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Cycling Funding Infrastructure Proposals

More ‘Hazel Grove Links’ beyond Torkington Park still yet to be funded

Should’ve titled that post Hazel Grove Link, singular. It turns out, the upgraded path through Torkington Park is still the only part of the Bee Network’s most southeasterly project that Stockport Council has funding for.

The upgraded path — effectively 50 cm extra tarmac, a short new path to bypass a narrow section, and some streetlights — is now completed.

Map showing “Phase 1” of the Hazel Grove Links Bee Network scheme. Basically just a slightly wider, lit path through a park.

It links the housing around Lingfield Avenue (on the “racecourse” estate) to the centre of Hazel Grove, via an existing crossing on the A627 Torkington Road into Hazelwood Road.

Now it’s finished, it’s a welcome minor upgrade but definitely the kind of thing you’d expect a council to just do anyway, not claim as part of what should be the game-changing Bee Network. Especially with that horribly narrow link at one end.

The path is now protected from a sharp fall into the brook by a fence, but this immediately narrows the usable width of the, err, widened path.

The resurfaced parts (yes they did resurface the whole width, thankfully) are also nice and smooth, though seem to be gathering some thin surface puddles — not to mention already being lost beneath vegetation.

Lighting looks nice, but with sightlines like this would you feel safe using it in the dark?

Lighting might be welcome, especially with short days in winter, but I have doubts that in a location like this it’s going to convince anyone to walk or ride it in the dark who doesn’t feel safe doing so already.

Thin puddles on a brand new path isn’t a good start.

One lacking final detail is signage. Unless you’ve researched this scheme, you’d have no idea why an extra path suddenly diverts off, what the preferred route is, where it goes or that it’s even there to start with. The council haven’t promoted it at all and their current projects web page hasn’t been updated in over five months.

The eastern link out to Lingfield Avenue now has a dropped kerb, but no painted lines. That’s if you can get past that expanding hedge by the end of the year…

And that’s… it. For now.

If you made it through the lengthy earlier post I compiled about this scheme, you might remember that it should be “Hazel Grove Links” plural.

Map showing elements of the Hazel Grove Links Bee Network scheme, described elsewhere.
The original approved proposals for the “Hazel Grove Links” (plural!) scheme.

A few other comparatively tiny interventions like a new crossing and improved road filter were meant to complete the package. Just simple things to make an existing wiggly back route avoiding the A6 more user friendly.

Lines highlight a proposed road crossing.
A walking and cycling crossing over Chester Road between the “allotment path” and Hazel Grove railway station, desperately needed for years, was proposed over two years ago. Nothing has happened.
A road filtered to through vehicle traffic is blocked by parked vehicles.
A single filter on Neville Street was meant to be redesigned with double yellow lines to at least leave some space to pass through by bike. Not asking much, is it?
A blind turn onto a road from a cycle path.
Turning onto Hazelwood Road from the upgraded Torkington Park path can be hairy with a busy junction on the left and a blind bend to the right. A raised table was meant to be added here. (Not enough – it also needs a 20 mph limit at least.)

However, as to when the rest of the minor links will be completed, the official answer at last week’s online Walking and Cycling Forum was a defensive mixture of “still more design work” and “when funding is available”.

I couldn’t quite believe such a minor scheme, consulted on in 2019 and approved in 2020, was still awaiting funding. Especially after the council enjoyed a boasty Manchester Evening News article last year about signing off this “£500k Bee Network scheme making it easier to walk or cycle to Stepping Hill Hospital”.

I hope you didn’t have an urgent hospital visit, because apparently Phase 1 really is just this route through the park.

A Stockport Council officer confirmed today via email:

“Further development and delivery of elements of the Hazel Grove Links scheme beyond Torkington Park is subject to funding being obtained, including improved crossings on the A6, Chester Road and Bramhall Moor Road, and improved path connections.”

Perhaps it’s a general failing of the Bee Network funding backlog: too many projects, not enough money trickling through. But this scheme really only comprises “quick wins” the council should’ve addressed years ago. Does everything now need to wait for Bee Network (aka Mayor’s Challenge Fund) money?

This isn’t a grand cycle superhighway requiring tens of millions in special funding. A crossing on a dangerous road, yellow lines on a road filter and removing a discriminatory barrier. At least two of those could be done almost immediately, if they had any sense of urgency, and the council recently found money elsewhere for a welcome Zebra crossing on nearby Commercial Road.

A chicane barrier blocks accessibility.
This barrier on the proposed route at the end of Battersbay Grove was supposed to be removed as part of the scheme. Why can’t this be removed NOW?

Waiting to scrape around for funding from Greater Manchester for such basic road safety and cycling improvements shows just unwilling Stockport Council is to make meaningful, immediate change with its own resources.

And all the while, in the background, it appears to be making no movement whatsoever towards the goal of a “busy beeway” cycleway along the A6 itself — meaning people trying to cycle safely don’t need to be shunted off down these unintuitive back routes. (There’s now an A6 Critical Mass campaigning for that.)

Here’s a more accurate local newspaper headline: Council lacks backbone or any sense of urgency to create safe cycling routes to major hospital.

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About Peaks & Puddles

Hello, I'm Anthony. I started Peaks & Puddles to chart the ups and downs of cycling and walking the edges of the Peak District around Buxton, Macclesfield and Stockport, and to help more people explore this brilliant landscape between town and country. Find out more about me and Peaks & Puddles here.