As of 18 April 2017, work has commenced on phase 1 of Trafford Council’s Stretford public realm scheme. The scheme will see the closure of three of the four subways and will add an additional right turn lane onto Edge Lane for motor traffic. Further details in this post from July 2016.
Given the upcoming mayoral election in Greater Manchester and Sean Anstee’s current position as leader of Trafford Council, I think it’s worth looking at what he’s committed to in regards to cycling.
In his manifesto, Sean Anstee has said:
I will make our city region cycling-friendly by working with local councils to create safer junctions and smarter bus stops. I will also establish a bike rental scheme so that everyone has access to this mode of transport.
So, given his commitment to “working with local councils to create safer junctions”, will the changes being made by Sean Anstee’s own council make this junction safer?
Well, let’s look at some of the issues:
- Pedestrians are being forced to mix with traffic by using surface crossings. It’s clear this will lead to more traffic incidents and fatalities involving pedestrians than the subways.
- Cycle provision at this junction won’t be any better than it is now. There’s no protected cycleways, just paint on the road at most. So people on bikes will continue to have to mix with motor traffic or be forced onto the pavement.
- Although it’s not officially allowed, many people on bikes (those who fancy staying alive) have used the subways to get across this junction, particularly for right turns. With the removal of the subways, this will no longer be an option.
- The speed limit along the A56 has recently been reduced from 40mph to 30mph. While this is definitely welcome, no other measures or enforcement has been carried out to ensure the speed limit is adhered to. So it is roundly being ignored by many motorists, bringing a whole new set of problems.
So are the changes anything to do with making the junction safer or is it just about increasing traffic flow, benefiting those driving through Stretford from the south of the borough?
The subways have largely been neglected for many years now, were overgrown, badly maintained and not universally liked. But things could have been so different.
The recent clearances of the subway entrances as part of the public realm work give a glimpse of what could have been. The subways could have easily been opened up to give better social safety and turned into a real feature. But this was never an option.
So, on the 26 April 2017, the three subways will close permanently. Making this junction much more difficult and dangerous to cross for anyone not in a motor vehicle.
All the points above have been raised to Sean Anstee’s council on many occasions and have been completely ignored. Given that, I find it hard to take Sean Anstee’s commitments on cycling seriously.
RIP Stretford subways, and good luck to all who use the surface crossings