'Barely-used' cycle lane now set for £1M extension

EXCLUSIVE ‘Barely-used’ cycle lane is set for £1M extension… forcing locals to drive half-a-mile extra to get home and ‘sending 1,000 cars a DAY’ down a narrow street

  • EXCLUSIVE:  There are £1million plans to extend a Lytham St Annes cycle path
  • Residents of the seaside town near Blackpool say it causes more problems 
  • Are YOU being driven mad by a cycle lane? Email [email protected] 

Plans for a £1million cycle path extension will force homeowners to drive half-a-mile to get to their homes and send up to 1,000 cars a day down a tiny residential street.

Residents living along Clifton Drive North in Lytham St Annes, near Blackpool, have slammed the council’s plans to extend a cycle path by 270 metres.

They said the development is an ‘unnecessary waste of money’ and is a ‘ridiculous solution to a non-existent problem’.

The extension to National Cycle Route 62 – which follows the west coast of Lancashire – would mean drivers won’t be able to turn from the main arterial Clifton Drive – which links St Annes with Blackpool – into Todmorden Road, the major link road onto the popular promenade.

According to a resident’s survey, almost 2,000 cars use Todmorden Road to go to and from the promenade each day but under the proposed plans, this road will be turned into a one-way street and half of those cars will have to squeeze down a smaller residential road instead.

Locals say this is going to ‘create problems rather than solve them’ and are worried their roads will become ‘busy and dangerous’.

Due to the one-way system, those living on Summerfields Estate down Todmorden Road will be forced to drive half-a-mile around just to get to their driveways – which are just 18 metres away from the road.

Pictured: Mr Calderwood walking along the proposed route on Clifton Road North

A graphic showing the plans for the cycle path extension in St Annes

The council said that by extending the cycle lane to Todmorden Road it will allow riders to join up with National Cycle Route 62, which then continues down North Promenade

Those living on the Summerfields Estate say they will have to drive an extra half mile to enter their driveways under the proposed plans which make their road a one-way street

Pictured: Bentinck Road. All the traffic from Blackpool tourists will be diverted down this small residential road to access the promenade under the suggested plans

The existing cycle path was installed in 2021 – jointly funded by cycling charity Sustrans and the county council – costing over £1million.

Lancashire County Council says the three-metre-wide cycle track has boosted the number of cyclists along the route, increasing by an average of 212 per cent between August 2021 and August 2022 – with the highest one-day count at 1,084.

But Damian Calderwood, who lives on the Summerfields Estate, claimed these counts were artificially inflated by taking place on the busy Blackpool Air Show weekend.

The 55-year-old added that the survey failed to compare like-with-like – because the August 2021 event was cancelled as a result of the pandemic.

So the resident did his own count of bikes using the one-and-a-quarter-mile cycleway, and said ‘at the peak of the peak time, I counted six cyclists in one hour’.

Under the plans, the main access route to the promenade will be turned into a one-way street.

This means – according to a survey carried out by Mr Calderwood – 1,000 cars will have to travel down Bentinck Road which is just six metres wide instead of Todmorden Road, which is eight-and-a-half metres wide. 

Mr Calderwood said it is ‘silly’ and other locals are concerned this will ‘massive parking problems’ and problems with traffic which is often ‘jammed solid’.

John Spirling with his dog Ragnar, who live on Bentinck Road where traffic will be diverted

Mr Calderwood and Frank Whittaker outside the Summerfield Estate on Todmordon Road

Pictured: A sketch of the plans sent to locals by Lancashire County Council

Mr Calderwood told MailOnline: ‘The road between Blackpool and St Annes is quite long and busy. Two or three years ago they decided to narrow the road and put in a cycle path.

‘Now they want to join it up and make it easier for cyclists. They sent through the usage data for the cycle path and said there had been an increase in bikes.

READ MORE – New ‘deathtrap’ pavement that pits cyclists against pedestrians sparks fury after warnings it should never have been built in the first place 

‘But they did the survey on the busiest weekend of the year – when the Blackpool Air Show was on – and compared it to the same time as the year before, when it was cancelled because of covid.

‘The locations where they chose to conduct these counts just happen to be at the bottom of the Airport’s runway where everyone congregates to see the Red Arrows take off and land.

‘It’s so disingenuous of them. So I did my own count. At the peak of the peak time, I counted six cyclists in one hour. If I did the survey now, I’d be lucky to get six in one day. It is used, but only occasionally.

