The crowd was large and in good spirits, it managed to not really rain. On the way back into the city I came along Edge Lane a route I haven't really been along since its major redevelopment a couple of years ago.
It was always a bit of a nightmare in a car being as it is the major route to the city from the M62 in the east. So it was decided to redevelop the area which meant enforced purchases of houses on the route and widening of roads.
The results, it seems are not good. You can view it for yourself on Streetview here...
Edge Lane is mostly a two and three lane dual carriageway bordered by a mixture of residential, retail and commercial buildings. There used to be a lot more residential but they decided to knock them all down. It has some relatively broad pavements and a central reservation, each lane is more than wide enough to accommodate an HGV.
The first section is mostly residential and three lanes wide, it incorporates an enormous grassy central reservation that serves no useful purpose. Clearly at this point the central reservation could have been removed, this would have had the dual effect of pushing the noisy, heavy traffic away from the houses and allowing a cycle lane to be built between road and pavement.
The next section is three and four lane road alongside some retail areas culminating in a large junction with no provision for cyclists.
Carry on past this junction and we have more two and three lane roads with enormous pavements but nothing for cyclists.
This remains the situation for a while, past the retail park and then we reach Quinn's bike shop at this point we begin to see the first signs of civilisation, an on pavement cycle track and it's rather smooth, of course it gives way to side roads, but then this is England, WTF do you expect?
Though even this eventually gives up, as though the designer ran out of ink in his pen, the track simply stops
|Notice the No Cycles sign in the background|
So what could be the reason that I am now either forced to dismount or to fight it out with the HGVs on the road? Perhaps we've run out of a space for this luxurious cycle lane?
Nope, that ain't it. The answer appears to be the brake lights, they indicate that we are approaching a junction, and the one thing British designers of cycle paths cannot deal with is junctions. If you have an arrow straight road, they are fine, they can stick a cycle lane next to it no problem at all, when you come to a point where you might actually need a bit of help from them, they wash their hands of you.
The junction in question at the ironically named Liverpool Innovation Park, God forbid they could innovate some cycling infrastructure in this vast space.
Nope, putting in cycling infrastructure requires two things;
- responsibility, someone would have to take responsibility for getting cyclists through the junction safely, if they put in infrastructure and someone dies, then the person who put it in gets the blame, if they don't put any in then responsibility remains firmly with the cyclist for getting through the junction safely. Hence why so many cycle lanes end 10 metres before a junction.
- Inconveniencing motorists, what? and lose votes, forget it.
As we continue things remain quite familiar, enormously wide lanes and no provision for cyclists.
We reach the top of the hill and it is much the same, enormous amounts of space and no provision.
This redevelopment cost the taxpayers £65m that's a quid for everyone in the country. I just wonder how it could possibly have been built in the 21st century without anyone stopping and thinking 'Perhaps we could use some of this space for a cycle lane?"
One only has to read the comments from local officials at the opening ceremony to see how it could have happened...
The newly-elected Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, said: “Every major city needs to have really good arterial road links and these improvements are something that Liverpool people – and in particular the business community - have been requesting for decades. It’s fantastic that it’s now become a reality.
“Edge Lane is Liverpool’s front door, and the first thing many people see when coming into the city – so it’s important it looks good. For many years this wasn’t the case, but now, thanks to this project, we have a gateway into the city that we can be proud of.
“The completion of this scheme is a major landmark for the city, and forms part of our wider plans to transform the area with a major regeneration scheme which will deliver new homes, boost business and create thousands of jobs.”
Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport, Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, said: “I’m delighted that the Minister is coming to Liverpool to see the completion of this vital scheme for our city. These works have brought about huge improvements to Edge Lane and will benefit motorists for many years to come.
“Edge Lane is the most important route into the city centre as well as the city’s link to the M62, and this work has created a safer, more attractive and less congested route into the heart of the city. The completion of this final section of highway improvements marks the end of a journey which began at Edge Lane Drive in 2006.
They barely even attempt a facade of pretending it is good for the locals. It's about business, it's about motorists and it's about looking good. What the locals get is effectively an urban motorway through the middle of what remains of their community.
I should also point out that this development was designed in the mid '00s under a Labour government and a Liberal Democrat council. Same shit, different name.
What I'd like to see happen is for the Honourable Mr Baker to turn up at one of these events and then simply refuse to officially open it because without cycle lanes a £65m development is an abomination, a misuse of central government funds, unfinished and unfit for purpose.