Trafford shows where there’s a will there’s a Way
The resurfacing of Bridgewater Way, Trafford
The resurfacing of the Bridgewater canal towpath between Altrincham and Trafford Park shows that where there’s a will, there’s a way to create a car-free cycle route.
It had been many decades since the towpath’s intended users had trodden the route and, without horses’ hooves beating the path clear, nature had done its best to reclaim the canalside. However, in Sustrans’ Connect2 initiative, Trafford Council saw its chance to reinstate the Bridgewater towpath for a new kind of traveller.
However, the project wasn’t straight forward. Connect2 was a match funding scheme so it required additional fundraising; the land, like the canal, was owned by a private company, Peel Holdings; and there was consternation over the plans for cyclists to share the path with pedestrians. These last concerns were particularly heart-felt, since a section of the route was a walking route to a local primary school.
Trafford Council’s Dominic Smith marshalled “an awful lot of funding partners” and secured the landowner’s commitment to ongoing maintenance. He also agreed to install a chicane at the school entrance, answering parents’ concerns about “cyclists piling along at great speed”.
The path has seen a 370% increase in cycle use since it reopened, according to Dominic, and The Bridgewater Way now forms the spine of Trafford’s walking and cycling network.
Dominic spoke at the third regional seminar on active travel, organised by North West Active Travel Network, which GMCC attended. The seminar also heard about Wigan’s plans for active travel in the town of Leigh, Lancashire’s unusual tactics for enforcing 20mph limits and Poynton’s new shared space junction.