Metrolink Trafford Park Line – March 2020 (Part 2)

Part 2 of an in-depth review of the Metrolink Trafford Park Line, looking at the section between Sir Alex Ferguson Way to Warren Bruce Road.

Back to part 1 – Introduction | Next to part 3 – Village Way to Barton Dock Road

Sir Alex Ferguson Way

The changes on Sir Alex Ferguson Way start at the junction with Wharfside Way. It’s now no longer possible for motor vehicles to cross to and from Sir Matt Busby Way, which makes sense, since Sir Matt Busby Way is not a through route any more.

Very odd alignment of ramps, why couldn’t this just have been a continuous cycle route?

It’s still possible to cross on bike, though the arrangement is a little odd. Coming from Sir Matt Busby Way, there’s a ramp up from the road, which leads you to a large shared use area. There’s then a ramp down to Sir Alex Ferguson Way, which doesn’t line up.

This shared use area is often blocked with parked cars on match days. Now it has been extended to cover a greater area, I’d imagine it will be an even bigger issue. There’s no physical barriers to stop people driving onto the area and we see very little in the way of enforcement, so expect to have to navigate around parked cars on match days.

Something we raised once drawings became available was the way those cycling onto Sir Alex Ferguson Way have to cross in front of the slip road coming from Wharfside Way, while merging with the cycle lane. This looked potentially dangerous in the drawings and is no better in real life. It’s not helped by the angles, which make it difficult to see if it’s safe to go with stopping completely.

Merging with the cycle lane while crossing the slip road from Wharfside Way, this is not good

Leaving the junction towards Trafford Wharf Road, the protected cycleways have been removed and replaced with advisory cycle lanes to make way for wider footways. While the cycleways were far from perfect, they were at least protected, painted lanes are not cycling infrastructure. This is really disappointing. There’s no obvious reason for this, other than to cut costs.

Protected cycleways replaced with advisory painted lanes

Reaching the turning at Trafford Wharf Road, the cycle lane ends and bikes are directed up ramps onto the shared use path, just at the point of the newly installed toucan crossing. This is a confusing mess, which will lead to conflict between people walking and cycling.

Trafford Wharf Road

Turning left onto Trafford Wharf Road from Sir Alex Ferguson Way, the new shared use path ends and you continue onto the existing protected cycleway. This hasn’t been improved in any way, so there’s no priority at side roads or improvements to the quality of the surface. Given what’s to come further down the road, we should probably be thankful for this.

Carrying on, there’s a glimmer of hope as you reach a reasonably well implemented bus stop bypass. It’s not perfect, the kerbs are quite high and are not splayed. But if the rest of the route was built to this standard, it would be far better.

A reasonably decent bus stop bypass, if only the rest of the route was this good

Things take a turn for the worse once you reach the IWM North, at the junction where the Metrolink joins Trafford Wharf Road. In a long tradition of creating badly designed and confusing junctions, this is up there with some of TfGM’s best (worst) work.

Leave the cycle lane and mount the shared use path to do a right turn, is that the best they could come up with?

Trying to negotiate this junction on a bike is awful, signage is poor and you’re ferried between cycle lanes and shared use paths. How this confusing mess passed any kind of safety audit, I don’t know. Expect to see collisions here.

Leave the shared use path, cross the road, then back on another shared use path with no clear route

Beyond the junction, it’s more painted cycle lanes. There’s plenty of space here to do something better, but TfGM decided not to bother and went with the cheapest option.

Plenty of space for everything except for decent cycling infrastructure

The junction with Warren Bruce Road is also pretty poor. Crossing Trafford Wharf Road at this point is a 3 stage process, requiring you to cross a traffic lane, then the tram lines, then another traffic lane. There’s no priority for walking and cycling, so expect to wait a while if you want a green light to cross road sections.

