As I attended a consultation on planned developments in Carrington, held by developer HIMOR, I missed the first twenty minutes of October’s cycle forum. I therefore wasn’t present to hear that an offending post on the Urmston to Ashton cycleway will be removed, and that the traffic light sensor at West Point Junction is to be made more sensitive (and made to automatically trigger the button by those who approach it). Timings may also be modified there, to the benefit of people cycling. But I eventually arrived to find a large meeting room almost filled to capacity with a mixture of individuals, including council officers, local councillors and representatives from Amey.
Detailed minutes of everything discussed will be forthcoming, but a topic that raised more than a few eyebrows is the removal of painted cycle lanes from a short section of the A560 road, alongside Altrincham Golf Course, between Altrincham and Timperley. The road there is much narrower than the carriageways it connects and is particularly problematic for walking and cycling. The situation isn’t helped by some motorists leaving their cars parked across both the cycle lane and the footway. The video below, filmed by cycle forum regular Bob Sweet, illustrates this well:
There’s presently no room for a two-metre-wide cycle lane in each direction, and so a compromise position had previously been sought; a single, two-metre-wide cycle lane heading east, with the relatively quiet westbound footway being reserved for a possible future upgrade. Unfortunately the council’s position is that the current, sub-standard cycle lanes will be replaced by painted bicycle icons in each lane, to serve as a reminder to motorists that they may encounter people on bicycles. The council are keen to stress that this isn’t the end of the story and that they’d much rather build infrastructure that meets best practice. To this end, they suggested that they will revisit the area at a later date, to install a more comprehensive scheme.
Co-incidentally for me (as I’ve been sticking my beak into the Carrington developments at every opportunity) was the revelation that Trafford and Salford councils have been discussing with Network Rail a significant change of status to the abandoned railway between Irlam and Broadheath. This roughly four-mile-long undeveloped route has the potential to remove a great many car journeys from the road, not least by its enabling of short trips between Partington and Irlam, across Cadishead Viaduct. The residents of Warburton would no doubt welcome Salford and Trafford residents no longer being forced to make a six-mile car journey via Warburton Toll Bridge, having chosen instead to walk or cycle less than one mile across the viaduct. And as Partington’s closest supermarket is currently Asda in Broadheath—a four mile trip across narrow, unlit lanes—opening the railway would enable a much simper and virtually traffic-free two-mile journey to Tesco, in Irlam. And just in case they prefer Asda’s fruit and veg, the railway comes within half a mile of that store too, so they could still shop there. Or with the money they’ve saved on petrol, they could visit Waitrose!
The construction of a cycle route along this railway raises another very important possibility; that of a traffic-free link between the developments on the former Shell site at Carrington, and Partington—one of the most deprived areas in Greater Manchester. The town is relatively isolated, served by only one major road and connected to Broadheath by a small number of wholly inadequate country lanes. Congestion on all these roads can be severe, and the closure of any can result in long diversions for motorists. A direct, completely flat cycleway with a spur straight into the old Shell site, along with new links built through the new development to Urmston, would be of enormous benefit to the residents of Partington, and if designed correctly may actually reduce the overall number of trips taken by car. After all, there are to be no schools built in the new Carrington development; does anyone seriously believe that parents will allow their children to walk or cycle along Manchester Road? A traffic-free route is essential.
But one of the most intriguing possibilities announced by Amey is a Hovenring-style elevated roundabout at the White City interchange, on the border of Trafford and Salford. The Hovenring is a circular walking and cycling bridge, suspended by cables above a large road junction in the Netherlands. It enables people walking and riding bicycles to cross this junction in complete comfort, while also lowering their journey times.
A similar solution at the much larger and more complicated White City junction would render any concerns about personal safety meaningless. As well as facilitating a cycle link between Trafford’s Stretford Cycleway and Salford’s upcoming Trafford Road scheme, it would enhance the potential for new protected cycleways into Gorse Hill, Trafford Park, Media City, Pomona Island, Castlefield and Manchester City Centre. It would make the Metrolink station at Pomona much more accessible, and a link may also be possible into the Old Trafford stadium car park, making walking and cycling for football supporters and staff a more viable proposition. A cycling junction like this would not only be a tourist attraction in its own right, but a symbol of Trafford and Salford’s ambition, through the Mayor’s Challenge Fund, to transform the way we travel. And with Trafford’s planners also looking at significant active travel improvements to Seymour Grove, in a few years people may be able to cycle all the way from Media City in Salford, to Chorlton—free from concerns over sharing the road with motor traffic.
A fascinating presentation was also made by Kathryn Heaton from the National Trust, regarding the charity’s plans for the Dunham Massey estate. Anticipating future growth in visitor numbers, the trust is planning to enhance and upgrade the estate. They intend to restore historic lost features (such as forgotten ponds), improve access to the significant amount of land they own, create new routes for walking and cycling, and to improve links to the nearby Tatton Park estate. Of particular interest was the possibility of closing Oldfield Lane to traffic and improving footpath connections across Dunham Forest Golf Club, directly to the centre of Altrincham. I must point out that the potential also exists to enable more walking and cycling through Carrington Moss, by improving access at the junction of Whitehouse Lane with Sinderland Lane and Dark Lane (entrance to the latter is currently obstructed by a gate). The simple removal of overgrowth along Dark Lane would let people avoid Sinderland Lane altogether, reaching Birch Road in relative peace and quiet. In a change to how the trust has historically engaged the public, it is asking them for advice and suggestions, and readers are therefore encouraged to contact Kathryn, whose contact details may be found at the bottom of this post.