Hardly a week passes without a new thread on Facebook or Twitter about the cycle lanes going through Stretford. The main complaint has been the lack of transparency and news about what’s going to happen to them. Will they be made permanent? Will they be taken out? Will the cones be there forever?
There’s been some changes to Trafford’s leadership since the election and Councillor Aidan Williams has been added to the cabinet to take on Climate Change and Transport Strategy.
Councillor Williams took the opportunity of addressing a petition to give a wider update on the A56 last week when Council met at the town hall. The actual petition sought to exploit unused rail space alongside the Stretford Metrolink all the way down to Sale to provide additional cycling capacity. The council leadership agreed to explore the potential of this proposal but highlighted the limited access as an issue that meant it could never offer an alternative to the A56 for short journeys on bikes.
The cycle lanes have been frustrating for drivers and cyclists alike. Now that Councillor Williams is in place, we’re beginning to get coherent messaging. First indication was a tweet that Aidan put out in mid July, a simple tweet that made its way to both the Manchester Evening News and the Messenger.
The update at last Wednesday’s council meeting built on the information given out in the tweet. The council is going to consult on permanent cycling infrastructure in Stretford linking it via the Talbot Road scheme and (Old) Chester Road that gives Stretford continuous segregated cycling to the Manchester border. The design and landscaping within the town centre itself will be wrapped up within the town centre masterplan there.
Personally, I very much welcome this. It’s beginning to join up cycling facilities. We need to see what they come up with at the Talbot Road junction because that’s still dangerous and if the test is a 12 year old being safe, we’re still a long way from that. But hey, this is so much better than what we’ve been used to.
I’m really pleased that we’re getting some transparency now and it sounds like Councillor Williams wants to listen to all interested parties. Clarity is vital. We now know that cycle lanes won’t be installed along Chester Road in Gorse Hill. That will disappoint many, but at least knowing it, means that we can focus getting more crossings of that road. A crossing at Gorse Hill Park gates is an absolute must.
And we still urgently need that pedestrian phase at the Park Road/Derbyshire Lane junction so people can walk to Stretford without having to sprint. If Councillor Williams’s Transport Strategy responsibilities extend to getting people across roads, we’ve got a chance to start seeing some real improvements.