Cycling and crossing Maghull’s ‘Berlin Wall’

The new (ish) cyclist unfriendly Alt Junction in Maghull

Maghull is very flat so you’d expect it to be perfect to cycle around and yet the busy A59/Northway cuts Maghull in half. I’ve always said it’s akin to the Town’s own Berlin Wall when it comes to cycling and even to some extent walking. I have of course blogged about this matter many times before and called upon Sefton Council to improve the lot of cyclists wanting to cross and cycle safely along Maghull’s great divide. Here’s a link to a previous posting of mine on this matter:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/09/03/maghull-lydiates-berlin-wall-the-bible-of-cycling-infrastructure/

I was and for that matter still am unimpressed with the new(ish) Alt junction as, in my opinion, it’s not cyclist-friendly. Expecting cyclists to dismount and then follow the same circuitous route that pedestrians have been landed with at this junction is not encouraging folks to leave their cars behind, in fact, it probably has just the opposite effect!

So, why do I return to this subject now? Well, improvements are afoot as shared-space cycle/pedestrian routes are being constructed on either side of the A59 between the Town Hall/Hall Lane and Damfield Lane junctions. The Damfield Lane/A59 junction, which has a poor accident record, is also being turned into a traffic-lighted one.

So the lot of cyclists is being improved although clearly, an A59 safe cycle route needs to pass through all of Maghull and indeed Lydiate to reach the cycle tracks along the A59 to the north of Robins Island in West Lancs. But don’t be churlish Robertson progress is being made which should be welcomed, and I do indeed welcome the progress.

Here are some shots of the work presently being undertaken at Damfield Lane and along the A59 to the Hall Lane junction:-

Looking towards the Town Hall/Hall Lane junction with the new and widened shared space path.

Elevated view of new Damfield Lane junction layout.

Damfield Lane junction looking north

It will be interesting to see how cyclist-friendly the Damfield Lane junction is when works are completed because from my perspective cyclists should not have to dismount to travel through a junction as seems to be the highway engineer’s want at the Alt junction. Junctions should be designed so that cyclists can go through them safely whilst pedalling not via having to walk.

I’m sure there’ll be much more to comment on as our presently very limited local cycling network is painfully slowly expanded.

£175m (or even £2b) sounds a lot for cycling & walking BUT it’s not much really

To start off this posting please have a read of the article linked below from The Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport as it sums up where government thinking is seemingly heading quite well:-

ciltuk.org.uk/News/Latest-News/ArtMID/6887/ArticleID/32879/163175-million-more-for-cycling-and-walking-as-research-shows-public-support?gator_td=%2beI1zBnIYuYG7%2bOgusqjWGu5ZZ3%2bV4keUCmq3%2feVfXUBQ1EUrl6iRYVbt8AMDZa8BuPYg2Qec9tbYFzDd%2bowb%2fmeXmxqN51hO%2bWqAMtRbYK5EFnIW%2bJZy%2b9Bbs2rbZFBkIYukuNJZwTa74yXG%2fFBsa%2bjmt1QPIrPybd7EcLO7FMQgicqJmz9PJ9zZ1EWozrzCiROVULmgTH4DSsQ8w1KBg%3d%3d

News that government is to invest more in cycling and walking has to be welcome but let’s be honest an extra £175M spread across the country is not going to produce much at all; it will address the tip of a very big and long under-invested in iceberg at best.

But stop grumbling Robertson and come up with ways it could best be spent in Sefton and West Lancashire where you do most of your cycling. Well my first and most important advice to highway officers at Sefton Borough and Lancashire County Council’s is DON’T use what little money you get from this fund to try to do big projects. If you do a small area will get a big improvement but most cyclists won’t benefit at all. Please, please look at the myriad of small things you can do to make cycling safer and try to connect up obvious places which real cyclists want to get to and from. Presently the cycle network, other than in places like York, is a hotch- potch of bits and bobs all over the place which rarely connect with anywhere at all.

Safe cycling routes to schools is an obvious one to tackle but so are safe routes to railway stations, shopping centres, museums, leisure centres etc. Oh and don’t forget that secure cycle storage facilities are required too at each destination.

This is of course a subject I’ve banged on about before – see links below:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/09/03/maghull-lydiates-berlin-wall-the-bible-of-cycling-infrastructure/

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2020/05/03/maghull-lydiate-melling-simple-cycling-fixes-for-sefton-council-to-undertake/

And I noticed another easy fix for Sefton Council only today on Maghull’s Liverpool Road North (the section with a service road from the Westway to Green Lane junctions) where a dropped kerb outside Cornmill Lodge would enable northbound cyclists to access safer cycling on that service road. Obviously suitable bollards would be required to stop vehicles following suit!

