Correspondence between Warrington Cycle Campaign and Wigan Borough Council regarding cycle lanes on Newton Road

Dear Mr Taylor,

I am writing on behalf of the Warrington Cycle Campaign to express our concern at the extremely narrow cycle lanes that are painted on the A572 Newton Road in Lowton. These are less than the half the minimum recommended width for such facilities and, as can be seen in the photograph, barely the width of a bicycle. Indeed the lanes are so narrow, that the white line is to the left of the road position that a competent cyclist would adopt.

Narrow cycle lanes force cyclists to ride too close to the kerb for safety and overtaking drivers give less clearance than they would otherwise. The result is that any cyclist riding in the lane has no room to manoeuvre.

Could you please arrange for these cycle lanes to be removed as soon as possible in the interest of cyclist safety?

Yours sincerely
Pete Owens
For the Warrington Cycle Campaign

Dear Mr Owens

I refer to your letter dated 21 October 2005 concerning Newton Road Lowton.

Firsltly, let me make it clear that there are no cycle lanes on Newton Road. As you are no doubt aware a cycle lane a cycle lane with a continuous white line (Diagram 1049 of the TSR & GD 2002) is a mandatory cycle lane which would need signing and road markings in support of it as well as a traffic regulation order.

The markings on Newton Road are edge of carriageway markings (Diagram No. 1012.1 of TSR & GD 2002) laid down to give the impression that the road is narrower than it actually is with the aim of slowing traffic. Cyclists may ride inside the line if they so wish but the markings are not there for this specific reason.

As such I will not be removing the lining.

Should you have any further queries regarding this matter please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely
Lee Buckley
Area Engineer (Traffic Management)

Dear Mr Buckley,

Thank you for your letter of 9th November 2005, explaining that the sub-standard cycle lanes painted on the A572 Newton Road are not in fact cycle lanes, but edge of carriageway markings.

Whatever purpose the Council may have had for installing the road markings the point remains that most cyclists and, more importantly, other road users believe that these markings are cycle lanes and act accordingly. Inexperienced cyclists may believe that they are expected to ride to the left of the stripe, and thus put themselves in danger by riding much too close to the kerb. Some motorists act aggressively towards cyclists who position themselves correctly to the right of the line.

The confusion (if not the aggression) is entirely understandable. First, cycle symbols are painted at the start of each lane (I can find no reference to such markings on Diagram No. 1012.1 of TSR & GD 2002). Second, the lines are not painted at the edge of the carriageway as you would expect for edge of carriageway markings. TSR & GD 2002 specifies that they should be about 225mm from the edge. It is likely that the Council would be considered liable in the event of an accident involving a cyclist on this stretch of road due to the ambiguity of the road markings.

Could you please arrange for these road markings to be removed as soon as possible in the interest of cyclist safety? Alternatively, could you ensure that measures are put in place to remove the ambiguity and make it clear to all road users that these are not cycle lanes. It is critical for safety that cyclists understand that they can legitimately ride in the main carriageway and that motorists expect to encounter cyclists there. Such measures could include hatching the area to the left of the white line and removing the cycle symbols at the start of the lanes.

Yours sincerely,
Pete Owens
For the Warrington Cycle Campaign

Dear Mr Owens

I refer to your letter of 20 November 2005 concerning the road markings on Newton Road.

I can only reiterate the previous correspondence on this issue. The edge of carriageway markings, denoting a hard strip, visually reduce the width of the carriageway, providing road safety benefits by reducing the general speed of traffic. Reducing vehicle speeds has been proved to reduce the likelihood of collision occuring and will reduce the severity of these accidents that do occur.

Diagram 1057 indicates a cycle lane, track or route. As there is no cycle track or cycle lane this symbol indicates a route available to cyclists.

I will not hatch out the hard strip as you request, as this type of marking is not permitted in TRSGD. Furthermore, this would remove the option of cyclists who may choose to ride within the hard strip as a result of the potential discomfort caused by the hatched markings.

Feedback that has been received by the Council, from nearby residents regarding this speed management initiative, is generally positive, and that the perceived vehicle speeds in the area have been controlled. As such, I do not consider there is a deed at present to amend the road markings provided as part of this scheme.

Yours sincerely
Robert Owen
(Traffic Management & DC)