The Greater Manchester mayor has defended plans for a new segregated cycle path on the A56 – saying that drivers currently "dominate" and cars "have got all the road".

The mayor was responding to a question from a resident named Mike on his weekly BBC Radio Manchester hotseat show.

The question was read out as follows: “Andy’s invested a lot of time into the Bee Network, which relies on the buses being on time and reliable.

“So, what does he think of Trafford Council’s plans to install permanent cycle lanes across the A56 from Sale to Stretford which will cause congestion at all times, and major congestion at peak times, and when cricket or football is on?”

Police data from 2019 showed the A56 was the most dangerous route for cyclists, with 67 incidents on the road between 2015 and 2017.

Plans to improve the layout of temporary cycle infrastructure on the section of the route, termed "Phase 2", in Stretford were consulted on earlier this year.

Temporary cycle lanes were installed on Chester Road and Edge Lane in the early stages of the pandemic in 2020 using traffic cones, sparking anger from some road users, with the cones getting stolen, leading to a police investigation.

Prior to the installation of the cones, the road was three lanes wide in both directions at some points.

Messenger Newspapers: Mockup of what the infrastructure could look like northbound, prior to Edge LaneMockup of what the infrastructure could look like northbound, prior to Edge Lane (Image: Trafford Council)

On the show, the mayor responded: “The first thing to say is that the Bee Network won’t be in Trafford until early 2025, this is just preparatory at this stage, we’ve already got the Bee Network in the west of Greater Manchester at the moment but it is heading towards Trafford.

“What I would say is, we’ve got to get to a position where we create space for all road users. People raise concerns about people on e-bikes or on e-scooters potentially posing a risk to pedestrians, so we’ve got to create segregated space for them.

“We’ve got to create more bus lanes to make the Bee Network work better. So, the world where drivers dominate and cars have got all the road – we just can’t be in that world anymore because life is changing. We need to encourage more people on to public transport.

“The Bee Network will work because of some of those bus priority measures that we’re going to put in place.”

Host Mike Sweeney then commented that the A56 is of a "finite width" and asked the mayor if he would be able to fit a cycle lane and bus lane on the A56, while retaining room for drivers.

Messenger Newspapers: Concerns were raised that the road is not wide enough to accommodate segregated cycle infrastructureConcerns were raised that the road is not wide enough to accommodate segregated cycle infrastructure (Image: Google)

The mayor added: “It depends where, doesn’t it? I’d have to look at the precise design that Trafford Council are considering because the A56 can get very wide, actually, in certain parts of it.

“If you get towards the Stretford side of it, you’re talking four lanes aren’t you, at least on one side of the carriageway.

“It depends how it’s done and where it’s done, but should it be done? Yes. We’ve got to create safe space for all road users.”

The Bee Network

As part of the new Bee Network, bus routes, timetables and more are controlled by Transport for Greater Manchester from now on in Bolton and Wigan, as well as parts of Salford and Bury.

Messenger Newspapers: A yellow Bee Network busA yellow Bee Network bus (Image: TfGM)

Oldham and Rochdale's buses will come under the system from March 2024, along with the remaining parts of Bury and Salford.

An additional 50 yellow electric buses, on top of those already in service, have been ordered ready for Oldham, Rochdale, and the remainder of Bury to become part of the system.

The remaining parts of the city region, including Trafford, are set to join from January 2025.

After Greater Manchester buses in every borough have been brought under the system, passengers will be able to tap-in and tap-out across all buses and trams without having to decide on a ticket in advance, with fares capped at the "Bee AnyBus + Tram" price, similar to the system which has already been in place in London’s transport system for years, as well as many other major cities across the globe.

The system may even go cashless in the future, with Mr Burnham previously saying there was "an argument both ways" and that a decision had not been taken, before adding that most felt it would be safer and speed up journeys to go cashless. 

Trafford Council was contacted for comment on this story.