A CONTROVERSIAL cycle lane along one of Bolton’s key routes will not be implemented in full and could lead to a legal challenge to the council.
The scheme to put ‘cycling and walking at the heart of transport policy’ saw the cycle lane on Chorley New Road repainted, widened and ‘orca wands’ installed to protect cyclists.
The scheme, costing £275,000 from emergency government Covid funding, started in September 2020 with the removal of a previous sub-standard advisory cycle lane and maintenance and patching work.
Orca wands were then installed along sections of Chorley New Road.
Councillors were inundated with complaints about the wands causing congestion, particularly as vehicles had more difficulty undertaking than before if a another vehicle was stopped and waiting to turn right. There were also other concerns about safety.
Members requested changes to the scheme and it was halted completely last March with the ‘wands’ removed.
A further request to complete a consultation exercise before full implementation was also approved.
This week, transport and highways cabinet member Cllr Stuart Haslam was warned ditching the idea could lead to the Department for Transport clawing back their investment although up to £100,000 could be recouped by reusing the wands elsewhere in the borough.
Despite that he has made the decision to permanently remove much of scheme and noted potential issues around legal challenge and clawback from the government.
In the consultation 68 per cent of those surveyed expressed dissatisfaction with the concept.
In a report John Kelly, the borough’s assistant highways director, stated: “The main themes from the consultation are focused on safety, maintenance, pedestrian movement and congestion.
“The main safety issues identified was associated with parking in the cycle lane and the requirement for cyclist to move out into the vehicle lane or onto the footpath to pass.
“The maintenance of the cycle lane was also a concern, both in terms of its usability and its visual appearance from rubbish and debris accumulation.
“Generally, the scheme has been poorly received with 68 per cent dissatisfied with the scheme as implemented.
“This is a consequence of both a focused targeting of residents within the consultation area and a dissatisfaction with how the scheme has been left incomplete and compromised through its implementation.”
Mr Kelly said the survey also provided an indication that cyclists are using the corridor more as well as an increased perception of safety for cyclists.
He said the permanent removal of the wand orcas would mean the scheme would no longer comply with the minimum standards of the Greater Manchester Interim Walking and Cycling Design Guide and it would also fall short on complying with Active Travel Fund criteria on national standards.
The report said that the decision made not to fully implement the scheme could leave Bolton Council open to a legal challenge similar to where schemes elsewhere in England have not been implemented as promoted.