New Bolton-Bury Shared Path

[UPDATE (August 2018): Since this article was written, a lot of work has been done on the Bury side of the boundary. This video shows the whole route from Manchester Road in Bolton to the tram station in Radcliffe.]

Original article:

A couple of days ago, I tried out the new cycle path that has been built between Bolton town centre and the Bolton-Bury boundary, a distance of about 2.3 miles. This is less than half the distance from Bolton to Bury, but it is a start. I’ve put this post together quickly to share some pictures and some observations. Here is a map of the route:

BoltonBuryCycleway

The path makes use of some railway bridges that have been out of use for decades, which is good, though I’m not convinced of the need to put cages over them:

Tunnel1 DarcyLeverViaduct

The second one shown there is the old Darcy Lever viaduct.

There is also a new bridge that has been built over a small residential access road:

NewBridge

(More about the gates later.)

On the plus side, the path itself has a good surface and and the width varies between good and adequate for most of its length:

Path1

That is good as it is a vast improvement over what has gone before. But (yes, of course there is a but) there are many negatives as well. I will list and illustrate these below.

The path is not lit, so it will be useful only in daylight for most people. This makes it of little use for commuting, or for much utility cycling. Worse than that, it is littered with low level obstacles in the form of little bollards, which are a nuisance at the best of times, but would be quite dangerous in the dark. Here are some examples:

Bollard1Bollard3 Bollard4 Bollard5 Bollard2

The path also has a number of gates, which I think are supposed to prevent people bringing motorcycles:

Gate1 Gate2 MoreObstacles

These are slightly wider than the ones I have often encountered, but I imagine would still present a problem for people on non-standard cycles and, as usual, could be deemed a failure to address the requirements of the disability discrimination act. The gates also didn’t stop my having to brake for these quad bikes:

QuadBikes

Another issue that harms the use of the path for serious transport cycling is that it is shared with pedestrians, including those with dogs on long extending leads, and horses.

Pedestrians1

In general, I find pedestrians on these shared paths almost never hear me ringing the bell on approach and, even though I slow right down, they then express alarm and surprise as I get closer. These two just froze to the spot and waited for me to get through the non-existent gap, so we were all stood there for quite a while.

I haven’t done a proper audit of this facility, but overall, I think the council deserves about 4 out of 10 for effort.

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9 Responses to New Bolton-Bury Shared Path

  1. Mitt Doot says:

    I emailed the council to complain about the dangerous, pointless bollards. There was no reply but soon afterwards about 5 of them were removed, to my delight. Unfortunately two were replaced by the other, taller plastic ones with yellow bands, except for three near Bradley Fold which seem to have been removed permanently.
    It’s now faster for me to go to asda (burden park) by bike than by car, which is great. The shared use element definitely reduces the convenience. I’ve found that dinging my bell is effective to clear the way but there’s a need to often slow almost to a stop for the many dog walkers.

    I really hope they extend the path further towards bury, at the very least they could resurface the path leading east from Bradley Lane: ( goo.gl/maps/weWzP ) which avoids the A road.
    The new house farm playing fields section was built a early as mid 2013 I think, and they did NOT grit/plough it in winter, so there was ice and snow there for weeks making it almost unusable when I was trying to cycle to Radcliffe.

  2. Viv Fernside says:

    I am a new cyclist and very nervous of cars, I also live at the back of the cyclist path. I think that the path is great for new cyclists and look forward to it being extended. The bollards and small gateways are great for keeping the motorbikes, illegal off riders to a minimum. I also find most of the pedestrians, dog walkers and horse riders to be happy to move or grab their dogs of which I always make sure I thank them. Surely the path should be enjoyed by all, especially considering it was frequently used by the dog walkers and horse riders before it was converted to a cycle path? If everyone had a little bit more patience I’m sure the path will go from strength to strength with more people getting off their couches to enjoy the great outdoors. I for one and thankful to the council for doing such a good job and giving me a helping hand in getting in shape.

    • Yes, I agree that as a place for people to go in order to ride their bikes away from traffic it is OK. However if the objective is to get people to switch to bicycles for journeys they would otherwise make by car, then I don’t think it will have much effect. This requires that making the journey by cycle is more convenient than making it by car and, apart from a few people who live practically on top of the path, that will not be the case, and even then it will only be useful during daylight hours.
      It really isn’t a matter of patience. Until I retired 6 months ago, I was making the trip from Astley Bridge to work in Salford and back by bicycle; a round trip of 25 miles. I was only able to do that because I could get there in 50 minutes; not much longer than by car. On a path like thud one it would take me at least one and a half hours, which would have just pushed me back to using the car instead. I was able to cycle in that time because I was prepared to do it on the roads; something which most people will not even consider.
      The point is that we will never achieve the kind of benefits that are enjoyed in The Netherlands, and Copenhagen, for example, by building facilities like this.

  3. GrumpyCyclist says:

    I know this an old thread but just to resurrect it briefly: You’re right of course, that we will never achieve the kind of benefits other countries do with shared use paths, but sadly I don’t think we will ever get anything else. We have a National CYCLE Network (there should be a clue in the name) that seems to really be the National Jogger, Dog Walker, Dog Poop, Broken Bottle Network. Although I’m not sure that NJDWDPBBN rolls off the tongue as easily as NCN. the one class of user that seems to be permanently unwelcome on it is cyclists. The saddest thing is that this National Network” is firstly nothing of the sort yet, and secondly has to be funded via charitable donations rather than central government. It will never be what it could be with that restriction.

    Even when we get “segregated” paths – and by that I mean side by side pedestrian/cyclist paths with the relevant sides marked by painted symbols – the cycling one seems fair game for anyone, but don’t go onto the pedestrian side on your bike or you’ll get chased off by a tirade of abuse.

    As to the original point about this Bolton-Bury path, has any more work been done on it? I regularly use the bit from Bolton to Darcy Lever and it’s not that bad, but haven’t yet tried to go any further. Is it a decent path now or did, unsurprisingly, money run out because there were more parking spaces needed somewhere?

    • It’s still much the same. I think some (or possibly just one) of the bollards have been removed. I believe there is a plan to extend it on the Bury side, but nothing yet.

      • GrumpyCyclist says:

        This should have been a shining light in the cycling infrastructure between the two towns, but I’m guessing it’s languishing at the bottom of a “to do when we can find someone who gives a monkey’s” pile. That A58 into Bury is horrendous on a bike.

        • This may be of interest?

          The next Bolton Cycle Forum date is:

          Wednesday 2nd November, 6pm – 7.30pm
          at
          The Community Room, Queen’s Park Pavilion (BL1 4RU)

          • GrumpyCyclist says:

            Funnily enough I got my email about that today. I work permanent nights so it’s tricky to get there but I might try to make it. On the few occasions I’ve emailed they’ve usually been pretty helpful although often the problem is put down to Salford, or Bury, or anywhere but Bolton. Actually got an ongoing barrier issue I’m looking at getting sorted but I think it falls just in Salford but I’ll have to email Bolton to get it forwarded on, which he’s done for me before.

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