Residents give views on £2.1m cycling plans

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and Wigan Council officials at the public consultation in Newtown on the new cycling lanes
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and Wigan Council officials at the public consultation in Newtown on the new cycling lanes

Dozens of Wiganers gave their opinions on efforts to get the town on its bike at a consultation on a new £2.1m cycling scheme.

Around 50 people attended the public event in Newtown to look at proposals for new lanes around the Saddle junction and heading into Wigan town centre.

Officials from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and Wigan Council explained the plan was to encourage more commuters from areas with large housing estates to swap four wheels for two and cycle to work and Wiganers to consider using bikes to get to popular destinations.

New Dutch-style cycle lanes are planned along Robin Park Road with bike-friendly crossings to the retail park and stadium and Alexandra Park will be connected to the Saddle junction via improved cycle access.

The authorities also want to put in a new crossing at Wallgate and Queen Street to make getting into the town centre safer and easier.

The second phase includes creating new routes and crossings around the Saddle junction for cyclists and extending the Ormskirk Road cycleway further into residential areas of Pemberton.

The authorities said the plans had largely been received favourably by those who went, although there were likely to be some changes to aspects of the new lanes and road layouts which had caused concern.

The proposal will now go to scrutiny committee for approval by councillors later this week.

Emma Barton, assistant director for economy and regeneration at the town hall, said: “We were really pleased to see so many residents and local businesses come along and view the plans.

“We had some very positive feedback and it was great to hear people say that they didn’t cycle, but they would on this new route.

“We also listened to concerns and will now be collating the comments and working with TfGM to amend the plans in order to achieve the best possible solution.

“We hope to release details of the final routes for the first phase of schemes, Warrington Road, Robin Park and Wallgate, in late summer and work on these routes is expected to start in autumn.

“The designs for the next phase, Saddle junction and Pemberton cycleway, are still at outline stage and further details of these routes will be released in due course.”

The plans have been created after Wigan was awarded the funding pot from the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Cycle City Ambition Grant to improve two-wheeled infrastructure between town centres and neighbouring communities.

Wigan Council also received £1.02m of Growth Deal funding to be invested in cycling schemes around the town centre.

Elected representatives will now get to consider the plans at Wednesday’s meeting of the Confident Places scrutiny committee.

The report prepared for councillors says ploughing money into two-wheeled transport is intended to bring health benefits, make the borough more environmentally sustainable and reduce accidents involving cyclists.

Scrutiny committee members will be told that Greater Manchester as a whole has to reduce its carbon footprint to below 10 million tonnes by 2020 from its current level of around 17.5 million tonnes.

Wigan Council hopes the Cycle City programme, which the new infrastructure forms part of, will contribute significantly to improving air quality and reducing pollution.

In addition, the authorities want to boost public health by promoting healthier lifestyles which, it is hoped, will start to tackle the region’s high levels of dangous conditions such as heart diseases, obesity and diabetes.

The five improvements being planned under the DfT funding pot are all scheduled to be finished by summer 2018.

As well as that the council is preparing some minor works with the Growth Deal money.

These will cater for cyclists on the main town centre routes, including Wallgate, Standishgate, Market Street, Library Street and King Street, with the Wallgate work connecting.

The scheme on Wallgate will connect to the existing facility on Southgate and form part of the proposed “central boulevard” from Wigan Pier Quarter through to the town centre.

These works are expected to take place between next spring and the end of 2019.

The council is also currently using around £15,000 donated by TfGM to provide additional parking facilities, including hoops and several heart-shaped cycle stands. It is hoped these will all be in place by the end of the month.

Residents or businesses who couldn’t make it to the engagement session can view and comment on the plans on the council’s website at https://wigan.gov.uk/Resident/Parking-Roads-Travel/Travel/Cycle-improvement-plans.aspx