Letter to the Trans-Pennine Trail requesting the removal of dangerous cycle facilities on Forrest Way

PH Owens
17 Beech Road
Stockton Heath
1st March 2003

Trans Pennine Trail Office
c/o Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council
Central Offices
Kendray Street
South Yorkshire
S70 2TN

Our Ref: WCC/PHO/FW/001

Dear Sir or Madam,

It has recently come to our attention that the Trans-Pennine Trail has placed a number of cycle 'facilities' on Forrest Way in Warrington where the trail crosses the River Mersey. These have been designed without any regard for standards or good practice and cause a number of hazards to cyclists.

The most dangerous features are the extremely narrow cycle lanes. At 1m these are only half the recommended width for such facilities. This forces cyclists to ride too close to the kerb for safety and overtaking drivers give less clearance than they would otherwise. This is particularly serious where the cycle lane follows the left hand turn at the roundabout. Even a full width cycle lane would be unsafe in this situation as it is important for cyclists to adopt a prominent road position approaching roundabouts to discourage other vehicles from overtaking. This is most important in the case of lorries, which are common on this stretch of road, as the middle of a long vehicle will be further to the left than the ends. A driver attempting to overtake a cyclist riding in the cycle lane has no margin for error whatsoever, and the cyclist has no room to escape in the case of a misjudgement.

The signs directing cyclists to ride on the pavements are also problematical. Not only are the pavements too narrow to accommodate shared use (as narrow as 1.4m in places), but also they force cyclists to make difficult turning manoeuvres. Previously it was straightforward. Cyclists approaching the road from the cycle path would simply stop at the junction in a position perpendicular to the road from where they had a clear view in both directions, and then turn onto the road when it was clear. Now cyclists are expected to follow the pavement for a few metres. From this position parallel to the road they have too look behind them to check that the road is clear, and then perform a very tight right-angle turn before crossing.

Please could you arrange for these facilities to be removed before they result in a casualty?

Yours sincerely

Pete Owens
For the Warrington Cycle Campaign