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Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham defends plans for a new segregated cycle path, saying drivers currently dominate the roads

“The world where drivers dominate and cars have got all the road – we just can’t be in that world anymore because life is changing”

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has defended plans for a new segregated cycle path on the A56 — already victim to multiple bouts of attacks by vandals stealing the cones, now described as a "systematic theft" — saying that we can't live in a world where "drivers dominate" and cars "have got all the road".

Appearing on the BBC Radio Manchester show In the Hotseat, host Mike Sweeney read out a question to the mayor from a resident: "Andy's invested a lot of time into the Bee Network, which relies on the buses being on time and reliable.

"So, what does he think of Trafford Council’s plans to install permanent cycle lanes across the A56 from Sale to Stretford which will cause congestion at all times, and major congestion at peak times, and when cricket or football is on?"

> Recovery plan for Greater Manchester’s Bee Network hire scheme gets more bikes on the streets

The mayor responded, saying: "The first thing to say is that the Bee Network won’t be in Trafford until early 2025, this is just preparatory at this stage, we’ve already got the Bee Network in the west of Greater Manchester at the moment but it is heading towards Trafford.

"What I would say is, we’ve got to get to a position where we create space for all road users. People raise concerns about people on e-bikes or on e-scooters potentially posing a risk to pedestrians, so we’ve got to create segregated space for them.

"We’ve got to create more bus lanes to make the Bee Network work better. So, the world where drivers dominate and cars have got all the road – we just can’t be in that world anymore because life is changing. We need to encourage more people on to public transport.

"The Bee Network will work because of some of those bus priority measures that we’re going to put in place."

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bee network 1

Host Mike Sweeney then commented that the A56 is of a "finite width" and asked the mayor if he would be able to fit a cycle lane and bus lane on the A56, while retaining room for drivers.

The mayor added: "It depends where, doesn’t it? I’d have to look at the precise design that the Trafford Council are considering because the A56 can get very wide, actually, in certain parts of it.

"If you get towards the Stretford side of it, you’re talking four lanes aren’t you, at least on one side of the carriageway. It depends on how it’s done and where it’s done, but should it be done? Yes. We’ve got to create safe space for all road users."

Police data from 2019 showed the A56 was the most dangerous route for cyclists, with 67 incidents on the road between 2015 and 2017.

Plans to improve the layout of temporary cycle infrastructure on the section of the route, termed "Phase 2", in Stretford were consulted on earlier this year.

> Cyclists call out latest bike lane vandalism as city named 'worst in Europe for green transport'

Temporary cycle lanes were installed on Chester Road and Edge Lane in the early stages of the pandemic in 2020 using traffic cones, sparking anger from some road users, with the cones getting stolen, leading to a police investigation.

The anger outburst came to heads this year when Mancunian cyclists called out the bike lane vandalism, as photos shared on social media showed the A56 in Trafford reopened to three lanes again, the lane that was a dedicated cycle lane, formerly separated from traffic with cones, once again filled with queueing vehicles, and the removed cones stacked at the side of the road.

"Is this how we do democracy in Trafford?" one local cyclist asked. "Why is this being allowed to happen? We have been complaining for weeks about cones being removed and now large sections are missing. Maybe I should go back to driving."

Another said they had now raised an official complaint against Trafford Council as the "complete silence" on the matter is "very frustrating".

Speaking to WalkRideAlty, a campaign group hoping "to make Altrincham, Timperley and Broadheath better places to walk and ride" road.cc was told the council is "painfully slow" at dealing with such instances.

A56 cycle lane (@jbizzleymcbizzl/Twitter)

A spokesperson for the campaign said: "It seems as if the outsourced service provider Amey ('One Trafford') are struggling to keep up with vigilantes who are removing and stealing the temporary road cones from the A56 through Stretford. There are a series of tweeted photos of sections going missing overnight, and complaints that they're not being replaced.

> Cyclists call for proper segregation as brazen vandals steal bike lane cones again

Trafford Council responded to a road.cc request for comment, a spokesperson for the One Trafford Partnership saying: "We understand the importance of safe travel provision, which is why our traffic team regularly check the lanes to replace any missing cones. However continual theft and vandalism of cones means we’re unable to replace them as quickly as they are removed.

"We are proposing to replace the cones on this section of the highway with an interim cycling scheme and have invested heavily in active travel schemes across the borough of Trafford."

However, a week later, vandals hit the A56 cycle lane again, this time stealing cones segregating the bike route from the whole stretch of the infrastructure, with One Trafford confirming a "systematic theft".

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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15 comments

Avatar
check12 | 7 months ago
1 like

they probably should have done the bus lanes first, as the busses are just stuck in the traffic with all the cars with nowhere to go, bit daft really. And uk a local who drives, cycles, busses trams and walks depending on what I'm doing with who. 

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chrisonabike replied to check12 | 7 months ago
0 likes

Yes.  But it seems very difficult to prioritise buses - it's another "can't get there from here" vicious circle since because public transport is unreliable (in part by getting stuck in traffic) "the buses don't work for me" and so there isn't support for it*.

