It’s now finished. How do I know it’s finished? Well all the barriers have gone and there’s a car parked on it.
Brilliant! That’s how you know a cycle lane is open, some twat parks their car on it.
Apart from that it’s exactly as shit as anticipated. Bumpy as hell, covered in loose gravel, loss of priority at every junction. It’s awful. Oh, it’s quite popular, even in the rain today it had plenty of walkers, runners and cyclists on it. Is it a success based on that? Not really. This should be about encouraging people to stop driving into work, to take an alternative. And this mess won’t do that.
Years in the planning, more years in the building but now it’s here! The Leigh guided buzway that goes from Leigh, to Manchester!!!! !!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is a big deal in Leigh, I’ll explain why shortly. I’ll also explain some other things that some of you are already trying to tell me about.
(If you don’t want to read the preamble, scroll down to where I laugh a lot in capitals)
Guided busways are, not very common. There could be a number of reasons for this but my favourite is, they’re a load of shit. It’s poor use of the space, they’re often not really guided as they invariably cross roads or use the road for a bit, or a lot. The Leigh to Manchester one uses the road a lot. The planners will tell you this is pure genius and this is exactly why the Leigh Buzway is brilliant. It can use the road, *and* the buzway. It’s also the very same reason, why it’s a load of shit.
OK? It’s like an episode of soap.
Well, it’s up North. North West. Near Wigan. No? Warrington? /Sigh. Have you heard of Manchester? And Liverpool? Yes, where the Beatles come from. That’s it. Well Leigh is in between those two, but nearer to Manchester. Yes, where the Smiths are from.
What’s special about Leigh? Nothing really, it’s a bit of a dump. Oh, I live there if that counts. Actually I live in one of the posh bits, if there is one. Lake just bottom left of the word ‘Leigh’, near there. Not that you care. Andy Burnham is our MP. I think that’s it.
Oh, there is something special about Leigh. It’s one of the largest towns in the UK without a train station. Now that is important. You see, Leigh, doesn’t really have anything for people to do. It’s got small businesses and stuff, sure. It’s got a run down town centre and loads of pounds shops but real, big employment? Nah. So where do people in Leigh work then? Well the small number that do have jobs tend to work in Wigan, Warrington, Bolton or Manchester. I work in Warrington, not that you care. Quite a nice ride there though.
Anyway, eventually arriving at my point, if you want to live in Leigh and work in Manchester, our nearest city, then you can drive there….ummm that’s about it. Oh you could get the bus, or drive up to Daisy Hill or Atherton and get the train from there (get there early though or you’ll have to wait until after rush hour to be able to fit on). Or you could cycle. Nah I’m only kidding, people from Leigh don’t ride bikes. Everyone drives there.
There’s not many roads from Leigh to Manchester. Two, by my count. The East Lancs, or the M602. What do you reckon these roads are like in the morning and evening?
That’s right, they are completely and utterly chocked full to the gills. Have been for years, lots of years. I worked in Manchester in the 1990’s and they were solid then. (This is an important point, you’ll see).
So the planners decided to build a buzway. Is that annoying you yet? Try living in Leigh. That’s how they say it. Buz. I’ll stop doing it now. So they decided to build a guided busway. Along the old railway line route. Not another railway. A guided busway. Not a tram system (of which Manchester has an large, excellent and efficient example), a guided busway. Why? I don’t know. I’m told it’s lack of capacity once it hits Manchester which is odd because they built the tram system out to Oldham and Altrincham quite happily. The cynic in me would suggest there’s some political dealings going on there but anyway, we have finally reached what this blog is about. The busway, has a cycle path built alongside it. An actual, segregated cyclepath. Like they have in that there London.
Now during the building of the busway, lots of people complained. They said the building work was making their drive into work really long.
IT TAKES 2 HOURS TO DRIVE TEN MILES BECAUSE OF ALL THE CHUFFING TRAFFIC YOU NUMBSKULLS!!!!! IT HAS DONE FOR TWENTY FREAKING YEARS!!!!
But blame the busway. It was fine before, that’s why it’s being built, because the roads are so empty. Not you, driving. Nope. Or those cyclists. Bastards. Look at them, riding past on that…path. There is actually a cycle path all the way from Liverpool to Manchester you know. You can get from Liverpool, lets say Anfield, all the way to lets say Salford, on a segregated, dedicated, cyclepath. Is that the longest in Britain? Maybe, someone tell me. It’s a load of shit by the way . you’ll be sat at some junctions until midnight waiting for the traffic to die down. It crosses 6 motorway slip roads. SIX! Do you think any of these crossings, have facilities for cyclists to cross safely? (Say no). Do you think these sliproads are impossible to cross at any time of the day without dying? (Say yes). Yeah, it’s brilliant.
Want to see it? You’re in luck, the Busway opened yesterday. And you are about to be taken on an adventure. The Leigh Guided busway adventure.
I decided to examine things on the way home so I rode up the East Lancs to where the busway joins the East Lancs and runs in a bus lane and then rode down the cyclepath along the busway back towards Leigh. Or did I? Of course I didn’t.
Here’s the start of the busway, just to the left. You can see the standard invitation to cyclists ‘GET OFF YOUR BIKE NOW’. We’re so good at cycle infrastructure in this country, it makes my heart swell with pride.
Ignoring this I continue. Ooh, a lovely station.
Barely able to hold my excitement, I can’t wait to get onto the cyclepath. 70 million this has all cost so the cyclepath will be absolute pristine. Won’t it? I’m being sarcastic by the way, it’ll be a load of shit because this is Britain.
Here’s what the surface is like. Grid for scale. It can’t be finished though, it’s an inch deep in gravel. Very hard work. We’ll return to that point shortly.
I continue. Here’s a crossing. I have to press the green man to cross.
It’s becoming clear that the busway, is not really open at all. Lots of railings around, the cycleway cannot be even close to finished yet and their piles of dirt and stones everywh…OOH OOH OOOH, A BUS IS COMING!!!! HELLO MR BUS DRIVER, HAPPY TO DO YOUR BUS DRIVING JOB!! HELLLO!!!!!
Oh, he didn’t wave. Ho hum. On I ride through the stream of gravel. It’s wet and very, very draggy. It can’t be finished….aaah.
End of the road for me. Or rather, the start of the road. I try and follow the busway the rest of the way to Leigh but while I do keep crossing it, the cyclepath is closed at each crossing. They’ve got a lot to do and I’m not sure if this loose gravel is the completed cyclepath or still waiting for tarmac. This but suggests they’re tarmacing it all. Dunno.
So if you’re local, or you’re not local and were planning to travel for hours to get to see the new cycleway, don’t bother. They’ll not announce when the cycleway is finished in the same way they haven’t said it’s closed because cyclists don’t matter. I’ll keep an eye on it and if you keep hitting refresh on this page for the next six months I’ll update it to reveal the cyclepath in all it’s glory.
Of course, if you’re still waiting for me to do the same thing when I looked at the Wigan Orrell cycle corridor from two years ago, I haven’t forgotten, they just haven’t finished it yet. Or perhaps they think they have, dunno.