Yes of course the rather grandiose safe cycling project to connect up Maghull with Kirkby is welcome but it’s one hell of a big investment for not a huge benefit for the majority of local cyclists. And that’s my point here; get the small easy fixes out of the way first because they will make a big difference to safe cycling. Oh and make sure that all projects that go through highways departments are scrutinised by cyclists before they are approved or you end up creating new highway infrastructure that all but excludes cyclists like the terrible new Alt Junction on the A59 in Maghull.

Walking and cycling destinations from Rimrose Valley County Park Country Park.

By the way the reference to Councils having to consult (see 1st linked article above) on how the money is spent is both welcome and interesting as my understanding is that with the money released by government during Lockdown 1 there was an instruction from government to benefiting councils not to consult!

With thanks to Mike Perkins for the lead to this posting

Cycling – What’s legal, what’s not/What’s advisable, whats not

With so many people cycling during our present health lockdown even I as a regular/daily cyclist for a few years now have been checking what cyclists legally can and can’t do on our roads. Whilst Googling around on the subject I came across this very recent Chronicle newspaper article which I thought was both well written and informative:-

www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/cyclists-rules-roads-helmet-pavement-12815392

One thing some cyclists can easily forget or even deliberately disregard is that pedestrians are the most import thing on our roads, not cyclists or indeed vehicles. The other thing about some cyclists is that they don’t have bells on their bikes. How on earth are they to warn pedestrians, whom they are coming up on from behind, that they are there without a bell? I know some cyclists will think they are not cool with a bell on their bike but I can’t get my head around that rather daft excuse.

Also, because I’m a cyclist I find that non-cyclists seem to think I should be able to explain the deficiencies of other cyclists as if we are some kind of Borg Collective! (Star Trek fans will get this). Questions I’ve been asked:-

* Why don’t you cyclists use cycle lanes/tracks and keep off the road? (I do when they are available)
* Why don’t you cyclists have a bell on your bikes (I do)?
* Why don’t you cyclists carry insurance (I do), we vehicle drivers have to so you should too.
* Why don’t you stick to cycling outside of rush hours, you get in the way. (Do I really have to answer this?)

I could go on but you get my drift. Firstly, I am no more responsible for the behaviour of other cyclists than one vehicle driver is for another. Why on earth do some non-cyclists think cyclists are?

Cycle paths often end in the wrong/dangerous places as this one does.

And another thing, bad cyclists will invariably be bad drivers too. Most cyclists are also drivers of vehicles you know.

But what has really struck me in recent times is that cycling, outside of those who do it, seems to be quite unpopular. It’s as though some folks think it should be banned. In a bizarre and dangerous incident a while back a van driver overtook me just before a junction which I had signalled to turn left at. He then cut straight in front of me and turned left into the same road and slammed his brakes on. A more deliberate act of intimidation aimed at me I have never seen whilst cycling. Not only that he jumped out and told me to get off the road! I assume he wanted me to cycle illegally on the pavement (see the newspaper article linked above)? *

Yes I too get upset when I see adults riding bikes on pavements which have not been designated for cycling; it’s wrong and in my locality Merseyside or Lancashire Police should be challenging cyclists who do it. And yes I also deplore cyclists jumping red lights; they need catching a fining just like vehicle drivers who do it.**

I find cycling fun and it keeps me fit. What’s more it’s an environmentally friendly way of getting from A to B over short to medium distances. I try not to be a pain in the a**e to other road users and I hope the recent uptake in cycling will make bike riding a normal everyday thing which no longer requires explanation, apology or accusations.

* By the way does anyone have any stats from Merseyside and Lancashire for fines handed out for cycling on pavements? If you’ve read the linked article above you’ll have noted that between 2012/13 and 2017/18 only two people paid fines for cycling on pavements in the Northumbria Police area.

** Although in defence of the odd bit of pavement riding I can think of two places in my locality were cycle tracks start/end in daft/unsafe places all but forcing cyclists to use a short section of pavement.

Are cyclists really the scourge of our streets? Of course not, the Ch5 show was just prejudice and entertainment

A cyclists on the towpath of the Leeds Liverpool Canal in Aintree Village

The Channel 5 entertainment show of last night was all about the evil of cyclists – yes that’s right the people who have gone carbon neutral to try to help save the planet and who generally are fitter and healthier than many vehicle drivers too I bet.

Here’s a take on the programme from The Guardian web site by Rebecca Nicholson :-

www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/jul/09/cyclists-scourge-of-the-streets-review-a-road-rage-rant-dressed-in-lycra

That some cyclists ride in stupid and irresponsible ways is a given; why they probably drive vehicles with the same lack of respect for all around them too. And yes I grumble about grown adults riding on pavements, jumping red lights and not stopping at Zebra crossings as well. Only the other night – it was 10.15pm – in Maghull and I was sat at a set of traffic lights in my car (you see cyclists are drivers too) on the dual carriageway A59 when a youngish chap wearing a black T shirt and shorts rode his bike past me down the wrong carriageway. A deliberate attention seeking act no doubt. But as I say drivers of vehicles can be just as bad.

