The Lune Millenium Path is due to be closed for a year from July/August 2019 to allow a Flood Wall to be built to protect businesses on Caton Road.

Link to Atkins Road Safety Audit

Link to Exceptions Report

DYNAMO’S COMMENTS ON THE CATON ROAD DIVERSION
Following close scrutiny of Atkins’s plans for an alternative Cycle and Footway on Caton
Road as a long-term diversion for the closure of the Millennium Path for 18 months or more, and a three-and-a-half-hour site inspection based on those plans, Dynamo makes the following observations.
The plan does not provide a safe route even for experienced cyclists let alone the
schoolchildren who commute daily to schools in Lancaster nor less experienced adult
cyclists. It is therefore in contravention of its duty on two counts,
Firstly it was agreed at Lancaster City Councll meeting of 12/11/18 that a safe alternative
route for cyclists would be provided prior to construction of the Flood Wall.
Secondly, parents of commuting schoolchildren have already said they will not allow their
children to use any alternative cycle route on Caton Road that involves crossing so many
exposed junctions and has so many solid obstacles on a path that is very narrow in parts.
Furthermore there is no school bus service for these children nor is there any evening bus
for anyone from Lancaster to Halton. Therefore the alternative route plan is in breach of the Council’s duty under the Equality and Human Rights Act. Dynamo will now describe in
more detail the hazards and risks that the Atkins’ plan fails to address. These make this an unacceptable alternative. They are as follows:
1. Junctions
Between Skerton Bridge and the Holiday Inn, a cyclist has to cross 13 junctions. Therefore, in contrast to Atkins’s plans, Dynamo believes that cyclists and pedestrians should have priority at all junctions. After all, for well over a year cyclists and walkers will be losing a direct, protected and convenient route and – in Atkins’s plan – simply shoved onto a pavement beside a busy main road.
The first junction the cyclist has to deal with is Ladies Walk. Given that the current flow of
cycle and foot traffic far exceeds motorised traffic in and out of Ladies Walk, then priority
should go to cyclists and pedestrians. So a give-way sign should appear at the entrance to
Ladies Walk. Indeed Atkins gives priority at all junctions even small private car parks,
regardless of traffic flow ratios, to motorised vehicles cars.
After the rider crosses Caton Road via the new Toucan, the first junction he/she faces, is the very long double junction of Langdale Road and Langdale Place. These junctions are
rounded to allow buses to use them, and this encourages motorised traffic to enter or exit at speed. Due to the size of buses it is difficult to tighten or square off these junctions to make them less dangerous. The length of these double junctions leaves a cyclist exposed and so vulnerable to being hit by a vehicle. At the very least there needs to be a stop or give way signs at both roads to slow down, or better make drivers stop before entering or exiting Caton Road. Even with this safety feature, the junction remains, because of its length, very risky. A second, long rounded pair of junctions has to be dealt with where the northern end of Langdale Road exits the Newton Estate for Caton Road. The risk is exacerbated by a very steep camber for cyclists to negotiate, and a second junction with a cycle path that runs down off the canal.
Northwards beyond this junction the 3.5-metre wide path is cluttered with hard obstacles,
such as lampposts, telegraph poles and bus shelters. At one point opposite Standtast there is a line across the pavement of three posts: a lamp post, a telegraph post and a signage pole. How would motorists react if overnight these three obstacles suddenly appeared in  their lane? Quite. So why should such obstacles be any less unacceptable for cyclists?
These obstacles need to be relocated.
The pavement surface along this stretch is also in a bad condition where the secretions from trees make the pavement slippery. Branches would need to be lopped and the surface scrubbed. You certainly wouldn’t expect vehicles to drive on a skid pad, why should cyclists? Since there will be significantly more cyclists and pedestrians on Caton Road for over a year, all these surfaces need to be well-maintained.
Opposite Lansil Way the rider has to negotiate the junction of the Factory Shop private car
park. A give way or stop sign needs to be installed to prevent drivers colliding with
cyclists.
Further north on the pavement, opposite Diamond Resorts cyclists are expected to squeeze between a bus shelter and a lamp post – a tight squeeze which is almost impossible to negotiate with wide panniers. The danger is made worse by two pedestrian protection barriers of dull grey metal which are very difficult for a cyclist to see, even in day light.
These need repositioning safely.
Having crossed Caton Road via the upgraded Toucan the rider is faced with more lamp
