Ambitious plan to boost cycling and walking in Wigan

How Warrington Road would look
How Warrington Road would look

Plans for the latest ambitious multi-million-pound scheme to boost cycling and walking in the borough are being considered by regional bosses.

The £32.2m project linking Standish to Ashton, made up of 13 miles of traffic-free routes, is one of 15 schemes across the region which Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) will decide whether to approve or not.

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The ambitious scheme by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) will provide those on two wheels or on foot an alternative to the car along Wigan’s busy A49 corridor.

The project involves almost six miles of resurfaced off-road routes, four miles of refurbished canal towpath and three miles of new path being laid along a disused railway line, including the Whelley viaduct.

The scheme is part of TfGM’s Bee Network, which covers more than 1,800 miles.

Around £22.2m for the enormous Wigan project will come from the Mayor’s Challenge Fund, with the other £10m being made up from local contributions.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said: “The schemes being proposed are an exciting next step towards building the Bee Network.

“When complete it will be the largest joined-up walking and cycling network in the country.

“We’re embarking on an active travel revolution in Greater Manchester and I’m looking forward to the first Bee Network schemes opening later this year.”

The A49 corridor revamp will include three sets of steps being replaced with ramps to open up the Three Bridges link over the canal, river and railway.

Around 13 protected junctions on A-roads will also be delivered while neighbourhoods along the route will be made more cycle and walking-friendly, with new parking areas to leave bikes and parklets created.

Altogether there will be around three miles of segregated cycle lanes.

Greater Manchester’s cycling and walking commissioner, Olympic champion Chris Boardman, said: “A true alternative to the car is something that Greater Manchester residents clearly want, that’s why I’m so pleased to announce that our planned network is now longer and more comprehensive than before.”

As well as the local schemes TfGM is ploughing ahead with its plans for a Greater Manchester-wide bike hire scheme, the first phase of which is stated to be launched next spring.

The regional drive to get people out of their cars and in the saddle or on foot includes creating a network of cycling and walking routes known as Beeways as well as Dutch-style lanes completely protected from motor traffic.

As part of the drive the Saddle Junction has already been completely remodelled while a notoriously muddy stretch of canal towpath in Astley has also been resurfaced.

GMCA has also considered improvements to road crossings in Gidlow and Swinley as well as an ambitious multi-million-pound plan for the Leigh side of the

borough.