Chorlton Walking and Cycling Routes proposals: Our Comments

Introduction   

The Manchester and Salford Ramblers strongly support the proposed new walking and cycling route from Manchester to Chorlton.

Ramblers want cities and towns that are designed to encourage people to go about their everyday lives on foot.  We want to make walking the easy choice, for any type of urban journey, whether just trying to get from A to B or for recreation and relaxation. Making it possible for more people to walk and cycle will reduce congestion, improve health, and is essential if we are to tackle the serious threat of air pollution in Greater Manchester.

We urged our members to get involved in the consultation and organed informal walks along the route to look in more detail at where the proposals will make a difference for walkers.

These comments are drawn from the experience of groups of our members who have walked and cycled the route.                                                                                                    

General Points

For a proposal of this ambition, it is anticipated that a detailed footpath condition audit would be conducted at an early stage in the planning to ensure that the quality of the walking infrastructure meets the required standard.

Looking at, side road treatment, footway build-out is highly desirable as are other suggested features such as visible road studs. Zebra crossings or raised continuous footways across side junctions should also be standard for the whole of this route.

Any planning application, development framework or expression of interest for any development or essential utility works that would impact on the footway or cycleway, must be made aware of the proposed route and of the clear expectation that any development would enhance the experience of the route and would take steps to avoid any loss of amenity during works, construction or development.

Area 1

Section A: Chorlton Road from the Chester Road Roundabout to Ribston Street

For walkers the section from Jacksons Crescent to the Deansgate Interchange is currently unattractive and whilst the routes across the roundabout are logical and quite well protected, there are more attractive ways of walking into the centre of Manchester. Nevertheless, when reviewing the route for these comments, it was observed that there are walkers who access the Deansgate Interchange on route to Deansgate Railway Station and the Deansgate Castlefield Metrolink Stop. Therefore, there could be a case for the provision of a footway on both sides of Chorlton Road, leading to the pedestrian route through the interchange.

The crossing of Jackson Crescent could be improved with a continuous level footway, this would also encourage compliance with the 20mph speed limit as it would make more of a statement than the current speed bump type arrangement.

The improvements to the Royce Road/Chorlton Road junction are to be welcomed and will improve the walking experience.

Section B: Stretford Road to Moss Lane West

The Chorlton Road Stretford Road junction is a significant junction and should be modelled at least to the standard of the Royce Road junction, maintaining separation between walkers and cyclists.

Farther south the area opposite Bold Street, between the car wash and Cornbrook Street there are a number of old brick built commercial premises with a variety of tenants.  Some areas have formal access routes into parking area within the premises, others have more informal parking in front of their premises with not well defined access routes across the footway. Also, on a number of occasions, it has been observed that there is considerable on-pavement parking making passing on foot difficult and very challenging for those with mobility assistance or parents with double buggies.

A review of the appropriate access arrangements and the implementation of physical and visual guides would be helpful here – more defined curbs at access points and the appropriate road markings.

There are similar, but not as severe issues closer to the main junction outside the timber merchants.

The proposed innovative design for the Brooks Bar Junction would greatly assist both walkers and cyclists to safely and effectively negotiate the busy crossings. The closure of Shrewsbury Street to vehicles greatly assists the movement of walkers and cyclists, as will the proposed build out of the footways and the parallel, presumably Puffin controlled, crossing points.

Area 2

Section A: Upper Chorlton Road to Johns Road

The review of the bus stop on the north bound carriage way is understandable, but it is not obvious where would be a better location. The footway south of Stamford Street is no wider and has a number of mature trees. However, if the footway was to be built out into the existing, but proposed to be discontinued, bus lane, that may create sufficient space.

On the opposite side of the road, the proposal to route the cycle way round the existing bus stop is even more problematic. The footway here is quite narrow, with limited room to pass the existing bus stop, especially at busy times. Even if the whole footway was extended into the existing carriage way it is difficult to see sufficient space could be created for the segregated cycleway, bus queue and footway. The option of moving this stop south opposite the, north bound bus lane may create space if the roadway itself was realigned.

The proposed Puffin utilising the existing uncontrolled crossing point outside Tesco’s is welcomed as are the proposals for pavement build out at Darnley Street and Kings Road.

The relatively new Supermarket just south of Moss Grange Avenue has a very wide forecourt with no defined access and exit points and this may be an issue for both walkers and pedestrians that wasn’t an issue with the previous occupant who probably had less frequent vehicle movements onto the forecourt.

The proposed pavement build-outs across the side junctions of Ashley, Knutsford, Ollerton and St Johns is welcomed as the current side junctions are too wide.

The proposed review of the bus stop just beyond Ollerton Ave is understandable, but it is not obvious where wound be a better location. The proposals for routing the cycle lane round the back of the bus stop opposite St Johns Road on the Chorlton bound carriage way has similar problems to that at the one at Brooks Bar. It may be better to consider all the bus stops on this stretch in one context and it may be that there could be a rationalisation of stops on this stretch. Indeed, if you looked at the stretch of Upper Chorlton Road, from Brooks Bar to the Army Reserve Centre, there are five sets of bus stops in little more than 1Km.

