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Cyclist killed by hit-and-run driver on road where cycle lane wands were controversially ripped out

The man in his 30s is the second cyclist to die in a collision on Chorley New Road since the segregation was removed last year

A cyclist has died after being struck by a hit-and-run driver on the Chorley New Road near Bolton, the second rider to be killed on the A-road since segregated cycle lane wands were controversially removed last year.

The collision happened on Monday 17 October at around 4.20pm and saw the cyclist taken to hospital to receive treatment, but Greater Manchester Police yesterday confirmed the man had passed away as a result of his injuries.

Following the fatal collision on the major A-road between Bolton and Horwich — close to the junction with Lostock Junction Lane — the driver of a van, a 35-year-old man, was arrested later that evening on suspicion of causing serious injury by careless driving.

The driver was released under investigation whilst enquiries continue and Greater Manchester Police confirmed to that there is no further update at this time.

Second fatality this year

The second cyclist fatality on the Chorley New Road this year comes just five months after the last — 52-year-old Lee Rayner was killed in a hit-and-run on May 5 and a driver was arrested on suspicion of death by dangerous driving. also asked Greater Manchester Police for an update on that investigation and was told only that "the driver in that case was also bailed pending further enquiries".

Since the confirmation of the second death, questions have been asked about why the cycle lane segregation — initially installed in early 2021 as part of the COVID-19 Emergency Active Travel Fund programme — was ripped out.

Many have directed anger and frustration at a Conservative councillor, Andy Morgan, who was an outspoken critic of the wand orcas, last year calling their removal "absolutely the right decision" and "common sense" prevailing.

Those social media posts from July 2021 on Facebook — when the wands were removed for an IRONMAN event, never to be reinstalled — and September 2021 on Twitter, when the council confirmed the scheme would be scrapped, have since been deleted.

To a barrage of people sharing screenshots of his criticism of the now-removed cycling infrastructure, Cllr Morgan, in another since-deleted tweet, said: "The cycle lanes were not removed, only the orca wands, the very wide cycle lane remains in place. It was a hit-and-run. I am as sad as everyone that an innocent cyclist was hit and died."

The wands, and orcas from which they stood, were removed last June ahead of an IRONMAN event which used the road, but never returned, Bolton Council saying it was a "practical and financial decision" to wait until a public consultation on the active travel scheme was complete to decide if they should be reinstated.

Come September 2021 it was decided the £275,000 scheme should not be continued, the consultation finding that 68 per cent of those surveyed expressed dissatisfaction with the wider segregated cycle lanes.

In a report John Kelly, the borough's assistant highways director, said: "The main themes from the consultation are focused on safety, maintenance, pedestrian movement and congestion.

"The main safety issues identified were associated with parking in the cycle lane and the requirement for cyclists to move out into the vehicle lane or onto the footpath to pass. The maintenance of the cycle lane was also a concern, both in terms of its usability and its visual appearance from rubbish and debris accumulation."

> Council has "no intention to enforce" parking restrictions in segregated cycle lane where cars are parked bumper to bumper

Mr Kelly also suggested there had been an increase in cyclists using the route and an increased perceived safety, but the scheme had "been poorly received".

"This is a consequence of both a focused targeting of residents within the consultation area and a dissatisfaction with how the scheme has been left incomplete and compromised through its implementation," his report continued.

He added that the permanent removal of the wands meant the scheme would not comply with the minimum standards of the Greater Manchester Interim Walking and Cycling Design Guide and would fall short of complying with Active Travel Fund criteria.

The report also stated Bolton Council could leave itself open to a legal challenge for not implementing the scheme paid for by emergency government Covid funding as it was promoted.

In March this year, two months before Mr Rayner's death, a sign mocking the council's decision appeared below another asking: 'Think active travel: Why not walk or cycle?'. 'Probably because we removed the cycle lane' the reply suggested.

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Dan is the news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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