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“Waste of money” cycle lane branded an “annoyance and inconvenience” for adding 570 metres to motorists’ journeys, as council approves extension plans

Residents told the council that the £1 million ringfenced for the project would be better spent on town centre parking or repairing potholes – despite the funding being awarded by Active Travel England

A planned extension of a recently installed cycle lane which has proved controversial with locals – with one resident even conducting his own cyclist count along the infrastructure after accusing the local authority of producing “misleading” figures – has been approved by Lancashire County Council, despite complaints that the project will add 570 metres to journeys for those living near the busy coastal road.

Lancashire County Council has signed off on plans to extend the protected cycle lane on Clifton Drive North in St Annes, Fylde, using £1 million in funding from Active Travel England, which the local authority says will help expand the “largely free of traffic” routes available on a coastline that is a “popular place for people to ride their bikes”, along with increasing safety on a road where three cyclists have been seriously injured in collisions with motorists in recent years.

The proposals would see the route, which begins at Squires Gate, near Blackpool, extended by a further 270 metres at its southernmost point from the junction with Highbury Road to Todmorden Road, lengthening the infrastructure that opened with a cycle lane and footpath in 2022, and enabling it to join up with National Cycle Route 62.

> Seafront cycle scheme with "Mickey Mouse" layout that made council into a "laughing stock of the nation" to be reviewed

According to the council, this extension was always intended to take place – with limited funding behind the necessary decision to build the infrastructure in two phases – and will also coincide with the introduction of four pedestrian refuge islands along the road, as well as a one-way system along a short stretch of Todmorden Road and the creation of a no-entry restriction on Bentinck Road for all traffic except cyclists.

However, the plans have been fiercely criticised by some locals, with the public consultation carried out by the council receiving 32 objections, compared to just 10 in support of the proposals.

Clifton Drive North cycle lane (Google Maps)

Lancashire Live reports that at this week’s council meeting to discuss the expanded cycling infrastructure, nine residents argued that the funding would be better spent on “repairing local potholes” or providing town centre parking. However, these points were dismissed by the council’s highways committee, who noted that almost all of the funding for the project had been awarded by Active Travel England, and thus was ringfenced for cycling and walking projects.

The one-way system planned for Todmorden Road, which will prevent motorists from turning onto the road from Clifton Drive North, was also criticised by respondents to the consultation, who pointed out that the restriction will increase journey distances for residents.

Lancashire County Council says 36 households will be affected by the change, which will add approximately 570 metres to their journeys.

Cabinet member Peter Buckley, who represents the St Annes North, told the meeting that he appreciated “the annoyance and inconvenience” the changes will cause to residents, but added that he understands that the project is “all about safety and adhering to Department of Transport regulations”, while welcoming the introduction of better crossing facilities for pedestrians on one of the widest single-carriageway roads in Lancashire.

Meanwhile, the county council’s lead member for highways and active travel, Scott Smith, noted that “improving safety” was “integral and vital” to the schemes, after three cyclists were seriously injured in collisions on Clifton Drive North in recent years.

> Council insists cycle lane extension will make "popular route" safer, as resident accuses local authority of misleading usage figures

This latest backlash against the plans to extend the cycle lane on Clifton Drive North comes just months after a resident accused the council of misleading the public about the current infrastructure’s popularity.

In November, we reported that the local authority 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 amounting to 1,084.

However, one local, Damian Calderwood, challenged the council over the numbers, claiming that the council deliberately and misleadingly chose 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 at the time.

“The whole thing is a huge waste of money,” he continued. “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.”

Mr Calderwood even went as far as to conduct a cycle count himself at Todmorden Road, where the one-way system is set to be installed, and claimed he counted an average of six cyclists per hour.

However, the council responded to these complaints by pointing out that the infrastructure will boost cycling numbers by making it “safer for people to negotiate a number of busy junctions”.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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9 comments

Avatar
wtjs | 2 months ago
7 likes

I feel it's my duty to get over there and use it!

Avatar
eburtthebike | 2 months ago
8 likes

Second time in a week I've read about councillors not bowing down to the great car god and standing up against its accolytes: are we finally seeing a change in attitudes?

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chrisonabike | 2 months ago
1 like

Definitely looks like a win, this appears to be [ tiding up and properly connecting one end of ] a rather obvious missing link.

Otherwise travelling between here and Blackpool would seem to involve a significant detour and the B5621 (uninviting urban "country road" where they have "provided infra" with a line of paint on a modest footway...)

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to chrisonabike | 2 months ago
2 likes

The current situation appears to be you almost get to the southern end, then the path suddenly becomes "shared use" then basically dives off into the bushes ... because obviously you're done with cycling by that point?

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chrisonabike | 2 months ago
0 likes

What's annoying / telling of where we still are is the arguments councils are using to defend these (from the *checks article* 30 objections).

Do they justify motorway extensions and ring roads with "this is a popular place for people to drive their cars"*?

Plus "one of the widest single-carriageway roads in Lancashire" - now it might not be much, but on the other hand...

(Yes, nobody cycles in outside of Cambridge and central London and especially not for several miles in the countryside between places, I know...)

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HarrogateSpa | 2 months ago
0 likes

Sometimes I wonder if I might as well just go and read the Daily Mail instead of road.cc, the amount of anti-cycling clickbait you present us with here.

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brooksby | 2 months ago
5 likes

I don't see why an extra 570 metres is such a big deal.  I mean, I thought all motorists loved being in their cars, so this is just making them spend more time doing something they love.

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Patrick9-32 | 2 months ago
10 likes

ThE mONEy wOuLD be BEtTer sPenT on THiNgs FOr mEEeE!!

also cyclists are the most entitled people in britain. 

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B_Sauce | 2 months ago
8 likes

Well done to the councillors for not backing down. Hopefully some of those who objected will realise that just because there were more of them, it doesn't necessarily mean they were in the right.

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