Furious locals, who rely on Kingsway in Penwortham to get home, to school, to church and to their family doctors, are set to bombard County Hall with objections to a plan to block access from Liverpool Road so cyclists can travel unimpeded.
The project to build a new “Cycle Superhighway” between the town and Preston is already up and running after trials during the Covid pandemic.
But objectors fear it will bring traffic chaos back to the centre of Penwortham, just 18 months after a new bypass was meant to relieve things.
A campaign was launched this week to fight the plan for Kingsway which opponents say has been ill-thought-out.
“Hardly anyone is using the cycle route - this is absolute madness,” said Coun David Howarth who represents Penwortham on county, district and town councils.
County Hall bosses say the one-way plan, which would make Kingsway inaccessible from Liverpool Road, is necessary to avoid traffic cutting across in front of cyclists travelling down Penwortham Hill.
But in a survey conducted by the Post during the morning rush hour yesterday, only nine cyclists used the Superhighway in 75 minutes between 7.45am and 9am. At the same time almost 600 vehicles used the junction with Kingsway.
“As a cyclist myself, a cycleway is a good idea,” said Rev Chris Nelson, whose St Mary’s Church will be affected by the new plans. “But not at the expense of so many people who need to access Kingsway.
“The Manchester to Blackpool cycle ride came through Penwortham on Sunday and while I was watching not one of the riders used the cycleway, they all came down the normal carriageway
“This all needs rethinking. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Locals say the detour for traffic coming up Penwortham Hill will funnel drivers into an already busy junction by the Fleece traffic lights before sending it right, down a narrow Priory Lane.
And with the main A59 now reduced at that point to just one lane in either direction since roadworks were completed near to the new Tesco store, residents are worried their town will see a return to the traffic problems the bypass was meant to solve.
Dozens of locals attended a drop-in meeting at The Venue - the town’s former library - on Monday to hear Coun Howarth urge all those who are concerned to lodge an objection to the scheme before the end of the consultation period in three weeks on July 30.
“We all have to object - get those objections in," he said. "You can’t deny all those residents, all those businesses, facilities and churches etc vehicular access. It will such an effect on people’s lives.”
And later Coun Howarth told the Post: “This is the main access road to more than 1,000 houses and a health centre. It is the route of the 119 circular bus which a lot of elderly and disabled people depend on.
“All the traffic will now have to go to the crossroads at the top and turn right down Priory Lane, which will be single lane because of cars parked on one side.
“It needs rethinking to solve the problems that are there, not ones which aren’t.”
Rev Nelson, whose parishioners will have to take a detour around the houses to get to St Mary’s, added: “It just seems odd that they are planning to close off one of the widest roads in Penwortham to make it one-way and divert traffic through a busy junction and then down a narrower Priory Lane which has cars parked along one side.
“We won’t be able to get a hearse or a wedding car down there. We have two signs on Penwortham Hill directing drivers to St Mary’s Church, one coming up and one going down. If it becomes ‘no entry’ then they will become redundant.”
One resident who attended the drop-in meeting said: “They are just going to push all that traffic up the road to the junction with Priory Lane and Cop Lane. It’s going to be very dangerous, as well as a bottleneck.”
Another warned: “That whole junction, which has just been redesigned, is going to fail because it is single lanes and it isn’t geared up for right turns.
“I will have three sets of traffic lights, a roundabout and a 0.7-mile detour to get where I want to be. The boss of LCC Highways needs to come here and explain this to us.”
County Hall chiefs say their plans also include a road hump at the junction of Kingsway with parallel crossings on top for cyclists and pedestrians. They say they are keen to hear from people about the scheme.
“As part of these improvement plans, we are proposing to introduce a one-way traffic system on Kingsway from 65 metres in a south-easterly direction to its junction with Liverpool Road,” said Coun Charlie Edwards, cabinet member for highways and transport.
“In addition to this, we propose to install parallel crossings for pedestrians and cyclists positioned on top of a road hump, over the junction of Kingsway.
“These measures will reduce traffic movements across the cycle lane and slow speeds at its junction with Liverpool Road.
“As well as providing safety improvements for pedestrians, cyclists and other vulnerable users, the new cycleway will encourage sustainable transport between Preston and Penwortham and improve local air quality.”
The council has published orders for the proposed one-way system and parallel crossings. More information is available at “Penwortham to Preston Cycle Superhighway” on the LCC website.
We carried out a traffic count at Liverpool Road/Kingsway during yesterday morning’s rush hour (7:45am to 9am) to assess the danger to riders caused by vehicles using the junction.
In the 75 minutes we were monitoring the Cycle Superhighway only nine riders used it travelling down towards Preston.
During the same period we logged almost 600 cars, vans, wagons and buses driving in and out of Kingsway - an average of 65 for every bike.
Of the 582 vehicles using the junction, 314 of those came out of Kingsway (which will still be allowed under the LCC scheme), mostly turning left into the cycle lane as it comes down Penwortham Hill.
Of the remaining 268 who accessed Kingsway, 237 of those did so after driving up the hill and then turning right across the cycle lane.
At no point was there an issue with traffic for any of the nine cyclists who used the Cycle Superhighway.
The idea for a Penwortham to Preston Cycle Superhighway was born out of the Covid pandemic when people were being encouraged to take short cycle rides to improve their health.
It is also part of a far wider plan to get people out of cars and into taking more journeys by bike or on foot to cut congestion and air pollution in the city centre .
Lancashire County Council admit schemes like Penwortham and Winckley Square and Fylde Road in Preston were only ever meant to be “emergency measures” and not permanent.
But the pop-up one in Penwortham, linking up with one already completed near to Penwortham Bridge, was hailed as a “success” by council chiefs and a Traffic Regulation Order for the Kingsway junction has now been issued.
To have you say go to: https://www.lancashire.gov.uk/roads-parking-and-travel/roads/roadworks-and-traffic-regulation-orders/permanent/proposed-traffic-regulation-orders-tros/