Section B: Upper Chorlton Road from St Johns Road to Woodside Road

At the beginning of this section, in the Beeline proposals a route is identified along St Johns Road, which links to a series of other routes in Old Trafford and Firswood. Upper Chorlton Road is correctly identified as a severance line and a new crossing is proposed at this point, at the very least if would be helpful to have a Puffin crossing here if not a Toucan.

The treatment of side road junctions on this section is welcomed. The proposals for the bus stops outside the Army Reserve Centre have similar problems to those already discussed, and this and the one opposite that it is proposed to be reviewed could be included in a wider review of bus stop provision all along this section.

The provision of traffic calming measures and reduced speed limit on the approach and around Milton Gove, Egerton Road North is welcomed. The provision of motorway style crash barriers as the road bends is evidence of historic problems with excessive speed when taking this section. It also narrows the footway and does not give any real reassurance to walkers, enforcement of the proposed 20mph limit would.

The proposals for the Seymour Grove junction are welcomed in that there will be improved crossing routes for walkers across all arms of the junction. On such a complex arrangement it is essential that walkers are properly from vehicle traffic and conflicts with cyclists are minimised.

At the Woodside Road junction there may be a case for footway build – out on the south side and also measures to manage the informal forecourt parking for the premises along the stretch towards Stratton Road.

Area 3

Section A: Manchester Road from Upper Chorlton Road to Metrolink Bridge

The proposals for the Seymour Grove junction are welcomed in that there will be improved crossing routes for walkers across all arms of the junction. On such a complex arrangement it is essential the walkers are properly protected from vehicle traffic and conflicts with cyclists are minimised.

At the Woodside Road junction there may be a case for footway build – out on the south side and also measures to manage the informal forecourt parking for the premises along the stretch towards Stratton Road.

The measures for the side road junctions at Stratton Road and McCauley Road are welcomed. However, Stratton Road is identified as a Beeline that opens access to quiet streets in Whalley Range and a crossing point of Manchester Road is proposed. This should be considered as part of the main route proposals.

The review of the bus stop just north of Queens Court does not seem necessary, the road is quite wide at this point and the proposed one-way section of Buckingham Road will remove any direct conflict with vehicles exiting Buckingham Road.

Looking at the proposals for the Buckingham Road/ Railway Terrace one-way system, given the open nature of the triangle behind the bus stop then for walkers it should work. It is noted that the exit from Railway Terrace is included in the area around the Metrolink Bridge for further consideration.

In our proposals for the Bridge, we don’t believe that it would be possible to impact on the south bound carriage way, therefore the proposed alignment needs to be considered.

There would be much more traffic seeking to turn right out of Railway Terrace than at present, and the sightlines to the right are restricted by the existing bus stop, which is dangerous for vehicle movements and would present more conflicts with pedestrians crossing Railway Terrace. It is proposed that the precise siting of the bus stop and the alignment of the curb side be reviewed to minimise these risks whilst also retaining the open aspect of the triangle for walkers.

Section B:  Manchester Road and Barlow Moor Road Metrolink Bridge to Wilbraham Road

It is noted that further options are being considered for the Manchester Road Metrolink Bridge. Our proposals are that, in order to ensure that there is a segregated cycleway and high-quality footway on both sides of the carriageway, a separated cycle path and footway is created to the north side of the existing bridge. The entrance could begin at the end of alley way by the side of the allotments and rise gently to the left of the existing mature tree – that is currently a significant obstruction of the footway. The way could re-join the main road way through the area currently occupied by an advertising hoarding. In order that this new bridge be well lit and safe at night, it would be necessary to significantly reduce the height of the brick and metal walls to this side of the existing bridge.

The existing footway on the north side of the bridge could be removed and that on the south side expanded to include a segregated cycle path and footway. It is not possible to add a walk way to the south side of the bridge due to the positioning of the various elements of the Thirlmere aqueduct and other services. 

The footway by the bus stop between Cheltenham and Kensington Road is already too narrow and a Copenhagen Style stop is probably the only feasible option, but if possible, it would be desirable to extend the footway so as to give more space behind the bus stop for pedestrians.

The footway on the north bound carriage way between Kensington and Ransfield Road is probably wide enough to allow a slight reduction to enable the cycle way to be routed behind the parking bays, and it makes sense to move the existing Toucan crossing. However even with the crossing removed there is still an issue of the large mature tree opposite 105 Manchester Road and the footway will need to be improved to allow access over the root system.

On the opposite side of the road along the frontage of the former Leisure Centre, there are a couple of points with large trees, but all of this frontage needs to be considered in the context of the development of the site and we expect that any proposals would be such that this section would provide a high-quality segregated cycle and footway.

The proposal to remove the existing shared use path is welcomed, it is confusing and ill defined on either side of the road and the new toucan crossing and a shorter purpose-built section of shared use path will improve matters.

The proposal to locate loading only areas off the main route are in general sensible, there is a concern that the proposed site on Oswald Lane  would need to be very carefully engineered as the lane there is quite narrow and it could be expected that vehicles would either reverse in or reverse out of the lane across cycle and pedestrian routes and there is already an issue of the narrowing of the footway at the corner in front of the Green Grocers with a large mature tree.

