Call for major Preston route to lose a lane to keep cyclists safe – and highway bosses have not ruled it out

A cycling enthusiast from Preston is calling for a temporary lane reduction on one of the main roads into the city to be made permanent - and the space given over to bike-riders.

Luke Bosman, a former chair of Garstang Cycling Club, says that the closure of a lane on Brockholes Brow has made traffic flow more smoothly - and provides a “great opportunity” to create a new cycle-friendly route.

He wants to see a segregated cycle lane introduced on the busy section of the A59 that runs between junction 31 of the M6 and New Hall Lane.

The road normally has two lanes running up the hill towards Preston and one heading downhill in the direction of the motorway.

Luke Bosman wants a segregated cycle lane installed on Brockholes Brow - something which he says would actually improve the flow of motorised traffic

However, a landslip back in March 2021 caused the usual downward lane to be closed - leaving only one lane operating in each direction ever since.

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Work is due to take place to stabilise the affected embankment later this summer, enabling the road to be returned to its usual layout after a period during which it will be shut completely.

But Luke - who lives on a nearby side street - wants Lancashire County Council to consider switching the lane closure to the other side of the road and reserving that part of the route solely for cyclists when the brow reopens.

The point at which the two lanes of Brockholes Brow merge into the single file New Hall Lane has long been a bottleneck for drivers heading into Preston (image: Google)

He told the Lancashire Post that the current set-up proved that such a change could benefit drivers as much as biker-riders - by uncorking the bottleneck where the two Preston-bound lanes of traffic become one at the point where the road morphs into New Hall Lane.

“I’ve been driving up there almost every day for 25 years - and it flows so much better now.

“Very rarely has the actual volume of traffic been an issue - except on days when the M6 is shut. [Any delays] were because of people thinking other drivers were barging in [at the top of the hill].

“Also, people who are trying to turn right to get onto the estate with Brockholes Primary School [can now] do that without clogging up the traffic.

A landslip on the M6-bound side of Brockholes Brow in March 2021 pushed the usual single downward lane into what is normally the outer of the two city-bound lanes - and it has been that way ever since

“There is space to do what I’m suggesting. My [idea] is that you would widen what is now the middle by a few feet and have [that] for traffic going up and then a cycle lane [to the left of it] - and everyone's a winner.

“Motorists would gain from the continued good traffic flow and, if you've got a cycle lane of sufficient width, that also means you've got a route for emergency vehicles when [Brockholes Brow] is blocked.

“I'm seriously struggling to think of a disadvantage,” added Luke, who has previously stood for election to Preston City Council as a Liberal Democrat.

He is convinced that it is not the gradient of the brow that currently deters people from taking to two wheels along what he descibes as a “doable” route - but a fear that they would be taking their life in their hands if they did so.

Work to stabilise the embankment over the summer would see the road returned to two lanes Preston-bound and one heading downhill towards the M6 - but should it really go back to that layout?

“I did cycle up there a few times before deciding that, actually, it wasn't fun. If you're just around the corner of the bend on Brockholes Brow [on a bike], drivers aren't expecting to suddenly see a cyclist doing four miles-per-hour.

“It’s actually a reasonable defence in law that if you believe your life is imperilled, you may use a pavement with care - and that is the only road in Lancashire where I will ever use the pavement, because it's just too dangerous.

“But we’ve now got this chance to install an extra spoke on the Guild Wheel,” said Luke .

The Post put his pedal-empowering proposition to Lancashire County Council, which is responsible for most of the region’s non-motorway routes - and the authority said that it would be open to the idea of making cycling more tempting in that part of Preston.

County Cllr Rob Bailey, lead member for highways and active travel at County Hall, said: "We are committed to improving people's options for active travel - and the ongoing improvements to cycling and walking infrastructure elsewhere in Preston, between the city centre and Penwortham, and the recently completed Adelphi Square scheme, show the direction we are taking and our ambitions for the future.

"We are currently working to identify priorities for future strategic improvements to cycling and walking infrastructure and are due to publish our draft Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plans in the near future, which will set the foundation for future investments.

"These plans will identify potential improvements to major routes linking centres of population - and the suggestion of improving cycling facilities near Brockholes to provide better connections to the east is one I would like to explore further, subject to future funding," County Cllr Bailey said.

Brockholes Brow is due to close fully, in both directions, from 25th July for around seven weeks while a 40-metre section of the unstable embankment on the motorway-bound side of the route is shored up.

Preston City Council - which owns the land in question - said last month that the work would be carried out around the clock, seven days a week, in recognition of the need to minimise the duration of the closure of such a significant route.

The embankment has been found to still be shifting by around 10cm per month and could result in a larger landslip if left unattended, the authority warned.

Pedestrian access will remain throughout the closure and signed diversions will be in place for motorists.