Maghull – New cycle track from Switch Island towards Maghull on A59

I have commented before about the narrow and completely inadequate cycle/footpath out of Maghull towards Switch Island and it seems someone has been listening as construction work on a much wider path has been taking place in recent weeks from Switch Island up to the pedestrian/cycle crossing just before the Maghull boundary.

I do hope that the highway powers that be Highways England and Sefton Council are going to keep the new path construction going to the junction with Liverpool Road South as there’s no point in stopping at the cycle/pedestrian crossing. This is view from the crossing towards the Liverpool Road South junction – still a very narrow path at present but I will have more news soon on it:-

Of course what Maghull and Lydiate really needs alongside the A59 Northway is a safe cycle route from Switch Island through to Robins Island and Lydiate Parish Council has acknowledge this need in its draft Neighbourhood Plan.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Lydiate – More work on that Neighbourhood Plan

Yes I know it seems to go on forever, putting one together for Lydiate Civil Parish that is. And yes I’m still a skeptic of them, seeing NP’s as of little or marginal benefit only, at best.

But whatever I’m doing my bit to help put together the Lydiate one.

Our last Neighbourhood Plan meeting went into all kinds of detail but two particular areas really interested me, the lack of a cycle path on the A59/Northway through Lydiate and the poor state of the canal tow path through Lydiate.

What have these issues got to do with a Neighbourhood Plan you might ask. Well the connection is that when house building does takes place in Lydiate developers have to provide money to support local infrastructure. Presently that’s via a process known as Section 106 agreements. They may be morphing into CIL – Community Infrastructure Levy – but Sefton Council can’t seemingly make up its mind whether to make the change or not. But whichever process is used it means that the Parish Council can try to direct how up to 25% of that money is spent.

The two major areas that we have identified, via our NP process, are upgrading the tow path of the Leeds Liverpool Canal tow path through Lydiate and addressing the lack of a cycle lane alongside the A59/Northway through Lydiate.

The following 2 photos from 2014 show the canal tow path as little more than a rut in the grass alongside the canal:-

Looking north from Pilling Lane bridge along the canal

Looking south from Pilling Lane bridge along the canal.

It’s still the same now and we want it upgraded so that cyclists and pedestrians can make greater use of it. A wider hard wearing surface is required.

With regard to the cycle path along the A59/Northway, it comes to an abrupt halt at Robin’s Island. North of here there are cycle paths on either side of the dual carriageway through Aughton Civil Parish. We would like to see a safe cycle path/route coming into Lydiate. Here’s a photo of the end of the cycle path as you reach Robins Island from Aughton direction:-

A59 Cycle path becomes narrow pavement at Robins Island.

So there are a couple of our stated ambitions in the draft NP for Lydiate. Lydiate folk will get to vote on the plan, via local referendum, before it is finalised I might add.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Switch Island – Too complex and the junction with Brooms Cross Road does not work

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-42946503

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above

During my time as a Sefton Councillor I was involved in pretty much all the activities which eventually led to the building of Brooms Cross Road.

It all started with us marching through Thornton to try to get the new road project back on the agenda of Sefton Council. It had previously fallen off that agenda with the demise of what was then called the ‘Blue Route’. That former project would have seen a great deal of tree loss through Ince Woods and it fell pretty much for that reason. Here’s a couple of photos of us marching back around the turn of the century:-

Cllr. Geoff Howe and a young me on this shot marching with Thornton residents. My placard says ‘83% of Thornton residents want a relief road’.

Thornton residents marching to get the new road built.

The campaign gathered momentum and we managed to get all-party support for the new road (without damaging the woods) on the then balanced Sefton Council where no one party had a majority. Then I went, as Sefton Leader, to try to gain support from regional governmental bodies which existed at the time but are now defunct. We got that support.

I’ve read recently that some folks think that Sefton Council was asked to make a financial contribution to the project late on. In fact Sefton was always putting money into the project, indeed it was the promoter of the new road knowing full well it was going to have to put money in the pot.

The junction of the road with Switch Island has of course been the big issue especially as so many accidents have occurred there since the new road has been open and connected to an already complex junction.

