Progress on the Stretford Cycleway – March 2019

Another quick update on the Stretford Cycleway in March 2019, following previous updates:

It’s now March 2019 and time for another update on the Stretford Cycleway. This is now turning into quite a long running series and we’ve not even reached the end of all the planned work.

The Westpoint junction is now pretty much complete, way later than planned in the original schedule. I heard this was due to the presence of buried tram lines causing a delay, but it must have been more than just that. It seems surprising they wouldn’t have expected tram lines there anyway, given it used to be the main tram route between Manchester and Stretford.

Approaching from Talbot Road on the inbound side, after passing the Seymour Grove junction, you reach the start of the cycleway. It’s definitely not a pretty sight and looks a bit of a dog’s dinner with an old painted cycle arrow pointed towards traffic island.

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The start of the new cycleway section, looking a bit of mess

The cycleway passes between two traffic islands before it crosses Chester Road. The island on the left was the existing one that’s been remodelled, while the one on the right is a new addition. There’s some new asphalt at this point between old sections of asphalt. It rides better than it looks though.

In between the two traffic islands, there’s a stop line. So traffic coming from Chester Rd has priority over bikes coming from Talbot Rd and riders are responsible for ensuring the route is clear. Not great.

While most of the time you’ll be on a green phase coming from Talbot Road, if you go through just before the lights change and you’re not that quick at getting across, you’ll have to watch out and wait for traffic coming from Chester Road.

As you pass over Chester Road, there’s strips of elephant’s feet down either side. It would have been better if green paint had been used here too, making it much clearer the route of the cycleway.

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Approaching the start of the kerb protected section

Once across Chester Road, you enter the protected section, with kerb protection initially on either side. This then changes to Wand Orcas as you carry on. Originally it was due to be kerb protection all way, though it was changed to reduce costs. This seems perfectly reasonable to me.

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Kerb protection followed by Wand Orcas

Soon after, the kerb protection returns as you get closer to the Stretford Road junction. At this point, the kerb is much wider than it needs to be. It would have been better if the space was used to make the cycleway wider.

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Unnecessarily wide kerb before the start of the right turn lane

As you approach Stretford Road, the cycleway widens with a right turn lane. At the right turn, there’s a new set of cycle traffic lights, which are triggered by a button.

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The right turn lane for Stretford Road

I’ve heard there’s supposed to be an induction loop too, but this didn’t seem to be enabled. There’s no automatic phase for the cycle crossing, so you need to press the button if you want cross. The position of the button is set back a little and is slightly awkward to reach.

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Button for triggering the cycle crossing phase

Once you get a green signal, crossing onto Stretford Road is nice and easy. It is significantly easier and more pleasant than it used to be, and should enable less experienced riders to cross without fear.

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Looking across the new crossing to Stretford Road, used to be a pinch point

The negative is the necessity of pressing the button and waiting for a green signal to cross. This is an inconvenience that will put some off from using the cycleway, who will end up continuing to cycle on the road. Having more responsive signals triggered by an inductive loop would significantly improve things.

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The new kerb protected section

The top of Stretford Road is now fully protected with kerb protection and new asphalt. Before, this was a tight pinch point with a poor surface. It was quite unpleasant getting close passes from motor vehicles here, when they used to cut the corner.

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Back to the bad old surface, should have been improved

The new surface and kerb protection soon gives way and you return to the old surface and Wand Orcas. As I’ve mentioned previously, the old surface is a bit of mess here. It’s a shame that more of the cycleway wasn’t resurfaced while the work was carried out.

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Outbound section at the end of Stretford Road, the surface should have been continuous

There hasn’t been as much change on the outbound side of the junction. The section at the top of Stretford Road has been rebuilt, but the layout hasn’t changed significantly. There isn’t currently any demarcation between the cycleway and the footway. It really needs some green paint and bike symbols through here, I’m not sure if they are to be added or not.

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New green paint and kerb protection at Carver Street junction

There’s some new kerb protection and green paint at the Carver Street junction. Priority for cycling has also been improved, so it’s now clearer that traffic approaching from Carver Street needs to give way to cycles.

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Looking back at the top of Stretford Road

It’s not as clear as it could have been though. The cycleway from Stretford Road should have continued here without changes to the surface. Give way marking are due to be added here also, which will cause some confusion.

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The end of the protection, this should continue to Seymour Grove

Beyond Carver Street, there’s no new protection, so the cycleway continues up to Seymour Gove unprotected. In my opinion, Wand Orcas should have been included as part of this scheme.

It’s fair to say many will assume the Westpoint junction improvements are part of Beelines work, but they were actually funded by leftover CCAG2 money. With that being the case, the improvements weren’t subject to the Beelines design standards, which shows.

Overall, the junction improvements definitely make things better for inbound journeys onto Stretford Road, particularly for less experienced riders. I do think the button triggered crossing signals will prove to be a barrier for many though. The signals need to be more responsive and triggered by an inductive loop.

For outbound journeys, there’s some minor improvements, but it’s not significantly better. Partly, that’s because the route from Stretford Road to Talbot Road wasn’t particularly problematic. There was opportunity to add some protection here, which has been missed. That is a shame.

The next significant piece of work to be carried out will be the Seymour Grove to White City Way section, which wasn’t part of the original scheme. This work is being funded by Beelines money, so it’ll be interesting to see how this compares with the existing improvements.

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