Crompton Way – another poor Bolton design, and an absent one.

I had to visit the health centre in Harwood today, so I thought I’d come back a slightly longer route and take a video of Crompton way, part of which has recently been repainted. This is a pictorial commentary on my short journey from the junction with Thicketford Road to the junction with Blackburn Road, the A666.

The pictures start as I exit from Thicketford Road to turn right onto Crompton Way. Thankfully, the speed limit on this section has been reduced to 30mph from the 40mph it was previously. However, there is no protection for cyclists at this point; not even paint. It is difficult to see why as there is surely enough space here!

The door zone slalom

Next, we come to the start of the cycle lane. What’s wrong with this? Well, it isn’t wide enough for a start. This is the ring road around Bolton; it is quite a busy road at times so the width should be at least 2 metres.

Very soon after the cycle lane starts, it swerves to the right to go along the outside of parked cars.

Anyone who knows anything about cycling and cycle infrastructure design should know that you never ride in the door opening zone of parked cars; this really is basic stuff. There is no way that I’m going to ride in the cycle lane here:

Part way along this door zone section, there is a pedestrian refuge. Today there was nobody parked at that point but you can see the difficulty here. Drivers will be trying to overtake cyclists and will cut them up into the pinch point. The cycle lane makes this worse by feeding the driver’s sense of entitlement to pass unimpeded.

This green car is parked in the shaded area of the road at the end of the parking section. As far as I can tell, this driver was not breaking any laws; the area is bounded by a dashed white line and there are no yellow lines forbidding parking. Fortunately, my big flag encourages people to pass wide, like this taxi driver, showing just how much room is available on this very wide road for a council to do things properly.

After this first door zone section ends, the cycle lane takes me across the mouth of a side road in exactly the road position that my Bikeability cycling instructor told me to avoid.

The above picture illustrates very well the kind of flawed thinking that goes into designs like this. The designer clearly has one aim above all else, which is to avoid impeding the flow of motor vehicles in any way. That aim trumps all other considerations, including the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. The narrow, unprotected cycle lane across the junction mouth ensures that space is available to create a pair of right turn lanes so that motor vehicles that very occasionally need to turn into these 20mph residential streets don’t delay the precious motor traffic in getting to the next red light. Rather than have a proper crossing, which could also delay motorists, pedestrians are forced to take their chances, crossing in two stages once there is a blessed gap in the traffic.

Next up comes the second door zone cycle lane. At this time of day, there are not many people parked there but don’t let that fool you.

Again there is no way that I will ride in that lane, and another overtaking car shows again how much space is available to do things properly.

As we progress further, past another side road where the cycle lane seems to be deliberately designed to put the rider in the worst possible position at exactly that point, again with the precious right turn lanes evident,

we come to the start of the third door zone section.

I’m a bit more nervous about moving out this time because of the big arsed truck that is now coming up behind me

but fortunately this driver is a good one who doesn’t try to barge me out of the way as we pass another 20mph residential street and into another pinch point, but perhaps the big flag is helping here.

So after I have passed the fourth door zone cycling section

then been encouraged to swerve sharply into the mouth of another side road with a blind approach,

the patient truck driver is able to overtake just before I reach the fifth door zone cycling section. Just look at the lovely space that the designer has provided for the cyclist between the parked cars and the truck as is passes the obligatory pinch point.

I don’t think so, do you?

Fortunately, though, there is still plenty of space for people to overtake – and even do it safely if you have a big flag sticking out from your bike; space that could well have been used to make things safe for cyclists who don’t have a big flag, perhaps.

Not forgetting the important shaded parking area again

as the cycle lane moves left again to create left hook central at the petrol station.

followed by another SMIDSY opportunity.

Of course, even if you are painting yellow lines, it wouldn’t be reasonable to stop people obstructing the cycle lane all the time when you can restrict it just enough to be able to pretend you give a sh … monkeys.

Unfortunately there is only space left to get in one more left hook opportunity

as all good things must come to an …

After all, it wouldn’t do to have all this cycling luxury extended across the junction, where good infrastructure is most needed. No, better to leave the cyclists to their own devices and just put in this little sinecure

The 40mph section

Once past the traffic lights at Tonge Moor Road, the speed limit changes to 40mph

Clearly, that warrants a much higher standard of cycling infrastructure than the 30mph stretch, and you obviously wouldn’t allow parking to get in the way of cyclists’ safety, would you? And you surely wouldn’t have people blocking the footway with their cars?

OK, maybe that was just a one-off. Pedestrians must surely be the priority at all times … or perhaps not. For example, this crossing is used to get from one platform to the other at Hall-i’th-Wood station. Why on earth it has to be taken in two stages is completely beyond me. It should have a single stage crossing with sufficient time for pedestrians to get the whole way across. Oh, but that would cause a few more seconds delay for the holy motor traffic.

Not that there’s any problem with hindering the flow of motor vehicles, just as long as it’s only other motor vehicles doing the hindering, as well as increasing the danger for cyclists along this 40mph ring road. Heaven forbid they should have provided parking when they built the developments on the left.

I guess the designers think that another of the sinecure Advance Stop Lines is the best that can be achieved

After all, it’s so unreasonable to expect the designers to cater properly for active travel – cycling and walking – when the road has so little space available

and you surely can’t expect drivers to slow down to make a tighter turn into this 20mph residential street:If only the people who built the bridge over Eagley Brook hadn’t made it so narrow:

Sorry, I got a little sarcastic there.

Of course, one might ask, given that the road is so wide and drivers are able to give such a wide berth to cyclists anyway, why would cycle infrastructure even be needed? Well here is an example from my own personal experience. I find it hard to pass along this part of the road

without being reminded of this particular occasion

It’s incidents like this that have led to me riding always with a big flag sticking out to my right hand side.

So, you can understand my joy and relief when I get to the end of Crompton Way and can sample the delights of Astley Bridge Junction where this, the A58, crosses the A666.

Or maybe not.

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