Me in my cycling gear

We used to be a nation of cyclists but after World War 2 we fell out of love with cycling and head over heels in love with driving cars. This shift, which has led to air pollution that is killing us and huge obesity problems is now on the turn again. You could say that what comes around goes around as cycling is once again becoming a mass participation mode of transport and a way to get and stay fit.

I’ve been a regular cyclist now for around 4 years having spent a good 30+ years when I hardly ever peddled at all. I can’t understand why I stopped cycling as I love it and feel much better both mentally and physically for getting back in the saddle. I mostly cycle for enjoymnet and fitness although at times I find my bike can get me into places where car parking is hard to find to do a bit of shopping.

Yes I have encounters with vehicles and I’ve blogged about them previously; there are some very bad drivers out there. But the real problem is the lack of cycling infrastructure, another issue I have commented on before – cycle lanes that finish in the oddest and sometimes the most dangerous of places, the lack of safe cycling routes from logical point to point places and even such simple things as no dropped kerbs such as right outside the brand new Maghull North Station. I could go on but you get my drift……

As a young lad living in Rochdale between the ages of 6 and 10 in the 1960’s I cycled all over the place and as a mature chap in his 60’s I’m now doing the same thing. Cycling, like modern tramway systems in urban areas is the future of sustainable transportation.

A cyclist’s life can be a trying one!

Cycling is now pretty much mainstream activity for commuting, leisure, fitness etc. and with us staring down the barrel of environmental disaster called climate change it is set to become an activity that the vast majority of us are going to have to engage with because it’s carbon neutral.

But unlike places like Holland our cycle networks are at best poor or absolutely bloody inadequate would probably be a better description. Of course I’ve highlighted such problems on this blog site previously and I’ve also commented on the tussle between vehicle drivers and cyclists too. On this latter subject just try to get your head around this:-

twitter.com/buejcoll/status/1125118323048505345

Frankly the ‘accident’ looks more like premeditated attempted murder to me and how the cyclist survived is close to miraculous. One can only hope the car driver is permanently off the road.

Bad drivers make bad cyclists in my experience, if they jump red lights when driving they are highly likely to do the same when riding. I know some drivers get upset with cyclists because they slow them down, some will even overtake cyclists far too closely and dangerously in frustration. They curse the cyclist when often they are actually the problem but as I say a poor cyclist is probably a poor driver too.

And returning to safe cycle routes, there’s one on Gorsey Lane in Netherton and here’s a photo of it together with a misleading sign:-

I’m actually stood with my bike at what seems to be the end of the Bus/Taxi/cycle lane but in reality the cycle lane continues as part of a widened shared pavement space with pedestrians, so why does the sign say end of cycle route Sefton Council?

Thanks to CJ for the lead to this posting.

Stop Press:- Only 30 minutes after posting this I was out on my bike (8.50am) and at the junction of Liverpool Road North and Granville Ave in Maghull a white van all but knocked me off the road! The driver overtook me on the junction and then pulled in half on the pavement right in front of me. How I managed to stop I don’t know. When I questioned him his response was to tell me to ‘get off the road’. I realised things could get out of hand so left it to return to the row of shops he seemed to be delivering to later. Sadly, having called at all the shops in the row (10am) I’ve not been able to identify his company. If only I’d got his registration number, this was clearly a dangerous driving Police matter in my opinion but he’s got away with it.

Walking and cycling in the Liverpool City Region (LCR)

Via my good friend Sefton Councillor John Dodd I have become aware of a web site called Arrive Happy in the past few days:- Here it is via the link below:-

www.arrivehappy.org/our-cycling-and-walking-masterplan

As I understand things 31 walking/cycling routes were previously identified across the City Region/Merseyside and now 9 of them are to be progressed towards a funding bid.

Liverpool City Region Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) – I’m told that the LCR Transport Partnership, have identified, using the evidence collected, a total of 31 potential cycling and walking corridors. The previously agreed and approved methodology used for the Active Travel prioritisation process has identified 9 corridors to be developed in more detail with a view to submitting a bid for Transforming Cities Fund funding.

I understand that these 9 corridors will form the basis of the next phase of the LCWIP and will be subject to formal engagement with stakeholders across the LCR which started on the 17th December with an engagement meeting with key stakeholders in the morning and the launch of an online survey into cycling and walking in the city region – www.arrivehappy.org/our-cycling-and-walking-masterplan

The two diagrams below show firstly the 31 identified potential corridors and then the 9 to be taken forward for more detailed design work. More detail will be shared, I understand, as the plan develops.

BUT if you live in Sefton Borough

Now I don’t know about you but if you live in Sefton Borough north of Bootle then there’s little to cheer about as no routes have made it into the 9 to be taken forward! I hold no information as to why this is the case although above you will see reference to an ‘approved methodology’ for choosing the routes to take forward. However, to say the least, I’m at best disappointed. On the ’31 map’ Maghull, despite being a large community, does not even get a mention!

Note:- Click on the two graphics above to enlarge them