Work is to begin next week on an ambitious multi-million pound improvement scheme at one of Wigan’s busiest junctions.
A new £2.1 scheme at the Saddle Junction will see a network of cycleways created and a major upgrade in a bid to improve journeys for all road users.
Other news: Residents give views on £2.1m cycling plans
It is part of the Cycle City programme led by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) with Department for Transport funding and includes a range of measures that will make cycling and walking a more attractive option for residents and visitors.
The new routes will provide safer, direct and convenient cycling and walking facilities to and through Saddle Junction, linking Marsh Green, Kitt Green and Newtown with Robin Park and Wigan town centre.
The first phase of the works will include a dedicated cycleway which will be fully separated from traffic along Robin Park Road, from Saddle Junction to Hunter Road.
The 1km cycleway will be built in the grass verge and the majority of the route will be separated from the pedestrian footpath by a kerb. New pedestrian and cycle crossings will also be installed along the route.
Improvements will be made to the traffic light junction at Wallgate and Queen Street, including a ‘Toucan’ crossing and upgraded shared use pavement to connect the existing cycling and pedestrian route from Saddle Junction into the town centre.
The second phase of the scheme will include two-way dedicated cycle crossings, with low-level signals for cyclists around Saddle Junction. Once complete, the new crossings will help people to cycle across town and avoid busy junctions.
In response to suggestions made in the public consultation, there will also be improvements to the cycling and walking routes through Laithwaite Park and additional cycle parking in the town centre.
The project is designed to support the economic growth of the town, helping people to access employment opportunities, health, education and leisure facilities.
Chris Boardman, Greater Manchester Cycling and Walking Commissioner, said: “When I took on the role of Commissioner, I identified that, for cycling and walking to become a much bigger part of how we get around, they must be made easy, attractive and safe, otherwise, why would people get out of their cars?
“Currently, this is often not the case and, as a consequence, an astonishing 30 per cent of journeys of less than one kilometre in Greater Manchester are currently driven. This contributes to congestion, poor health and air pollution.
“We know this needs to change and excitingly, we know people want to change. It’s our intention to give communities easy, attractive and safe alternatives to driving, and in doing so, make our region the most attractive place to live in the UK. So I’m delighted to see the great work Wigan Council and TfGM has done on this new scheme and I’m particularly excited about plans for the cycle crossings at Saddle Junction.
“It is an innovative design that offers complete segregation from motor traffic – exactly what people told us they needed in order to switch to two wheels for trips to the shops, work and school.
“My new team has offered to work with Wigan Council to further enhance the scheme through providing more landscaping and to ensure the great work in Wigan connects seamlessly to our Greater Manchester-wide network as it is developed.”
Emma Barton, Wigan Council’s Assistant Director for Economy and Regeneration, said: “It is fantastic news that we are starting on site with the first phase of this exciting cycling infrastructure project for Wigan.
“Developing the right infrastructure for cycling is crucial to improving air quality, reducing congestion, promoting healthier travel and safely connecting our residential areas with our town centres.
“We will be working with our partners, TfGM and the scheme’s contractors to ensure any disruption caused by the works will be kept to a minimum.”
The first phase of works (the cycleway on Robin Park Road) is expected to begin on Monday and will be completed by the summer. During this time,
Wigan Council will regularly update their roadworks bulletin. The second phase of the work is due to start in April.
Following the £20m first phase of the Greater Manchester Cycle City programme which is now complete, this second phase involves a £22m investment in mainly segregated new and improved cycle routes across the region, five new cycle-friendly district centres, including Wigan, further improvements to cycle parking and continued cycle training and support.
It also involves 10 new schools and colleges joining the Cycle Schools and Colleges project, including Wigan and Leigh College.