‘They must have caught the A5073 on a bad day’

A Blackpool road has been named as the second slowest commuter route in Lancashire – much to the bemusement of those that use it.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 1st September 2015, 2:21 pm
Steve Canavan drives through Waterloo Road, which has been named as one of the slowest commuter routes in Lancashire.
Steve Canavan drives through Waterloo Road, which has been named as one of the slowest commuter routes in Lancashire.

The westbound A5073 - more commonly known as Waterloo Road – was named and shamed in a report by the Department for Transport.

According to the figures, the average speed of cars on the stretch of road from Oxford Square through Spen Corner to Lytham Road is just 11.8mph.

That makes it the second worst in Lancashire, behind the A5071 in Preston where the average speed is barely 9mph.

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Steve Canavan drives through Waterloo Road, which has been named as one of the slowest commuter routes in Lancashire.

However, just why it is rated so bad is a mystery to many.

“To say I’m surprised at this is a bit of an understatement,” said Coun David O’Hara, councillor for Waterloo.

“I’ve travelled in a lot of areas, all over Britain, and I’ve always thought Blackpool – and that road in particular – is quite good for driving about.

“I’m a bit puzzled and I can only think they measured it when we had the roadworks at Oxford Square because that’s the only time I can remember there being a few hold-ups.”

Steve Canavan drives through Waterloo Road, which has been named as one of the slowest commuter routes in Lancashire.

Fellow Waterloo councillor, Derek Robertson, thinks the figures are down to the number of traffic lights on the stretch of road.

“I haven’t had any complaints about the volume of traffic on the road so I can only think it is the traffic light system which is causing the problem,” he said.

“Five roads come together at Spen Corner and the lights are on red for ages, so that will automatically slow down the flow of traffic.

“ So the traffic signals are what needs addressing, not the number of cars.”

The Department for Transport carried out a survey of every A-road in Lancashire between April and June by measuring the average speed achieved by vehicles during the weekday rush-hour between 7 and 10am.

Central Drive was also in the list of Lancashire’s top 10 of slowest roads.

But Alice Lapley, who lives on Waterloo Road, can’t understand what the fuss is about.

“When the schools are open it gets a bit busy but it’s no worse than anywhere else,” she said.

“I’d prefer to drive along this road than the Prom. I can’t work out why they think it’s the slowest in the whole resort. They must have caught it on a bad day.”

Coun Fred Jackson, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for roads, said: “This is one of the most bizarre and useless pieces of research we have seen for some time.

“There are so many factors affecting roads from one day to another from seasonal variations to roadworks that speeds need to be measured over a long period of time to get an accurate impression.

“For example, during the period during which the measurements were taken, United Utilities were carrying out pipe replacement works which impacted significantly on Central Drive both directly and indirectly.

“Waterloo Road, of course, has traffic calming measures in the district centre as it is a shopping area as well as school crossing patrols during the time in the morning during which the measurements were taken which will affect average speeds.

“There is nothing to be said about these figures other than they don’t really tell us anything.”

Nationally the report found that roads across England are getting slower, with average speeds during rush hour falling from 24.4 mph to 23.8mph.

All of the roads in the top 10 slowest commutes were in Greater London.

If this is Blackpool’s slowest road we’re pretty lucky

I had been preparing for the worst.

After being instructed to drive along Blackpool’s busiest road at 8.30 on a weekday morning, I’d packed all the essentials - emergency sandwiches, flask of Bovril, a good book, and a flare in case things really did go pear-shaped.

As it was there was really no need to fret.

I joined the A5073 (or to you and me Waterloo Road) at Marton Institute, opposite the site of the old Oxford pub.

I’d been expecting dozens of cars clogging up the street.

As it was there were three vehicles in front of me.

Hardly M25 standard.

Yet according to the Department for Transport, this stretch of road through Spen Corner and down to Lytham Road, is the second busiest in the whole of Lancashire, with drivers reaching an average speed of a measly 11.8mph.

So surely it would start clogging up soon?

Well, no, it didn’t.

Maybe I just got lucky or maybe it is because the kids aren’t quite back at school yet and thus there wasn’t the usual snarl-up caused by parents dropping their loved ones off - but I had no problems at all navigating my way along this so-called nightmare stretch of road.

Even the lights at Spen Corner were in my favour (you know the ones, five sets, which can be mighty frustrating if you’re in a rush) and, reaching a top speed of 29mph, I hit Lytham Road four minutes and 50 seconds leaving Oxford Square.

Not once did I have to beat my steering wheel or tear at my hair in frustration.

The drive was, well, really quite pleasant actually.

If this is the slowest road in Blackpool then I’d suggest we’re pretty lucky.