‘They want to narrow the road even more and put an extension on the cycle path which will go across people’s driveways.

‘They’re also going to give cyclists priority over drivers turning into the beach’s car park – it’s dangerous. Drivers aren’t going to stop for them.

‘Todmorden Road is the main access point to the Promenade – which is what St Annes is all about.

‘I live near there and it’s been turned into a one-way street. If I want to go into my house I have to drive half-a-mile around. All of us who live here have this problem.

‘All we can do now is make noise’. 

Mr Calderwood said: ‘The road between Blackpool and St Annes is quite long and busy’

Pictured: Summerfield estate with Todmordon road to the left and Clifton Road North to the right, where the new bikeway is expected to end

In a letter objecting to the plans, Mr Calderwood wrote: ‘It would seem that the continuing war against motorists is now being extended to homeowners, residents and indeed tourists and all to benefit the smallest minority of cyclists.

Todmorden Road is what I think planning people call a ‘pseudo-Node’ as it flows on to the promenade without the need for any turns or queuing. 

‘It is therefore the primary access route to the promenade for locals and more importantly tourists coming from the direction of Blackpool.

‘If such a traffic scheme was to be introduced traffic will be forced to access the prom from the next available turning which is Bentinck – this is a small residential turning measuring just 6.5 metre-wide compared to Todmorden’s 8.5-metre width.

‘Traffic will build up queuing all the way back to Clifton Drive as vehicles wait to turn on to the promenade.’

Retired engineer-surveyor Frank Whittaker, 76, also lives on Todmorden Road.

Mr Whittaker said: ‘It’s going to make life unnecessarily ridiculous, just to get 20 yards from Clifton Drive to our homes.

‘We’re going to have to drive all the way round and there are also going to be massive parking problems.

‘It is just a ridiculous solution to a non-existent problem. It is a lot of money, for nothing.

‘There is no real traffic problems here at the moment. That will change.’

When MailOnline visited the road on a bright and sunny afternoon, a small handful of cyclists were observed peddling on Clifton Drive North – roughly one cyclist for every hundred motor vehicles.

And, of the few cyclists seen, none of them obeyed the current signs, telling them to dismount to use the pavement linking route 62 to the cycle lanes on the road.

The existing cycle path was installed in 2021 – jointly funded by cycling charity Sustrans and the county council – costing over £1million

John Spirling has lived at the junction of Bentinck Road and North Promenade for 38 years and has objected to the council’s cycle route plans.

The 78-year-old, who enjoys taking his Cruft’s winning Giant Schnauzer Ragnar for his daily walks, fears the road will become very busy and dangerous for pedestrians and other road users.

He also pointed out that extending route 62 will create a traffic snarl up at the junction with Highbury Road.

The dog owner said: ‘At the moment, every morning and evening – during rush hour – traffic coming into St Annes or going out of St Annes is jammed solid either side of the Highbury Road junction.

‘Throw into that holiday traffic and the problem becomes even greater. And the pinch point is the current Highbury Road junction.

READ MORE – I’m a cyclist… and these are the 14 road users that scare me the least and the most on my London commute 

‘If they do what they are proposing with the cycle route, the road is going to be narrowed so the traffic turning right into Highbury Road will not be able to queue alongside the traffic going forward towards Blackpool. It will reduce the road to a single line of queuing traffic – that will be a problem created.

‘Particularly in summer time it is going to jam up traffic all the way back to St Annes.’

He said the plans to place two pelican crossings near Highbury Road will further slow the traffic.

‘As for the Todmorden Road situation, that road was designed with a long slow bend onto the promenade so traffic doesn’t have to stop when it is coming from Clifton Drive onto the promenade,’ he said.

‘If traffic comes up Bentinck Road, which it will have to do, it is going to meet a T-junction.

‘I am not happy and I have raised my concerns with the council.’

Responding to the issued raised by Mr Calderwood, a spokesperson for Lancashire County Council 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.’

The proposed Clifton Drive North scheme is one of several being funded across Lancashire – mainly in the east – from a £5.5million grant that the county council received earlier this year from the government agency Active Travel England. 

County Hall received a 29 percent greater share of the nationwide pot as a result of the strength of its bid, cabinet members were told.

MailOnline has contacted Lancashire County Council for comment.

Source: Read Full Article