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

The £1 million project is subject to a public consultation, one resident undertaking his own cyclist count and claiming the council has artificially inflated the numbers

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.

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

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.

Clifton Drive North cycle lane (Lancashire County Council)

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.

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8 comments

Avatar
imajez | 3 months ago
3 likes

In shock news - very few cyclists use roads with no safe provision for cylicng.
The conclusion -  there's no need to build bike paths. 

This is like arguing against building a bridge across a river because hardly anyone swims across it. 

Avatar
chrisonabike replied to imajez | 3 months ago
0 likes

Definitely!  However, we're then challenged with "but nobody cycles there".  That's where it gets more complicated:

Driving is the dominant mode (other than walking) and utterly normal.  So where it is convenient to drive (almost everywhere, any time, all weathers) people will.  Driving has social meaning - showing status, plus you can get in the car with other people and drive side-by side and chat.  You can carry another person, be they very young, old, having disabilites etc.

The road infrastructure is designed for driving motor vehicles.  Yes - you can cycle on the roads but even if made empty of motor vehicles they're not ideal for cycling / walking.  They're far too wide, have camber, the wrong kind of kerbs and metalwork (access hatches, grids) and lots of unnecessary stuff like traffic lights in them).

For change to occur it's not enough for infra to exist.  As the cartoon suggests it must be and feel safe (in several ways).  It must go where people want to go and connect to a network of routes so you can get to it!  There needs to be safe parking at each end.  For that journey it must generally be more convenient and attractive that driving!

Avatar
Muddy Ford | 3 months ago
5 likes

What is Mr Calderwood objecting to? That money earmarked and provided by central Government is being used to build active travel infrastructure, i.e. the only purpose for which those funds can be used and that he thinks a cycle lane somewhere else would have greater benefit (presumably backed up by his cyclist counts)?  Because if it's for any other reason, he can f'k off and count unicorns. 

Avatar
mattw replied to Muddy Ford | 3 months ago
3 likes

I can't tell.

Perhaps he either parks on the street and wants to keep the space for himself, or wants to sell the end of his garden for some dubloons.

Either way, he hasn't noticed that the fundingis ringfenced and comes across as a bit of a dumpling.

Avatar
wtjs | 3 months ago
2 likes

Good news for people already living in the vicinity- if you have to use the A585 to cycle there from the A6, there's a good chance you won't make it

https://upride.cc/incident/pe69ooc_clio_closepassspeed/

Avatar
gareth@attrill.uk | 3 months ago
1 like

Looking at Street View, the existing "cycle lane" further south is used *extensively( as parking by cars parking entirely in the lane and mounting the pavement, even right on top of double-yellow lines!

https://www.google.com/maps/@53.7526481,-3.0355611,3a,75y,136.67h,87.11t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sTh-7FszQqQfk7-mUi1AmLA!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?entry=ttu

 

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mattw replied to gareth@attrill.uk | 3 months ago
1 like

Reflecting on that, if one side is made No Parking (ie double yellows) does that mean that half of the parkers having to cross the road will mean they are more likely to appreciate the pedestriane experience slightly better?

It's like SPAN housing in the 1950s and 1960s deliberately making their walking paths a little narrower so that residents can't quite walk past each other like ships in the night.

I like the idea.

Avatar
mattw | 3 months ago
1 like

OK as a "cycle track", but very not-joined-up to eg Road Junctions.

https://www.google.com/maps/@53.7631939,-3.0457823,3a,75y,301.9h,85.46t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sAUH0t370Stukt9CMYXu4GQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192?entry=ttu

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