posts in the middle of the pavements. As well as being physical hazards there is the added
risk that on a shared, two-way cycle-footway now shrunk to only 2.8 metres and soon to
shrink to only 2 metres, riders might be forced on to the road edge of the pavement. This
puts them at serious risk of being hit on the back of the head by wing mirrors of lorries or
other parts of the lorry’s load that is wider than the lorry itself. Cyclist have been killed and seriously injured by this type of blow.
Continuing northwards just before the aqueduct the cyclist has to deal with another double junction from Dennison’s. Again stop signs need to be installed on Dennison’s side.
Just after these junctions, but before the aqueduct, a cycle path heads west parallel to the
aqueduct and this joins the cycle path that descends from the aqueduct. Atkins plans show this area being closed during construction. It is vital that this link between Caton Road and the canal towpath is kept open during construction. This link would allow cyclists to avoid the dangers of Caton Rd, at least between the aqueduct and Skerton Bridge, by picking up the towpath in the centre of Lancaster.
Once under the aqueduct there is a junction with a Council controlled car park where stop
signs need installing. Next the rider must deal with the entrance and exit from McDonalds.
This is an extremely busy junction throughout the day, with cars often swinging in and out
wildly. The angles of the junction need to be squared-off to discourage this, and a stop sign erecting on the McDonald side
The next junction at the entrance to Kidds needs its angles squaring off because currently
they allow vehicles to sweep in and out quickly. Priority also needs reversing. A further
hazard is the reduction of visibility for cyclists heading towards the aqueduct by a large billboard that needs to be removed.
There is a little used junction just before Manin Way and a second one on the north side of
Manin Way. The latter gives access and egress to the electricity substation and the Holiday
Inn staff car park. This has enough traffic to justify a stop sign on the Lune side. Manin Way junction is controlled with traffic lights.
Once again the thirteenth, and final junction into the Holiday Inn needs its entrance and exit angles squaring off and priority reversing.
2. Toucans
To reduce the amount of time a cyclist must stop and wait on his/her journey, the timing
settings on the Toucans need to be made in his/her favour, as is the case at the northern
end of Morecambe Promenade rather than the very long waits on the Lancaster gyratory.
3. Usage
It should be kept in mind that this diversion will replace a busy commuter route – one that is currently direct, protected and suitable for all ages. There will inevitably be a drop in the number of leisure cyclists and pedestrians once the path closes and cycling between
Lancaster and Halton loses its charm and simplicity, but a significant number of people
HAVE NO CHOICE but to cycle this route. At present very few people use the pavements
for the full length of Caton Road, either on foot or on a bicycle. After the path closure,
however, this may become a very busy pavement. Atkins’s plan should therefore be suitable for the significant increase in the number of cyclists on Caton Road; in our view, it does not meet this criterion.
Conclusion
For the above reasons Atkins’s plan is unacceptable.
We all recognise that Caton Road is extremely unsuitable for cyclists and pedestrians. Not
only is it highly polluted but it is extremely dangerous. Recently there was a head on
collision between a coach and a motor car, so closing the carriageway for many weeks. It is almost impossible to mitigate these dangers to cyclists without investing a lot of money
redesigning junctions and reclaiming carriageway from cars to build protected, two-way cycle lanes. Scrutinizing Atkins’s plan it is clear that there is no intention to do this. Instead what they have produced is a low budget plan that, apart from a new Toucan, amounts to not much than repainting a few junction lines. You cannot have safety for vulnerable road users without funding good quality schemes, rather than this cheap and casual scheme, which if implemented would provide little prospect of safety.
A final thought. Would those councillors who voted through this scheme let their children
ride along Caton Road on February morning, in the rush hour when the surfaces are wet, the glare from headlights is blinding and spray is arcing up from the lorry wheels passing at all speeds and only a foot or so from your child and her bike? Indeed would councillors
themselves risk it? Why should you demand that cyclists who have no other means of
transport do it?
24 March 2019
Dynamo (Lancaster & District Cycle Campaign)

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Kevin Frea is a Grandparent, Politician, Human Ecologist, Community Energy Practitioner and former Special Needs Teacher.