A plan to get cyclists off one of the most dangerous roads for bikers in Greater Manchester has been welcomed by senior Trafford councillors.

The proposal is to create a 4.6 kilometre cycle route using redundant rail tracks between Britannia Road and Trafford Bar, alongside the current Metrolink line.

It would get cyclists off the A56 where there have been 210 serious accidents between 2016 and last year.

The authority has now agreed to put it forward along with other similar schemes for consideration by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and the combined authority.

Lone petitioner, Geoff Densham compiled a petition bearing more than 600 names and presented his case to full meeting of Trafford Council.

Mr Densham worked on the construction of the Bury to Altrincham Metrolink line in 1989/90 and has spent all his working life on transportation systems.

His idea would separate cyclists from cars on the A56 and walkers using the tow path of the Bridgewater Canal along a similar route.

He told councillors: “I like the idea of fully integrated transportation corridors, but from the experience of other countries I see that when we use shared space in the UK it doesn’t really work very well.

“Smaller and slower modes of transportation are intimidated by faster or larger modes. Lorry drivers often initimidate car drivers. Car drivers intimidate cyclists and cyclists intimidate pedestrians. I speak as a car driver, cyclist and a pedestrian.”

He said that recent developments on the cycle and pedestrian mix were also of concern.

“During the pandemic there have been a 50 per cent increase in the number of pet dogs and therefore the number of pedestrians with dogs walking along shared routes,” he said.

“A lot of these dogs have not been to socialising or training classes because of the pandemic, so they do tend to wander round.

“Also, more pedestrians are wearing earbuds and are unaware of other users on the shared space.

“So I believe that separating different modes reduces intimidation and conflict.”

He suggested that the old tracks from Britannia Road to Talbot Road – used for semi-fast trains from Liverpool and Chester to Manchester Central station and which were lifted during the renowned Beeching cuts in 1963 – could provide the solution.

Mr Densham continued: “”I believe that these two routes could provide a dedicated cycle route. The challenge is that Old Trafford station will need some management because a lot of people come out there.

“The Metrolink sub stations along the route will cause some narrowing of the route in some places. But the substations are pretty small. Security, particularly late at night, is an issue. But you can use the Metrolink line and the canal as natural barriers to improve security.

“There are limited access points. But it’s no worse for any alternative for those that live on the east of any of these current routes.”

He said the advantage is that there would be a straight route which is 4.6 kilometres long. The cyclists would be nowhere near 'polluting internal combustion engines'.

Mr Densham said: “I believe it would be dedicated to cyclists and because of all the bridges on the route, there would be few crossing points with other user-types which would cause conflict.”

And he hailed Manchester’s reputation for reusing redundant Victorian structures, lie Central Station, which was converted to G-Mex.

“The Deansgate viaduct has recently been repurposed as SkyPark,” he said. “And I believe this could be a new cycle facility using the redundant rail tracks which would be of benefit for the people of Trafford.”

Cllr Andrew Western broadly welcomed the idea but voiced concern over the security of people using such a cycle track and entry and exit points along the route.

But he said the plan would be put forward for consideration along with a number of other schemes the council are currently looking at.

“I do have those concerns which makes me question where it would sit in the grand scheme of prioritisation. But actually, it is untapped potential at present. So I will be interested to see the result of that work from TfGM.”

Cllr Linda Blackburn said she supported the petition, saying that the current cycle way on the A56 imposed during the first lockdown had 'not been popular'.

She added: “To have cyclists going on a route using rail tracks disused because of Beeching in the early 60s, would be safer for cyclists and it would also be better for motorists, because there’s been a lot of congestion on the A56 particularly because of the narrowing of the main road at certain points.”

Cllr Jane Brophy also welcomed the plan, saying: “Well done on collecting 637 signatures – that’s an amazing feat.

“We investigated this extensively when we saw the petition and we think this route can be made viable.

“I do agree that pedestrians do often have their earpieces in and they don’t hear you when you come along on a bike. Definitely, the proposal to separate out cyclists along this very busy route will be welcome.”

Cllr Michael Welton said: “What this petition demonstrates more than anything is that people in Trafford are desperate for decent cycling infrastructure.

“This petition got over 600 signatures in just a few days. I know the petition for safe cycle lanes on the A56 received over 1,200 signatures. It just goes to show that the demand is there.”

But he went on to say that the council needs to back schemes that are easily accessible to all and where bikers of all ages and genders can feel safe riding along no matter what time of day or year.

Cllr Welton said: “The canal path doesn’t provide this and there must be questions about whether another scenic but isolated scheme will either.

“Safe permanent cycle lanes down the A56, linking the north and south of the borough must be the priority. Only they will form the active travel spine from which other routes can feed. Anything else will be a half-measure.”