The new Puffin crossing to the south of Longford Road is welcomed.

The removal of the existing crossing to the north of Nicolas Road and the creation of a new Puffin Crossing to the south of Selbourne Road is welcomed as it would improve matters in general, however ideally it should be accompanied by significant remodelling of the crossing of Nicholas Road. However, the whole of the section on the north side from Nicholas Rad to the former RBS Bank will potentially be impacted by the proposed redevelopment of the whole Chorlton Precinct site, all of this frontage needs to be considered in the context of the development of the site and we expect that any proposals would be such that this section would provide a high-quality segregated cycle and footway.

In the interim, it would be helpful if there could be a temporary extension of the footway behind the proposed Copenhagen style bus stop. The existing arrangements make it very difficult to pass, even at quiet times, and when there is a large bus queue it is very difficult.

From a walkers point of view the proposed development of the “Four Banks” junction would represent a major improvement of the infrastructure and the whole experience of getting around and across this very central part of Chorlton. We assume that there is sufficient data available on vehicle traffic movements to be confident that any displacement effects on surrounding quiet roads will be minimal or additional measures will be taken to minimise any adverse impact.

Area 4

Section A: Barlow Moor Road to Chestnut Avenue

The creation of a segregated cycleway along both sides of Wilbraham Road towards Napier Road would make this a more pleasant and open section for walkers without the continuous lines of parked cars. At the very start of this section, on the east side, where the proposed cycle way would come behind the bus stop, the map in the consultation document is unclear but the alignment should be such as to leave a good footway width as this is busy route. The repositioning of the bus stop on the opposite side of the road and the removal of the associated build-out are welcomed.

The proposal to locate loading only areas off the main route are in general sensible, there is a concern that at the locations on cul de sacs -Silverwood, Maple and Oak Avenges that vehicles would either reverse in or reverse out into the main road and across the cycle and walk ways. Care should be taken when setting the curbs and the uncontrolled pedestrian crossings so as to maximise sight lines and encourage driver caution.

A number of the properties south of Cranbourne Road have driveway access across the cycle and footways and it is important that curb height and road markings encourage drivers to appreciate this.

Section B:  Barlow Moor Road from Sandy Lane to Hardy Lane.

The proposed arrangements for the High Lane/Sandy Lane junction are welcomed and the Toucan Crossing will be very useful in busy times. The installation of a full curb segregated cycle lane on the inside of the proposed new footway would go some way to manage the conflicts with the informal parking outside premises from 489 – 499 Barlow Moor Road. On the same side of the road south to the existing Puffin Crossing there are also conflicts with premises parking being accessed across the line of the footway.

The removal of the bus stops on the carriage way by the bus station should improve matters, both for pedestrians and road users and there should be enough currently unused space in the existing bus station to accommodate additional buses.

On the opposite side of the road from the Sandy Lane Junction to St Anne’s Road, the footway is already constricted, when we walked this section there were advertising A-boards outside some of the premises and in a couple of instances there was encroachment with patio furniture and empty barrels. The railing safety fence for a considerable distance either side of the existing Puffin Crossing also reduces the width of the footway. It is disappointing that full curb segregated cycle way is not proposed for this section as that would mean that the railings could possibly be removed.

The junction with Beech Road may require some further consideration. It is a proposed Bee line and the new Manchester Green Trail will also have a section that comes up from Chorlton Park and continues here. There could be a case for relocating one of the existing Puffin crossings to be nearer the junction.

Either side of the road from Beech Road down to Brook Bank Bridge, is characterised by a number of business premises with a range of formal and informal access across the footway to premises parking. The standard varies and, in some cases, it is not clear from existing mapping that it was ever envisaged that there would be vehicle access across the footway. This section should be carefully reviewed and much clearer curb alignment and defined ways into/onto premises parking should be introduced.

From Brook Bank Bridge to Hardy Lane, on the east side the current alignments are proposed to be maintained. We noted that the existing cycle route is underused, in part because the existing section does not readily lead to any attractive options to the north and to the south where there is confusion and conflicts, particular at peak school times along the existing shared path and probably as a consequence is poorly maintained. The new proposed cycle route should make this a well-used section; therefore, it will be important to upgrade both the existing cycle and footway to the required standard, and review the shared path arrangements by the school entrance and proposed new bus loading points.

The upgrade to a Toucan crossing and a short well-defined section of shared path to cross towards the proposed Cundiff Road Beeline, is welcomed and would assist in links to routes through Chorlton Park.

On the west side of the road from Brook Bank Bridge to Hardy Lane the footway is crossed by wide access points to the garage and formally and informally for access to the commercial premises. This section should be carefully reviewed and much clearer curb alignment and defined ways into/onto premises parking should be introduced.

To the south of Cundiff Road, the footway is crossed by a number of drive ways but the proposed curb segregated cycle lane should help to promote safer usage of the footway as drivers have to negotiate more clearly defined footway crossing points.