” Coun Andrew Western, council leader and leader of the Labour group, said: “The Government was clear that councils should look to re-designate road space for walking and cycling, and in particular on trunk roads and arterial routes. “The council followed this advice and the scheme progressed with only minimal disruption to traffic flows in the initial stages.
However as the lane reduction was extended through Sale southbound over the weekend the level of congestion quickly became unmanageable.
The seven-mile lane has been installed to make socially distant transport easier (Image: Neil Meehan)
“This morning the scheme has been pulled back to Sale Town Centre in order to reduce congestion with a further review to take place in the next 24 hours.” A spokesperson for Trafford Council said: “Trafford Council has been carrying out a review of its temporary cycle lanes which were installed to allow for more cycling and walking during the lockdown. “As the lockdown eases, and in light of recent traffic challenges, the council has decided to adjust the temporary A56 cycle lane in Sale by moving it back to Sibson Road.
We will be reviewing alternative options.”