Notjustbikes again as a good video on buses in traffic and how chosing to prioritise car drivers in busy urban areas ends up being self-defeating.

*Obviously there are other issues with buses like they don't go places, or they run infrequently, and most people with cars prefer their own personal space in their car.

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check12 replied to chrisonabike | 7 months ago
1 like

The amount of people on the tram to/from Manchester to alty says a decent service due. Chester road and back bus lane all the way would be very well utilised. Wild much rather be sat on a bus reading / scrolling / whatever, than sat in a car for 30-40 mins each way

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bigwheeler88 | 7 months ago
5 likes

Good plan, but it doesn't go far enough. Cars don't just dominate the road, they want to dominate the entire city. They are utter menaces that have no place in a modern city.

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Sriracha replied to bigwheeler88 | 7 months ago
8 likes
bigwheeler88 wrote:

Cars don't just dominate the road, ...

Indeed, they dominate the pavement too.

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Accessibility f... | 7 months ago
7 likes

The situation on the A56 is a bit complicated because the coned lanes were introduced under the EATF scheme during the pandemic.  Normally, to get Mayors Challenge Funding for a proper cycle scheme (like on Trafford Road in Salford, or the Chorlton Cycleway), the council would have to make a full business case.  That takes time and money.  And the longer it takes, the more vandalism the A56 coned lanes suffer.  Because of Conservative government austerity, the council can't afford to keep buying new cones to maintain the lanes.  So instead of a full blown rejig of the A56 (like Trafford Road), it looks like we're getting an interim scheme, which will be a lane in each direction devoted to cycling, protected by wand orcas.

That's a huge improvement on what exists now, but unfortunately it stops at the motorway junction - it needs to go further south, to Sale, a town which has no safe way to get to Stretford (ignore the canal, it's not viable as a route).

Trafford are doing some good schemes, but they really need to recognise that they declared a climate emergency.  They need to stop worrying about what motorists think, and start thinking about what their children will think in 20 years when there's even more cars on the road, when the climate is going badly wrong, and when their future is looking increasingly bleak.  Nobody then will care about what some van driver from Firswood thinks.

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Car Delenda Est replied to Accessibility for all | 7 months ago
0 likes
Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:

start thinking about what their children will think in 20 years

There's nothing incentivising that right now, maybe constituents should get the right to veto MP's pensons?

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Accessibility f... replied to Car Delenda Est | 7 months ago
2 likes

MPs don't scrutinise or decide on local authority decisions like this.  It's officers and highways engineers who do.

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Car Delenda Est replied to Accessibility for all | 7 months ago
0 likes

Oops yeah, mind slipped there. Swap MPs with councillors and my point still stands.

And while engineers need to relearn to prioritise traffic over motor traffic ultimately the councillors need to be pushed to approve the plans.

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Rendel Harris | 7 months ago
9 likes
Quote:

"...will cause congestion at all times, and major congestion at peak times, and when cricket or football is on?"

If it's like my neck of the woods in London, where we have (and I regularly attend) The Oval cricket ground, building new cycle lanes will see a massive increase in the number of people travelling to the ground by bike, especially hire bikes.

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Accessibility f... replied to Rendel Harris | 7 months ago
4 likes

The issue with traffic like that in Old Trafford is that all the car parks are located right next to the venues, particularly at Man Utd.  Those car parks need to be moved outside the M60, to somewhere like Carrington, and bus services used.

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hawkinspeter replied to Accessibility for all | 7 months ago
0 likes
Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:

The issue with traffic like that in Old Trafford is that all the car parks are located right next to the venues, particularly at Man Utd.  Those car parks need to be moved outside the M60, to somewhere like Carrington, and bus services used.

Venues should have parking right next to them though as "away" supporters will often be arriving by coach and there will need to be facilities for disabled people too. Maybe the parking just needs to be made really expensive for ordinary cars to get them to park elsewhere or travel by public transport instead.

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Manchestercyclist replied to hawkinspeter | 7 months ago
0 likes

The most effective method would be to levy a charge on parking spaces per annum on locations you want to make better use of, for example city centres. I live within a mile of this location and traffic is grdilock when utd are at home.  yet there are lots of buses/trams to that location, I rent my drive out every time for £5 or more, yet the local roads are free to park on (and the pavement too it seems).

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FionaJJ replied to hawkinspeter | 7 months ago
0 likes

There may be a case for some limited disabled visitor parking near the stadium, but it's a total waste of space for coaches to be parked up there during the match. There could be an area for drop-off and pick-ups next to the stadium for (some) official coaches, but there's likely to be a better use of space next to the stadium than a big coach park.

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hawkinspeter replied to FionaJJ | 7 months ago
0 likes
FionaJJ wrote:

There may be a case for some limited disabled visitor parking near the stadium, but it's a total waste of space for coaches to be parked up there during the match. There could be an area for drop-off and pick-ups next to the stadium for (some) official coaches, but there's likely to be a better use of space next to the stadium than a big coach park.

Yeah, a separate coach park would make sense, but would it cause issues with loading up the coach after a match? I could imagine it taking longer to get everyone back onto the coach after they've been guzzling beer etc.

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