Cycling Infrastructure Proposals Walking

Half of High Lane A6 cycle link could be created with one road filter

A6 High Lane Cycle Link? It starts here. Road closure sign.

Stockport Council has trialled a single closure point to stop queue-jumping on a residential road off the A6 at the High Lane — a move which, if made permanent, could also provide up to half the length of a safe cycling route along this busy travel corridor.

For six weeks from late January, the council installed temporary vehicle barriers at the junction of Park Road and Hartington Road, on the south side of the A6.

The temporary filter wasn’t pretty, nor was it brilliantly executed (in fact not really a filter as, when I visited, they’d not left any gap to cycle through without mounting the pavement), but the effect on rat-running and speeding drivers was immediate.

Map showing effect of road filter on cycle routes through High Lane.
Map showing the “High Lane Gap”, a key barrier in cycling between Greater Manchester, the Peak District and towns on its borders. Note how much of a protected link could be created by stopping cars racing right through here. (A dotted line shows how a cycle route could optionally extend to a passageway at Eden Avenue, leading right into the centre of High Lane and avoiding more of the A6.)
Road closed sign in front of temporary barriers beside Hartington Road nameplate.
Looking towards the thundering A6 from behind the all-too-brief safety of the temporary water-filled barriers.
The roads and junctions on this old estate are unusually wide, encouraging fast and hostile driving. The size and cost of the one filter to help prevent that? Tiny.
The closure and consultation have been publicised along the A6, but no doubt caught a few “regular users” out.
This residential area already has a 20 mph limit and has incredibly low genuine traffic movements, so is ideal for cycling and walking once the more impatient “rat-runners” are removed.

These 20 mph residential roads can provide a perfect escape route from the A6, far quieter and more pleasant for walking and far safer for cycling. And, unusually for a parallel quiet route, with almost no penalty in extra distance.

Except, because of a minority of drivers who choose to rat-run (or to put it better, queue-jump) when traffic on the A6 is queueing, often at excessive speed, the roads can all too often feel hostile themselves. I’ve personally had experiences of being cut-up and close-passed at well over 20 mph on these back roads, which is just ridiculous, and I know I’m not alone.

And then it was gone. The temporary trial filter has now been removed. Suddenly the prospect of a driver deciding to accelerate off the A6 and into this quiet neighbourhood is back – for now?

The area is already subject to an “access only” restriction for motor vehicles, but only between 6am and 10am on weekdays and with no enforcement. As anyone who knows the area can testify, queues on the A6 are no longer just a Weekday AM thing (weekends can even be worse, and spread longer through the day), and signs alone do nothing to stop selfish behaviour.

You’ll also know (or can imagine) how terrifying it can be to try and cycle the A6 itself, and how difficult (you might even say impossible) it is to find a reasonable alternative. No need to say more on that.

The alternative: the section of the A6 parallel to Hartington Road is a particular pinch-point in an otherwise fairly wide road, with pavements which are already too narrow by modern standards. There’s no hope of cycle lanes here, so physically traffic-calming the residential streets is the only option – and actually quite a good one.

I’m sure most reading this want to see excess space on the A6 given to protected cycle lanes. Though this could be possible for much of its length, there is definitely a notable pinch-point in its width parallel to Hartington Road (see here between the old cottages, and the tight junction with Andrew Lane). I just can’t see a cycleway being feasible here. In this case, a fully-calmed Hartington Road is probably not just a good option but the only option.

What strikes me most of all with this proposal is that, for the relatively tiny cost of one set of permanent bollards — which won’t restrict any genuine access either side — up to half the distance of a cycle route between the Stockport border and the existing old Buxton Road link* would be solved (roughly 0.9 miles of 1.8 miles). Then there’s the local benefits for noise, air quality, pedestrian safety, kids playing out and crucially, the nearby primary school.

*The point where you can turn onto the beautifully quiet old, bypassed A6 towards the A555 cycleway, Hazel Grove suburbs and the new cycleway to Bramhall Park.

That’s astonishing value from one filter. Residents would still have three other separate side roads (which aren’t so productive to rat-running) providing vehicle access to the area, with an absolute maximum extra 700 metres by car mostly for those on the filtered stub of road (worth it for a much more peaceful front garden, surely).

Immediately, there’d then be a physically-calmed and protected cycle route from the Stockport boundary with Cheshire East at least into the centre of High Lane, branching out to all these residential roads and the primary school.

A road filter with basic wooden planters and a bollard.
Besides a plain row of bollards, some road filters have planters to add greenery and welcoming signs to make clear it’s not really “closed” at all. (Photo: Warrington BC Website)
A filtered street with quality paving, trees and planting.
Given more thought (and funding), road filters can become beautiful pocket parks, with trees and planting, mini allotment beds, a community focal point. (Photo: Sustrans)

Connecting this onwards to Middlewood Way, the A555 and Hazel Grove (as 1,500 have so far demanded) will be more difficult, for sure, as will getting Cheshire East to ever understand just how diabolical their painted cycle lanes to and from Disley are. But it starts here — it’s a vital first piece of the puzzle.

The consultation states that the council have also gathered road survey data before and during the trial to show the effect of the closure, which it’s to be hoped reinforces the positives above.

However, none of the communication from the council (including the initial letter sent to residents) has really attempted to promote the positive benefits of a road filter like this. It’s all focused on stopping speeding and rat running, rather than opening up new active routes and a more liveable neighbourhood. I can’t understand why that is, and I worry it will have very negatively affected some opinions as a result.

If you want to see safer, more liveable neighbourhoods and a fix for cycling this part of the A6 corridor, do take just a minute to support making the closure point permanent now.

Back in 2020 I got the crayons out and mapped how a fairly realistic High Lane cycle link and wider network could look, including how a traffic-calmed Hartington Road could be plugged into new shared crossings across the A6. I thought a road filter here might be one of the more fantasy elements – is it now within reach? The High Lane Cycle Link petition is still open to sign here.

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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.