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PEDAL POWER: Changes could make town centre safer for cyclists
ROAD systems are a major factor in whether people feel comfortable and safe riding a bike.
The thought of town centre traffic and having to change lanes is enormously off-putting if you’re new to cycling or not very confident.
The Guardian’s Pedal Power campaign is all about encouraging our readers out on two wheels.
We aim to offer tips and advice, inspiring stories about mid Cheshire’s cyclists, chances to get involved and we also tackle some of the issues around cycling – including those that may put people off.
This week we take a look at cycling in Northwich town centre’s one-way system.
CLEAR routes, genuine consultation and a change of speed limit would all make Northwich’s gyratory a safer place for cyclists, according to a town centre sports specialist.
Winnington man Tony Turner, a director at Rosebank Intersport, said a lot of work needs to be done to make cycling through town a safer prospect.
“I’m very much in favour of the gyratory because I think it does help the road structure out but it’s still quite confusing and I think traffic tries to move too quickly around it,” he said.
“The whole thing should be a 20mph zone.
“I was more confident with the old system because now I get the feeling it’s a racing circuit and I feel a little bit intimidated by it.
“If I was going to Winnington I would go straight across from Seafarer, all I really had to do was navigate Town Bridge.
“Now if I’m going up to Winnington when I turn left at Seafarer I don’t know what to do because I’m putting myself in the middle of lanes – you’re just vulnerable.
“The gyratory doesn’t help cyclists in any way, shape or form.”
When Cheshire West and Chester Council’s (CWAC) executive group decided to make the one-way system permanent in March, councillors said measures would be put in place for cyclists.
Clr Herbert Manley, executive member for prosperity, said the council was in talks with Sustrans about two-way cycle lanes and stop lines.
A spokesman for CWAC said: “As part of the works to make the Northwich Gyratory permanent, improved cycle facilities will be installed throughout Northwich town centre.
“Chester Way/London Road has already been completed and the second phase at the junction of Chester Way/Castle Street will begin on site in January.
“The final phase for the junctions at the Bull Ring and ‘The Seafarer’ will be constructed in the summer.
“New Toucan crossings are integral to the designs of the upgraded junctions, allowing cyclists as well as pedestrians better and safer movement in and around them, whilst maintaining the flow of traffic.
“In addition there will be several footpath conversions to shared use to allow cyclists to travel around the town off road which will be signed accordingly.
“The signing of the shared use footways will begin early next year linking these junctions and cycle racks will be installed both in and around the town centre to encourage people to use them.
“Where appropriate advanced stop lines and Trixie mirrors will be provided to further improve the safety of cyclists.”
Tony said he liked the idea of shared cycle paths as long as they were clearly marked and did not start and stop abruptly.
He said: “Shared cycle paths would be perfect for the about-town cyclist because you’ve got to feel comfortable.
“If it’s going to be shared with pedestrians and narrow, like over the bridges, you’ve got to get cyclists off their bikes and make it clear to cyclists to please dismount.
“Confusion leads to bad decisions, which can cause accidents, and if someone has a bad experience then that’s it, they’re not going to do it again.
“What we need is them feeling safe and knowing where they should be cycling.”
He added: “They need to get some cyclists’ views on it but who should they ask?
“People that are normally on bikes are usually happy in traffic but it’s the about-town cyclists and people who want to cycle instead of using public transport or the car.”
A BOOM in cycling has led to a new section for women’s cycle wear at Rosebank Intersports.
The shop, in Witton Street, has started to stock a selection of jerseys and shorts for women cyclists.
Tony Turner, one of the directors, said: “We decided to stock ladies cycle wear because of the growth in ladies that are participating in cycling.
“Ladies tend to be a little more fashion conscious, they want things to look good, fit well and they take a little bit more care.
“We’re not a bike shop but this market hasn’t generally been catered for by bike shops.
“They’ve concentrated on equipment and not had a softer area for the ladies to try things on.
“This works naturally with what we do – we have more fitness stuff, look after ladies, have nice changing rooms, ladies who serve and we’re specialists in product knowledge.”