A NEW mile-long cycle path goes live on one of Wigan’s busiest roads next month with council chiefs hoping it gets commuters on their bikes.
The route out of the town and up to Pemberton comes thanks to a £734,000 grant from the Department of Transport’s Cycle Safety Fund.
The finishing touches are now being put to the shared-use, unsegregated, two-way cycle track on the widened northern footway of Wallgate from the railway bridge, the widened southern footway through Saddle Junction and the widened northern footway of Ormskirk Road up to and including Ridyard Street.
It will separate cyclists from other traffic with the aim of preventing accidents.
The stretch of road covered is one of the most dangerous in the borough. In the last five years, there have been four serious accidents involving bicycles on the route with a further 13 slight injuries. Senior transport officer Peter Wickett said: “We analysed where in the borough has the highest number of accidents and applied for the funding which we were granted last year.
“The path will be physically separate from motor traffic, enhancing safety and enabling cyclists to use a direct route into the town centre.
“The funding was made available to local government two years ago. We held consultations with local residents and businesses with a drop-in day where they could come in and discuss the proposals.
“The route is now marked out and should be ready for use by the end of May.”
It chimes well with National Bike Week which launches on June 14 and the council planning on a number of events to promote cycling across the borough.
It is hoped the new path will encourage more commuters to swap their cars for bikes and so boost the ongoing Cycle to Work scheme.
A cycle counter has also been put in place to monitor its usage.
One issue which some businesses and road users have highlighted is that, as a result of the path being put in place, the road has now narrowed to accommodate it.
But traffic manager Kevin Hargreaves insists this would not affect traffic flow whatsoever. He said: “At no point will the road be narrower than 7m so that won’t impact on speeds or double yellow lines.
“The cycle route will be a great addition to traffic management and will hopefully see a rise in the number of cyclists.”