"It will be as user friendly as it can be within constraints" - this was Gary Bowker's summing up of the multi-use path temporary diversion along Caton Road while a flood wall is built from the Holiday Inn into Lancaster. Gary is the City Council Project Engineer managing the flood defence project and the temporary cycle route and he, and Richard Walsh (Project Manager from the contractor VBA jv Ltd), met Kevin Frea (City Councillor and Cabinet member) and myself today, 25th June to talk about the route. Kevin asked if the works could be staged to maintain as much of the existing path for as long as possible. But we heard that doing this would extend the project work and increase the cost. The diversion is not cheap (around £300K) and its cost nearly undermined the whole project which is attracting £3.85M of EU money and £4.5M through the Environment Agency. Already the project as approved by the City Council planning committee in November 2018 has been delayed and the current estimate of when the temporary diversion will be completed and opened is mid-November 2019.
Cyclists and walkers will not welcome the route along the pavements of Caton Road but it is what we are going to have and the Council are determined to make the best of what is far from an ideal temporary substitute for the much loved riverside path. It won't be good for leisure riding or for children and dogs being able to run free. But it will be cyclable and walkable and will not be on a main road. It will however cross the A589 Caton Road at two points on Toucan crossings (pedestrian + cyclists) to make the best use of some wide pavements. Lampposts (approx. 22 of them!) will be moved back, two bus shelters will be removed, signs will be raised and moved and new markings will indicate that cyclists have right of way at all but one junction. That one junction is the heavily used entrance and exit to McDonalds. Kevin suggested that traffic lights here would be appropriate - and Gary agreed to have a think about that one. In the one section where there is currently no pavement on the west side a new pavement for multi-use will be built and one particularly wide junction will be reformed to reduce the exposure to cyclists who are crossing it. It is possible that the temporary route will be made permanent when the Luneside path is reopened - and it would improve some cycling and walking links in the north of the City. The temporary route will be safe if not as fast and relaxed as the permanent path but it will be a useable route in and out of Lancaster to the north.
Gary plans to submit a final set of drawings to the City Council Planning Department in July/August - we hope these will be available on the Planning Department's web site. Minor variations within the technical and financial constraints will be possible up to the beginning of construction of the temporary route in September 2019. Watch this space!
Green City Councillor for Scotforth West Ward