Wigan Orrell Cycling Corridor

Having read on Twitter about the proposed £685k investment into a cycle safety corridor from Wigan town centre to the A577 at Orrell I was immediately very interested. This is a huge amount of money in cycling infrastructure terms and should be used to create something that is useful, improves safety and encourages cycling. This is an important step forwards in an area where good cycle infrastructure is difficult to find.

Anyway, onto the new cycle corridor. The proposal, which can be seen here in summary,  and here in more detail, is on first sight, a noble venture no doubt driven largely by the numerous incidents involving vehicles and cycles along the route. In the last 4 years there have been 4 serious and 13 lesser serious injuries to cyclists along the route. The council are now reporting the cycle path is completed with merely finishing touches to be applied before the path is ready for use. http://www.wigantoday.net/news/community/danger-road-gets-cycle-path-1-6585971#.U2a6x-_sIog.twitter

So I nipped along today to see how things were coming along. Now to be fair, I very rarely cycle in Wigan so I’m not hugely familiar with the cycle provision along this route before the investment but on the Wallgate to Worsley Hall section I rode today I remember a Bus lane heading out of Wigan town centre and a narrow, painted cycle lane heading in. The bus lane still remains and the new cycle lane has been built where the painted cycle lane was. To be clear, the engineers have extended the pavement along the full route into the space previously occupied by the on-road cycle lane. No space has been taken from vehicles for this provision.

The lane is clearly still under construction despite the newspaper report but I have no idea how much more construction work will take place.

Lets look at the lane itself. Here’s where it starts just after the Wigan Wallgate railway bridge.


The first problem is immediately evident. While cyclists heading into Wigan can ride into the ASL, there’s no way cyclists heading out of Wigan can access the path. I had to wait for a gap in the traffic, cross 4 lanes of traffic and pass over the central reservation to get here, something that’d be impossible in rush hour traffic. Looking the other way we can see the pavement that leads into Wigan town centre under the bridge but it’s not a cycle path and there is obviously no provision for cyclists leaving the town.



Following the path from here down past Wigan pier reveals a number of worrying implementations.

Big ramps.



Crazily dangerous indents for grids



Raised grids



Some extremely poor surfaces



You can see where the old cycle path used to be.



Still, some people like it. The people who run this car showroom for example.



The bridge in the last shot is as far as I went and as far as I could safely go as the proposed toucan crossing that will take cyclists across to the left hand side doesn’t appear to have been built. If it isn’t built the whole lane will be a complete waste of time as it will only be useful for people heading in one direction and then only if they’ve elected to brave the Worsley Hall Saddle gyration which quite frankly terrifies me in a car never mind on a bike.

Impression so far then is very poor. Even if the lane is properly surfaced and signed, the cyclist experience is now worse than before along this section at least since cyclists will need to stop at every side road as well as having to share the pavement with pedestrians.


11 thoughts on “Wigan Orrell Cycling Corridor

  1. No doubt designed by people who don’t cycle. Utterly pathetic, how on earth can anyone be proud of that load of rubbish?

  2. Good grief – this is so full of hazards it should fail a safety audit – even allowing for the fact that the raised ironwork and kerb edges do not comply with the core standards for footway and carriageway construction by being more than 3mm above the base course surface (but presumably 0-3mm when a slurry coat or similar finishing detail is laid.

  3. Third picture down (headed ‘big ramps’)…It looks as if the cycle lane there has priority over the side road – given (a) the lack of ‘give way’ markings in the cycle lane and (b) the position of the give way line for the side road*.

    Is this intentional or have they just not finished painting the markings yet?

    * though in general its pretty rare for a motorised vehicle to actually wait at the give way line rather than several feet beyond it.

    1. I think that’s the old marked cycle lane. As far as I am aware there is no intention to give priority to cycles on the path over road traffic. The original proposal does discuss speed humps to slow traffic down but nothing more.

  4. Good afternoon Jon. Thank you for your interest in the Wigan West Cycle Safe scheme. This is a major piece of cycling infrastructure and we hope it will encourage many more people to cycle into Wigan town centre.

    This area has seen several serious incidents involving cyclists in recent years and so when the funding became available we wanted to use it to improve safety for cyclists.

    The scheme is clearly still a work in progress. We’re a little disappointed you chose to judge it before construction is complete. Most of the faults you have raised are simply details that haven’t yet been finished.

    For example, all of the side road crossings will be raised for pedestrians and cyclists and the whole route will have a new, smooth surface. The crossing at Saddle Junction will be built soon and will ensure the traffic-free route is continuous around the edge of the junction and along Ormskirk Road.

    As for driving or parking on a cycle track, this is already an offence that can be enforced by the police. However, we’re proposing to ban footway parking on this and other roads so our own enforcement officers can tackle this problem too.

    The work is due to be finished in June. We hope you will return and judge the scheme when it is finished.


    Wigan Council.

    1. Hi, Thank you for taking the time to comment. I did make the point clear a number of times in my blog post that I understood the path was not yet finished but my visit was mostly driven by the referenced newspaper article that claimed the finishing touches were all that remained with the path being ready for use at the end of May. I’m afraid that sounds like a very ambitious schedule given what the path looks like now. If the newspaper has misquoted you then I would take issue with them.
      I absolutely intend to visit again once the path is completed. I want nothing more than to encourage the building and use of cycle-friendly infrastructure. If the path is as well designed as you say then I’ll be posting a glowing review and will advertise it to all the same people who have seen this blog post. I’ll accompany that with a sincere apology that I ever doubted you but at the moment the design issues seem insurmountable in the lane’s current guise.
      Might I recommend at this stage, while you finish off the path that you change the grid drops, they really are terribly dangerous and I cringe at the thought of the incidents they could cause. I’d also suggest you think about how people leaving Wigan on a bike can get onto the path in the first place at Wallgate without getting off and pushing along a narrow pavement that during rush hour will have many pedestrians on it.
      I look forward to the finished article and once again, thanks for taking the time to respond.

  5. Having read this article and the responses I’m left feeling very nervous about the kerbing around the inset grids. My initial thoughts are that the work gone into the kerb does not look like a temporary measure. I’m quite surprised that even in its current state there is no barrier to warn cyclists and pedestrians that this drop exists, let alone leaving it covering the majority of the Lane intended for cyclists. I live (in cycling terms) not far from this area and up until five years ago I cycle commuted through this area. I roll my eyes that yet again cyclists are being made to stop and use crossings as a pedestrian in order to use a second rate cycling infrastructure designed with only one thing in mind. Maintaining motor vehicle priority. This is not the attitude that will see any change in the sedentary attitude of the majority of the public who would cycle “if it were safer”. Infact, it appears that this cycle route had been design by the very people who would not consider using it in the first place. Through pressure rather than desire.

    So, As a cycle commuter who rides 5,000 miles a year on urban road networks in Greater Manchester I am more than willing to come down, point out and prove the weaknesses in these designs along with constructive alternatives. I’m sure others would do the same.

    A chance to get it right from the start?

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