Photo taken during the construction of Brooms Cross Road This is the Switch Island end of the yet to be completed road

I recall being shown a computer programme by the Highways Agency (now called Highways England) which predicted traffic flows and how they would change with the new road in place. I must admit to being sceptical at the time but the professional engineers said they had taken account of all the issues and that the plan would fly. It didn’t.

With the benefit of hindsight and the experience of watching what goes on at Switch Island my view is that the junction is simply too complex. What I mean by this is that new or irregular drivers encountering it have a bewildering array of signs and road markings to take on board. Unsurprisingly, they get things wrong and then have to swing across lanes, often without the due care required. Add into this the small minority of irresponsible regular users who expect to be able to fly through the junction at high speed (often running red lights) then you have a heady brew and accidents are always going to be on the cards.

The new lane indicator lights are innovative but how much they will actually help is yet to be seen. What I can’t get my head around is why speed/red light cameras were not been installed a long time ago. Surely dropping the vehicle approach speeds and taking the manic red light running out via such cameras would dramatically reduce the accidents, would it not?

Does Switch Island need fly-overs? Well yes it does and it has needed them for a long time now. Surely A5036/Dunningsbridge Rd docks trucks should be able to access the M58 without having to negotiate the island/junction and the same with traffic coming off the M57 wanting to travel down Brooms Cross Road.

And a final thought, beware of those promising to sort out Switch Island because with increased traffic it may only get worse, especially if no speed/red light cameras are installed.

Click on the photos to enlarge them

Switch Island & A59 – Have you seen the mess that litter chucked out of vehicle windows causes?

Litter chucked from vehicles can now be seen beside many main roads at at junctions*.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41748005

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above

I also blogged about this subject back in 2014 and here’s a link back to that posting:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/11/28/switch-island-a59-come-to-mind-drivers-who-litter-targeted/

It seems to be becoming almost a fashionable thing to do, an ‘acceptable’ way to dispose of unwanted wrappings and general junk within a vehicle. I bet most of us have seen it happen. A window winds down in front of us in a queue of traffic and some rubbish gets thrown out onto the pavement or grass verge.

I may have related this story before but a few years back I was walking along Green Lane in Thornton, here on Merseyside, and there was a queue of traffic at the traffic lights. A few yards ahead of me was a lady walking in the same direction as me. Just in front of her a car window opened and a nappy was chucked out onto the pavement. The lady picked it up and with some force threw it against the back window of the car it came from. It made quite a mess on that car and the occupants looked as surprised as I did. Direct action got a message home on that occasion I suspect.

*(This is a general illustrative shot of litter)

Maghull – The narrowest cyclepath/footway you can imagine – A59 – Northway

Cycling or indeed walking around Switch Island to go to say Aintree Village or ASDA from Maghull is a bit of a performance because you have to go around the island in an anti-clockwise direction and out of your way.

This huge vehicle junction where 3 dual carriageways, 1 single carriageway road and 2 motorways join has evolved over time rather than been planned or so it seems. It’s far from being pedestrian or cyclist friendly, indeed its a dangerous place altogether as the numerous weekly vehicle accidents prove. Highways England are you listening?

However, if you know your way around it you can just about survive walking, cycling or driving but one odd quirk of the planning of the pedestrian/cycling route is on the A59/Northway as you leave Maghull heading for Switch Island.

A cycle/pedestrian crossing was installed over both separate carriageways of the A59 some years back so that you are taken to a path alongside the northbound traffic flow. Trouble is this path is very narrow, yet it is supposed to be for pedestrians and cyclists. It is not possible for one cyclist and one pedestrian to pass each other without one standing aside.

I have raised this matter with Sefton Council and have noted that in recent weeks all kinds of spray painted makings have been placed along the path which seem to indicate that some work is going to take place. Not sure what the work is but I hope this completely inadequate path is going to be widened.

Here’s a shot of the crossing and a view towards Switch Island. The path in question runs alongside the northbound carriageway where you can see the dog walker. The narrowness of the path can also be seen:-

Click on the photo to enlarge it