Multi-million pound cycle lane has ‘killed village’, locals say

Residents and businesses say the bike path means people can't park outside shops anymore

Watch: Multi-million pound cycle lane has crippled trade and 'killed' village

Angry locals have claimed a new multi-million cycle lane has "killed" their village by crippling trade.

Residents and business owners say the bike path in Castleton, Greater Manchester, has meant customers can no longer park outside shops, reducing footfall.

The dedicated space for cyclists on Manchester Road took around 18 months to build as part of a wider £4.4m scheme of road improvements.

However, Stephen Thomas, 60, who owns Smith's Bakery And Confectioners, says he has been forced to close one of his branches due to a lack of trade.

Rochdale Borough Council says it is “sorry” to hear the businesses' concerns about the lack of footfall.

It added that the project had just been finished and footfall may not have had a chance to recover yet.

cycle path
The cycle lane is located in Castleton, Greater Manchester (SWNS).

Thomas’s bakery has been in his family since 1928 and they had five branches in the area at one point. However, he says the cycle lane has hampered his business.

He claims cyclists “very rarely” use the new lane because it's “not a main cycle route” in the village.

Thomas said: "You could park outside - so tradesmen could jump out of their van and people with mobility issues could park outside and come into the shop.

"Unfortunately all of that facility has been taken away from us. I had to let my staff go and I had to close the shop, because it just wasn't paying anymore.

"People can't park where it's convenient or where they have access."

Mark Fowler, 46, has owned the New Bridge chip shop for more than 20 years but says work on the cycle lane has battered his business and led to a 50% drop in trade.

He added: "As soon as they started digging up the road, there was four-way temporary traffic lights and massive traffic jams, so people were just avoiding the area.

"Even during the construction, there's not been anywhere to park so our trade has dropped by around 50%. The council said that businesses wouldn't be affected, but obviously they have."

Mark Fowler, 46, owner of New Bridge Chippy along Castleton Highstreet. (SWNS)
Mark Fowler, owner of New Bridge Chippy along Castleton Highstreet. (SWNS)

He also says some businesses have closed down because of a lack of parking.

He said: "There used to be four parking spaces outside my shop and the pub next door - you could wait for 20 minutes and they were for the businesses. There was also further parking down Manchester Road and they've taken away resident's parking."

Resident Julie Jones, 55, thinks the cycle lane is 'not a good idea' because she 'never sees cyclists' using it. She added: "I think I've only seen around three cyclists using it during this time, most people use the canal.”

However, Phillip Leicester, 70, used the cycle lane for the first time on Thursday and said it was a positive step. He said: "It's causing a lot of disruption with the local businesses, but I suppose it's one of them things were you have to wait until everything is done.

"You do feel a lot safer but sometimes people don't understand what a cycle lane is - you still get people who walk in the middle of it.”

Rochdale Borough Council has apologised. (SWNS)

A spokesman for Rochdale Borough Council said: “We’re sorry to hear reports that businesses are concerned about the impact of Transport for Greater Manchester’s active travel scheme in Castleton.

"It has brought new pedestrian crossings, fully resurfaced roads and pavements and new parking facilities, in addition to the cycle lane.

"Construction work on this project only finished very recently, so footfall may not have had chance to fully recover yet. But we’ve put in place a number of measures which will support businesses going forward."

‌The spokesperson added they had created a new 80-space car park, which is only a couple of minutes walk from the local businesses, and had constructed a new 32-space car park next to Castleton Train Station.

Which UK cities are most cycle lane-friendly?

As part of its Cycling Cities campaign, Saga carried out research to find the most cycle-friendly cities in the UK, surveying 2,000 adults from different generations.

Its research, published in July 2023, found that Norwich is the most cycle-friendly city in the UK, scoring high marks for categories like cycle routes, bike-sharing schemes and cycle-friendly weather conditions.

Other high-scoring cities when it came to cycle routes included: Newcastle, Belfast, Nottingham, Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff and Plymouth.

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