‘Safe’ cycle route panned by Samlesbury residents

Walkers Nick and Julie Marsden with Councillors Barrie Yates and Alan Schofield beside the cycle lane

Walkers Nick and Julie Marsden with Councillors Barrie Yates and Alan Schofield beside the cycle lane

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A cycle route aimed at making journeys safer has only made things worse, according to worried locals.

The Cycle Safety Scheme linking junction 31 of the M6 and BAe Samlesbury was opened a year ago and takes cyclists off the busy A59, and instead along country lanes and a former bridleway.

It was largely funded by a £200,000 grant from the Department for Transport (DfT) Cycle Safety fund and aimed at making cycling to BAe more attractive for a workforce soon to expand to 10,000.

Samlesbury residents, the parish council and County Councillors Barrie Yates and Alan Schofield battled against the plans, warning that the narrow country lanes were unsuitable because of the number of of farm vehicles.

Now they say fears about accidents are becoming reality, with several near misses.

But County Council officials say official statistics tell a different story and cycling groups are happy.

Coun Yates said: “Nobody around here wanted this cycle scheme, but our concerns were ignored. The highways department at County Hall steamrollered it through.

“So what’s happening is you get cyclists on their way to BAe with their heads down, seeing how fast they can go. There’s lots of blind bends and the roads are very narrow, and all of a sudden a tractor is there.

“Luckily there’s not been any serious incidents, but I have heard that someone ran their Range Rover into a hedge to swerve out of the way of a cyclist, and there have been several near misses with tractors.

“What would have been much better to have had a dedicated cycle lane running along the A59. That would have been safer and a shorter route.”

Lancashire County Council said that in the two years before the scheme was opened there were three injury accidents at junction 31 of the M6 and three on the A59, with one fatality outside BAe.

In the year since it has opened, there has been no accidents at the motorway junction and one on the A59 between the motorway and BAe.

Coun Coun John Fillis said: “The cycleway is safe and the evidence supports that.

“These concerns have not been raised with me or the police and there hasn’t been any mention of near misses, but if there are concerns with a specific area, then we will look at it.”

He pointed out that consultation had been widely carried out before the scheme opened, and that Lancashire Cycling Forum members were happy.