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“Are there so many cyclists to warrant such disruption?” Locals blame new cycle lane for “horrendous” congestion and motorists driving on wrong side of the road – despite “being all in for vulnerable road users and a green planet”

“This is going to cause more congestion and more toxic fumes in the atmosphere, all for one or two cyclists,” one local lorry driver said – but the council have responded by pointing out that once the bike lane is completed, traffic “won’t be as bad”

A council’s attempt to introduce new protected cycle lanes as part of a “masterplan” to transform the town’s streets and improve active travel has been met with a familiar response from frustrated motorists on social media and in the local press, where drivers have claimed that the ongoing construction works have led to confusion, “horrendous” congestion, and journey times of 45 minutes for a two-mile stretch of road – “all for one or two cyclists”.

Roadworks are currently underway in Farnworth, Greater Manchester, to install a new protected cycle lane, improve footways and pedestrian crossings, and upgrade existing traffic signals on the Gladstone Road junction with Bolton Road.

The works, which are set to continue until May, form part of phase two of Bolton Council’s plans to transform Farnworth town centre, which the local authority says will create a “balanced street” for those walking, cycling, and using public transport, and which will “improve accessibility to and within the town centre, enhance people’s experience, and support local businesses”.

However, the narrowing of the road as part of the cycle lane construction has, rather inevitably, angered some local drivers, who say the scheme has increased congestion and led to confused motorists driving on the wrong side of the road.

“What the hell are the council doing to our roads?” one local resident asked on the Farnworth Matters Facebook group. 

“It’s taken me 45 minutes to come from Little Lever into Farnworth [a distance of 2.5 miles] and the delay? Cycle lanes! Reduced two car lanes to one.

“Seriously, are there so many cyclists to warrant such disruption? I’m all for a greener planet but how much has this junction cost? I witnessed four cars driving all the way up on the wrong side of the road to turn off down a one-way system, one car went down a no-entry too. Surely this money would have been better spent fixing potholes?”

> Bike lane where two cyclists have been killed in recent months does not comply with minimum safety standards, council warned last year

“Whichever person at Bolton Council has approved the highway scheme in Farnworth deserves the sack,” added Gareth on X, formerly Twitter. “The traffic is queuing back into St Peters Way, emergency services are stuck, and all because you have reduced two lanes into one for a 10m cycle lane.

“25 minutes from Little Lever to Norfolk drive this morning – I’ve walked it in 35 minutes.”

Meanwhile, Ginny said: “10m long? What exactly do councils think happens to cyclists outside of cycle lanes? So much congestion happens, not because of cycle lanes themselves but when they appear and disappear, as they cause bottlenecks.”

Another local, lorry driver Sean Trundle, who despite noting that he does “know about vulnerable road users”, also told the Bolton News that the construction works have led to motorists “blocking” the roads.

“I just came through it at 2.30pm and there’s so much traffic where people block the roads,” he said.

“The council has put a cycle lane in on Bolton Road before Market Street, and it is all well and good as I do know about vulnerable road users, but now it is only one way. And if you are turning right towards the motorway, you are going to be blocking the road for people trying to get towards Farnworth.

“It’s a massive cycle lane and if they had thought about it a bit more, they could have put it in Market Street instead as it is quite wide there.”

> “Proper cyclists don’t need cycle lanes”: Locals blast “woke” bike lane works, as rugby club claims fans can’t get to matches during “chaos”

He continued: “It’s absolutely horrendous, and I spoke to Cllr Hamid Khurram as well and even rang highways, but they are not speaking to anybody, it’s just an embarrassment.

“This is going to cause more congestion and more toxic fumes in the atmosphere all for one or two cyclists. I have only seen one cyclist this afternoon.

“It might be better when finished, but I do not think it will be as it is one lane and people cannot avoid the area unless they go back.”

Responding to the criticism from local motorists, Bolton Council’s cabinet member for highways, Hamid Khurram, said: “A few people have raised concerns about the cycle lane going through Farnworth, as it has narrowed the road, and some are not happy about it.

“The new layout of the junction has the same number of lanes as the existing one except on the arm coming north out of Farnworth where the two lanes are reduced to one to fit the pedestrian and cycling facilities.

“It has almost been completed now. Once the cycle lane is installed it will not be as bad. I have asked the highways team to address the concerns people have raised and assess the site to see if any improvements are needed.

“The highways team has informed me that the work started at the end of January, and they are due to finish at the start of May, which is earlier than expected.”

Ryan joined 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 Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’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.

Add new comment


Benthic | 1 month ago

“horrendous” congestion, and journey times of 45 minutes for a two-mile stretch of road – “all for one or two cyclists”

No. The reason you're not seeing cyclists is because they've got to work quickly and are already grafting.

Benthic | 1 month ago

Local lorry driver Sean Trundle said, “This is going to cause more congestion and more toxic fumes in the atmosphere.”

Been an environmental campaigner for long, Sean?

chrisonabike | 1 month ago

Eyes down!

Did I miss any?

HLaB replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago

To cry Bingo?

Geordiepeddeler replied to chrisonabike | 1 month ago

Cycling infrastructure does not force drivers to break the law, drivers are the reason they break the law, no one else.

bensynnock replied to Geordiepeddeler | 1 month ago

Quite. I was wondering where the cycling infrastructure is located that causes drivers to go 90 on the M3?

marmotte27 | 1 month ago

"I’m all for a greener planet but..." reality I'm not.

mitsky | 1 month ago

Of course, these same people don't look at empty pavements and bus lanes and say "why do we need them when they are empty?"...

ktache replied to mitsky | 1 month ago

They do say this about bus lanes.
Never considering that maybe they should try the bus.

brooksby | 1 month ago

If the cycle lanes are finished then it might encourage more than "one or two cyclists" to use them (which might take more than one or two cars off the road, which might make the roads more useful for those motorists still using them).

Why is it that cycle lanes must always be justified, based on how many cyclists are using them now, what the projected levels of usage will be, etc, etc whereas we Just Build More Roads?

Oh, wait: cos bikes, innit?

ktache replied to brooksby | 1 month ago

Look at London and the way that better infrastructure has encouraged cycle use. On some stretches the bicycle is the most numerous vehicle type.
Build it and they may come...

NeilBedwin replied to brooksby | 1 month ago

As it's often said -'the way to justify the building of a bridge is not too count the number of people swimming the crocodile infested river!'

Accessibility f... | 1 month ago

More local idiots not quite realising that it's the doubling of motor traffic in the last thirty years that is the root of their problems, not a solitary junction improvement.  Plus there are the rivers Tonge, Croal and most importantly, the Irwell, to cross in that area - and there are hardly any crossings.  Basically because they're all in huge deep valleys that to bridge would cost an absolute fortune.

So who are they going to blame in ten years time when there are even more vehicles on the road, and the queues are even longer?  They're like the people who love it when traffic lights fail, who claim that the junction "flows much better", forgetting that pedestrians then have to run for their lives to cross the road.

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