Metrolink Trafford Park Line – March 2020 (Part 3)

Part 3 of an in-depth review of the Metrolink Trafford Park Line, looking at the section between Village Way and Barton Dock Road.

Back to part 2 – Sir Alex Ferguson Way to Warren Bruce Road

Village Way

The changes on Village Way start at Village Circle, which now has Metrolink lines and a carriageway running through it. There isn’t a great deal of difference for walking and cycling here and it still takes forever to cross, with the number of stages and the lack of priority at the lights.

From Village Circle, you have to leave the shared use path and carry on along the road towards Parkway Circle, with just a painted lane and no protection. I’m sure TfGM would argue that this is an improvement, as previously there was nothing along here. But this is a dual carriageway with a 40mph speed limit, do TfGM really think that a painted lane and no protection is appropriate in 2020?

Speeding traffic and lots of lorries on a 40mph dual carriageway and all we get is a bit of paint

It’s quite a wide cycle lane too, so some kind of protection could easily have been included, even just Wand Orcas. Many drivers use Village Way as their own personal drag strip. In my opinion, not providing any protection here for people cycling is a clear dereliction of TfGM’s duties.

Approaching Parkway Circle, you cross the Mosley Road junction, which has a combination of cycle lanes and shared use paths, none of which are particularly ideal. A bit further, you reach another decent bus stop bypass, which offers a ray of light. But not for long as you are soon back in an unprotected lane, then a narrow shared use path.

Another decent bus stop bypass offers a ray of light in an otherwise awful stretch of road

The opposite eastbound side is somewhat more successful. Starting at Parkway Circle, it begins with the existing protected cycleway, next to a nonexistent footway, desperately in need of some maintenance. There’s then a stretch of new protected cycleway, before you’re forced into a suicide lane at the Mosley Road junction.

On the other side of the junction, you’re led onto another shared use path, then over the tram tracks at a slightly awkward crossing for bikes. The shared use path then carries on parallel to the tram lines as you negotiate a slalom of posts for overhead power cables, street lights and road signs. Could this not have been organised a little better?

The post slalom on a section of shared use path

At the turning for CHEP UK, there’s a slightly odd arrangement as you cross one road via a shared use path, then cross the next via a painted lane. It’s a confusing mess, full of conflict and with no priority. Could they have not done better?

After the turning, it’s then back across the tram lines and onto a protected cycleway parallel to the tram lines. This would be pretty good if it wasn’t for the bumpy surface. There’s also quite a steep slope on the right leading directly onto the tram tracks. You wouldn’t want to fall off here while a tram is coming along.

Dedicated cycleway, but with a bumpy surface and steep slope to the right

As you arrive at Village Circle, there’s a combination of shared use paths and cycleways as you negotiate the many stages needed to cross the roundabout. There’s also the typical lack of priority over side roads and more really badly placed posts.

Narrow bidirectional cycleway with complementary posts

Parkway Circle

Parkway Circle has always been a pretty unpleasant place to walk or cycle. With many lanes of speeding speeding traffic to cross and no signalled crossings, you really did take your life into your own hands crossing here.

Signalled crossings at Parkway Circle are a welcome addition, the wait times to cross are not

So the introduction of signalled crossings as part of these changes is a big improvement, meaning you can at least cross in relative safety, compared to before. The problem is, there’s no priority at any of these crossings, so it takes forever to cross, and I mean forever. I gave up waiting at many of the crossings, standing there waiting for a green after pressing the beg buttons, while there was no traffic.

Completely pointless slalom barriers, something that feature all too often on Metrolink crossings, but why here?

In addition, some of the dedicated cycleways have been replaced with shared use paths. I’m not sure why as there’s plenty of space. There’s also some unnecessary slalom barriers as you cross from one side of Parkway to the other, over the tram tracks. These are something you see on other parts of the Metrolink network, but generally not on the Trafford Park Line. So why here?

Park Way

The section of Park Way between Parkway Circle and Barton Dock Road is pretty much as it was. It’s quite an unpleasant road to walk or cycle along, on the narrow shared use path. It’s much like walking along a motorway, with traffic speeds to match.

It would have been fantastic to see this stretch of the route improved, given there isn’t many locations you can get across the Bridgewater Canal. But alas, it clearly wasn’t a priority.

Barton Dock Road

Turning right off the Park Way slip road, the first section of Barton Dock Road is the existing tunnel under Park Way itself. There’s then the existing crossing across one of the other slip roads. None of this has seen any improvements as part of this scheme.

The existing cycleway on Barton Dock Road, messy with awkward angles

Once across the lights, you carry on along the existing bidirectional protected cycleway. There’s signs of some patchwork improvements here and newly painted markings, but not much more. At the Mercury Way junction, the existing cycleway gives way to a newly laid bidirectional cycleway. The cycleway and footway swap sides for some reason, something which will lead to unecessary conflict.

As with the other newly created cycleways, the finish of the surface is pretty poor, though it’s good to see demarcation kerbs has been used to separate the cycleway from the footway. This is much better than painted lines.

Newly installed cycleway, poor surface again but there’s demarcation kerbs at least

What really lets this section of the route down is the lack of priority at the side junctions. This is particularly true at the turning for the new car dealerships. The size of this turning and radius of the corners is completely inappropriate. The junction is so wide, they’ve had to put an refuge island in the middle.

Enormous turning, wide radius and no priority for walking and cycling, is this really appropriate in 2020?

The cycleway continues in much the same way up to Peel Circle and there’s another reasonably well implemented bus stop bypass along the way. As is the case for most of this scheme, the cycleway changes to shared use paths once you reach the junction at Peel Circle, though that isn’t the biggest issue here.

Yes, can probably guess, Peel Circle is another signalled roundabout and that can only mean one thing. Huge wait times crossing by foot or bike, usually while there’s an empty road in front of you. This generally leads people to risk crossing junctions without a green signal or just not bothering and getting in their car next time. It’s really frustrating, as the route through here is actually okay otherwise.

More signalled crossings, so more long waits

Once you’ve eventually got through Peel Circle, the cycleway continues as it meanders the perimeter of The Trafford Centre. It then carries on as a mixture of existing and new cycleways, plus some sections of shared use paths with the usual obstacles. It’s not brilliant, but it’s not terrible, and it’s much safer than riding along the road, which has an inappropriate 40mph limit.

Crossing the road onto the eastbound side, things are a little more mixed. It starts with the existing cycleway, which has been resurfaced. Reaching Bright Circle, you hit the very real obstacle of crossing the turning for Asda and Costco. The combination of informal crossings and lots of speeding traffic makes this a frustrating and dangerous place to cross, either on foot or bike.

Dangerous informal crossing at Asda/Costco turning, desperately needs signals to be made safe

The existing cycleway ends at Barton Square, where a new route has been realigned to make way for the Metrolink stop and lines. This is mostly a bidirectional cycleway, with the usual sections of shared use paths and crossings across the tram tracks. This section is actually mostly good. There’s definitely ways it could be improved, but on the whole it works.

The new section ends at the junction with Park Way and the existing shared use path continues under the bridge and meets the Park Way slip road.

Back to part 2 – Sir Alex Ferguson Way to Warren Bruce Road

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