A plan to temporarily create a seven-mile cycling lane connecting Altrincham with Manchester city centre has been unveiled by Trafford Council – and it could be a permanent move.
After receiving emergency cash from the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Cycling and Walking Challenge Fund, the council is to section off a seven-mile stretch of the A56 – the main road connecting Altrincham and the city centre – for cyclists.
The “major” work will see the A56 divided up into areas and delivered in phases – starting with a section around Stretford Mall, where the number of lanes for cars will be reduced from three to two to create additional space for walking and cycling.
That work is planned to only take two weeks – and if successful, would lead to further sections on the road towards Altrincham, with the aim to complete the work by June 15th.
Trafford Council leader, Andrew Western, said: “Over the past few weeks the Council has been looking at ways in which we can support the rapid growth in walking and cycling journeys we have seen since the commencement of lockdown. This is particularly important now that government guidance has changed to increase the number of people returning to work whilst strongly encouraging commuters to avoid public transport.
“There is consequently a need – with walking and cycling up and road journeys down by more than half – to temporarily reallocate some road space to increase space for non-car users, particularly given the increased usage of the canal towpath where social distancing is challenging.
“It had been a priority to look at improving our walking and cycling infrastructure in any event, with more than £30m allocated to supporting schemes across the borough over the next three years.”
He added: “Today we are announcing that next week we will be reducing the number of lanes on the A56 through Stretford from three lanes to two lanes to create additional space for walking and cycling and to enable social distancing for commuters without cars.”
“These initial proposals will be constantly reviewed for safety, with a further proposal to reallocate space on the rest of the A56 from Altrincham all the way to White City creating a continuous pop-up lane to be in place in full and completed by 15th June.”
Cllr Steve Adshead, Executive Member for Environment, Air Quality and Climate Change at Trafford Council, said the authority would be “looking closely at how these short-term and essential measures… can help us move towards a place that we want future generations to be able to enjoy”.
Trafford say the proposals will help movement for pedestrians too, with special crossing points being introduced at locations such as bus stops and traffic signals.