A councillor in Bolton has caused controversy for his reply to people pointing out that another cyclist has been hit by the driver of a vehicle on a busy route where cycle lane wands were removed.
Greater Manchester Police have said they arrested a man on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs after a cyclist was injured in a collision on Chorley New Road on Friday, the A-road route out of Bolton where two cyclists were killed last year, those fatalities coming since cycle lane wands were controversially removed in 2021.
With the latest collision pointed out to Conservative councillor Andy Morgan, he penned a lengthy reply describing it as an "accident" that "is regrettable but no orca wand would have prevented that happening".
Cllr Morgan also went on the offensive, claiming the critic "clearly doesn't know the difference between a protected cycle lane and a cycle lane that is separated by some random orca wands that wouldn't protect anyone from bad cycling or driving".
Following that semantic argument, he went on to say: "We carried out a legitimate consultation with the people that use the road and also live on the road and they overwhelming rejected the orca wands and they were subsequently removed, that's called democracy. The cycle lanes are still in place albeit not protected by a few orca wands. Any accident is regrettable but no orca wand would have prevented that happening."
Unsurprisingly the councillor's remarks were not the end of the discussion, the original commenter thanking him "for your input" but they would rather "stick with published guidance for my definition of what a protected cycle lane is".
Questions have also been raised about the consultation report, in which it was stated that 68 per cent of respondents were dissatisfied with the cycle lanes, but that "some of the dissatisfaction can also be attributed to the scheme having not gone far enough", not just outright opposition.
The same report also suggested that "in line with Department for Transport guidance", the scheme should be monitored for six months to a year, rather than immediately removed.
Thanks for your input councillor but I’ll stick with published guidance for my definition of what a protected cycle lane is. Interesting that you’re still misrepresenting a consultation report that recommended monitoring the scheme, not ripping it out..https://t.co/1bZNJpfe4R
— Will York (@will_in_mcr) September 30, 2023
Another reply to Morgan asked, "Why don't you provide protected lanes then, if that would have prevented the deaths?" while another accused the local politician of a "patronising tone and neither a word of concern for the cyclist who has been hit, nor any attempt to reassure that the cycle lane is safe or fit for purpose".
Two cyclists were killed on the road in hit-and-run collisions during a six-month period in 2022, those incidents coming in the 12 months after the council confirmed the wands would not be returning and that the £275,000 active travel scheme would be scrapped.
That decision came despite the minutes from a Bolton Council meeting showing that councillors were told the newly non-protected bike lane would not meet the national minimum safety standards.
At the time of the second hit-and-run death, Morgan defended his authority's decision by saying "we can't plan for a hit and run unless we take cyclists off the road completely, which no-one wants to do".
"As politicians, we're constantly being criticised for not doing what people want, but now we're being criticised for doing what the public wanted," he said. "The cycle lane stayed in the same place. It is exactly the size as it was before.
"It's a dangerous road. There are discussions to be had about the speed limit on Chorley New Road but people don't want to reduce that from 40mph either."
We first reported on the lane in January 2021 when the council said it had "no intention to enforce" parking restrictions after images were shared of bumper to bumper vehicles parked in the cycling infrastructure.
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.