The council removed a pop-up bike lane from Ashfield Road in Sale this week only 48 hours after it had been installed, sparking outrage among local cyclists and others seeking to avoid public transport.
Other commentators backed Trafford Council’s decision, blaming the pop-up cycle lane for increased traffic congestion on the borough’s main roads now more people are commuting to work as lockdown eases.
The council installed the extension to the seven-mile cycle lane along the A56 at the weekend. The temporary lane sits on a southerly stretch of the road travelling into Timperley.
The move was part of wider efforts by Greater Manchester local authorities to safeguard health and wellbeing by making it easier for people to travel without using public transport.
Many of the cycle lanes being installed across the conurbation are intended to become permanent, as part of Greater Manchester’s drive to promote greener, sustainable modes of transport.
However, Trafford has now pulled the extension back to Sale town centre and removed the Timperley link. Cllr Andrew Western, leader of Trafford Council, tweeted yesterday: “Today we have moved the A56 pop-up cycle lane back from Ashfield Road in Sale to the junction of Dane Road to help traffic flow.”
The move was to be reviewed within the next 24 hours, the council added.
Many criticised the decision on Twitter, leading to a heated online debate yesterday and last night.
“Are you [Trafford Council] aware this is directly contradicting the mandate that the transport secretary reiterated today?” one commentator tweeted, referring to Grant Shapps’ call to local authorities to “reprioritise road space use” in favour of cyclists.
Another said: “And so ends Trafford’s lip service to health and the environment. Absolutely pathetic excuse for a council.”
Another tweeted: “Really bad decision in direct contravention of govt guidance. The best way to “help traffic flow” is to enable as many as possible to travel car-free.”
That person was backed by another critic who wrote: “The whole point is to make driving a less attractive option and therefore to make more people consider other modes of transport….”
Today we have moved the A56 pop-up cycle lane back from Ashfield Road in Sale to the junction of Dane Road to help traffic flow.
— Trafford Council (@TraffordCouncil) June 24, 2020
One commentator noted: “In the middle of a respiratory pandemic, you’re facilitating the particulate pollution that increases the susceptibility of vulnerable lungs to the virus.”
However, others countered such arguments. “The pollution [is from] the cars sat in traffic because they can’t move because of an empty cycle lane,” one said.
Another wrote: “There is no need [for] these pop-up cycle lanes anyway. I don’t see anyone using them when I go to work and come back daily.”
Another agreed: “This needs more thought. This morning an ambulance got stuck in Stretford as the first lane was blocked off! On my journey into Manchester this morning I saw one cyclist and he was on the pavement.”
Manchester City Council also came under fire this month for failing to include the provision of temporary cycle lanes in its part of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s £21.5m bid to the Government’s £250m Emergency Active Travel Fund, intended to fund alternative transport measures during the pandemic.
The city council contributed a £600,000 bid towards the application. But, unlike other authorities, it did not propose the installation of pop-up cycle lanes, leaving a five-mile gap in cycling provision across the the conurbation.
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham asked the public for patience and said the bid “is not the finished article and we need to balance road space with other users”.