Tight angles and 3 stages make crossing Trafford Wharf Road a pretty awful experience

The 3 stages are also quite tricky to negotiate on a bike, I’d imagine people will struggle here. None of this would have been necessary if the junction was planned as a single stage for walking and cycling.

Returning along the other side of Trafford Wharf Road is a marginally better experience. The section near ITV Studios is shared use path replacing what was a protected cycleway. Though there’s still no priority of side junctions.

Dedicated cycleway running parallel to the tram lines, this isn’t bad

After the junction with the IWM North, there’s a reasonable section of dedicated cycleway that runs parallel to the tram lines, then crosses over them. Beyond that, it returns to the existing protected cycleway, that hasn’t seen any improvements.

Trafford Wharf

When plans for the Metrolink Trafford Park Line were initially announced, my initial concerns were for the survival of Trafford Wharf and Promenade Park. This used to be lovely green space, well used by everyone and families in particular.

Trafford Wharf and Promenade Park in better days, back in 2016

I raised my concerns at the time about public green space being taken away from Trafford Wharf, to be used for the Metrolink lines. I was told additional space would provided on the land between Quay West and the Metrolink lines. I was also told by Sean Anstee, the previous leader of the Trafford Council, that the landscape strategy detailing this would be provided, but it has never materialised.

What remains of Promenade Park, now neglected and strewn with broken glass

What little remains of Promenade Park is now neglected, overgrown and broken. We have no idea what is to happen with this area once construction on the line is complete as no details have ever been made available. This used to be a lovely space and it was only installed a few years ago as a reasonable expense. It’s disappointing that there’s never been any engagement from the council about the future plans.

Warren Bruce Road

The work carried out on Warren Bruce Road is probably the best example of TfGM ripping up what used to be reasonably decent infrastructure and replacing it with something that’s far worse than what we had.

Before the development, there used to be a decent quality bidirectional protected cycleway, which was only let down by poor maintenance and the fact it was often blocked by pavement-parked cars on weekdays and match-days.

Warren Bruce Road before the TPL development, with a safe, decent bidirectional cycleway, only let down by lack of maintenance and parking enforcement

It has now been replaced with stepped cycleway on the northbound side and a painted lane on the southbound side. The northbound side is generally good, though with no physical segregation from the carriageway, it will be a magnet for pavement parking, without enforcement.

New northbound stepped cycleway, good in theory, but the surface is poor quality

The surface is pretty questionable, given it’s only just been laid. Unlike the main carriageway, it’s pretty bumpy. This is the same for most of the newly installed cycleways and shared use paths. Obviously, Trafford Council and TfGM have been willing to accept substandard surfaces for those walking and cycling.

Little difference in height and lack of enforcement in the area will mean this will be a magnet for pavement parking

Things are far worse on the southbound side. Safe, protected cycling infrastructure has been replaced with paint, on a road that sees more than its fair share of lorries, coaches and other large vehicles.

Protected cycleway replaced with paint and forced off the pavement into the path of motor vehicles

Coming from Trafford Wharf Road, you’re forced off the shared use path and onto the road, in the path of accelerating vehicles. Something that clearly deserves to be featured on Bollocks Infra.

Even the quality of implementation is poor. You wouldn’t think you’d be able to go wrong with a bit paint and a couple of ramps, but the contractors have managed it. A lump of asphalt means a bumpy transition as you reach Village Circle.

Who’d have thought you could mess up a bit of paint and some ramps? The contractors have managed it, look at the state of that lump of asphalt on the ramp

Why has safe, protected infrastructure been replaced with this rubbish? There’s no excuse for it. There is more than enough room here to provide protected cycleways in both directions or at a minimum, Wand Orcas to protect the lane.

As a family, we used to ride down Warren Bruce Road when cycling to the quays from the Bridgewater Canal, as it was a safe, stress free route. The lack of safety means we won’t do that now. So well done TfGM, your ‘improvements’ are actually making people less likely to cycle.

Back to part 1 – Introduction | Next to part 3 – Village Way to Barton Dock Road

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