A council has defended a proposal to extend a cycle lane by 270 metres in a project estimated to cost £1 million after a resident accused the local authority of misleading the public about how popular the infrastructure is.
Lancashire County Council is currently running a public consultation on the plan to extend the cycle lane on Clifton Drive North in St. Annes, using money from Active Travel England, works that would extend the "largely free of traffic" routes available to people on a coastline that is a "popular place for people to ride their bikes".
The Blackpool Gazette reports that the council has published usage numbers to back up its support for the scheme, noting that the number of cyclists on the route increased by an average of 212 per cent between corresponding days in August 2021 and August 2022 after the infrastructure was opened, with the highest one-day total being 1,084.
However, one resident, Damian Calderwood, has challenged the council over the numbers, claiming that the council has misrepresented its popularity by choosing figures from the weekend of 13-14 August 2022 when the Blackpool Air Show was making the coastline busier. By contrast, the pre-cycle lane dates in 2021 did not happen on the same day as the Air Show as it was cancelled due to Covid.
"They did the 2022 count on the busiest day of the year, at the busiest points, where the crowds gather to see the Red Arrows take off and land – and then compared it against a Covid year. How stupid do they think we are?" Mr Calderwood told the local press.
"The whole thing is a huge waste of money. The county council has done no counts to show how many of those people [from further north on the coast] are then cycling down to join route 62 and [for whom the extension] would make it easier. And most cyclists don't do that – they go straight on into St. Annes and beyond, so they're not even turning down here."
The extension would see the route extended at its southernmost point, from the junction with Highbury Road a further 270 metres to Todmorden Road, lengthening the infrastructure that opened with a cycle lane and footpath 18 months ago, the council saying it would join the route up with National Cycle Route 62.
Mr Calderwood even went as far as to conduct a cycle count himself at Todmorden Road, which would also be made one-way as part of the proposal, and says he counted an average of six cyclists per hour.
However, the council takes the view that the infrastructure will boost cycling by making it "safer for people to negotiate a number of busy junctions".
A spokesperson said: "The Fylde coast is a popular place for people to ride their bikes thanks to the existing routes being largely free of traffic and our proposals to extend the route on Clifton Drive North further towards St. Annes aims to make it safer for people to negotiate a number of busy junctions.
"We're grateful to people for responding to the consultation. If we receive any objections, all responses will be reflected in a report to our cabinet for a decision after the consultation closes on Thursday 23 November."
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.