Work will start this month on a £54 million transport scheme in Manchester that will pave the way for parts of the city centre closed to motor traffic other than buses, taxis and emergency vehicles, while introducing segregated cycle lanes.
The works form part of what the bus priority programme drawn up by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), centred on Oxford Road, and which seeks to encourage people to reduce their car dependancy by switching to public transport or cycling and walking.
Currently, TfGM is reviewing responses to a public consultation on Oxford Road itself, but works on roads nearby will commence on 20 January.
The bus priority programme is due to be fully implemented next year, and the initial wave of roadworks will focus on Upper Brook Street, Higher Cambridge Street, Lloyd Street North, Upper Lloyd Street and Claremont Road.
According to TfGM: "The schemes include road and pavement widening and resurfacing, extended 20 mph restrictions and junction improvements. There will also be cycling, pedestrian crossing and bus stop improvements, along with better street lighting, and trees and landscaping in some areas.
"The complementary measures being introduced in surrounding neighbourhoods will support the bus priority package proposals on Oxford Road itself. These measures on Oxford Road are designed to improve bus travel and facilities for pedestrians and cyclists as well as enhancing the road's wider environment and its connections to surrounding areas."
Last year, TfGM released CGI videos that show how the proposals should look once implemented, including segregated cycle lanes that also run behind bus stops, similar to the ones Transport for London has introduced on the Stratford extension of Barclays Cycle Superhighway CS2.
Councillor Andrew Fender, who chairs the TfGM Committee, commented: “I’d like to thank local residents and businesses for bearing with us while these works take place.
"There will be some short term disruption to journeys through the area but ultimately the sustainable transport and road safety improvements will benefit Manchester for decades to come."
Councillor Kate Chappell, Manchester City Council’s executive member for the environment, added: “This work will bring huge improvements to a large number of people who use those roads, making them safer and more efficient for cyclists, motorists, pedestrians and public transport users.
"They will also support a range of important new measures which have been proposed along Oxford Road.”
Last year. Greater Manchester was awarded £20 million under the government's Cycle City Ambition Grant (CCAG) scheme to which will be added £11.1 million in local match funding.
The city's successful bid application said:
The funding will kick start Velocity 2025, which will, over time, create a city-wide cycle network. Initially, as part of the CCAG funding, this will involve a series of high quality cycle lanes that will lead from the city centre out to the M60 like spokes of a bicycle wheel. Spokes will have a Cycle and Ride station located several miles from the city centre, allowing cyclists to leave their bikes and swap onto Metrolink or a local rail service for the last leg of their journey if they wish. As part of a door to door approach the proposals involve the introduction of 20 mph zones in some residential areas adjacent to the cycle “spokes” to enable safer access to the cycleways. Greater Manchester’s vision is to double the number of cycle journeys within 5 years and to double them again by 2025. The Government funding will bring 56km of new or improved cycle paths and predicted health and wellbeing savings of around £7 million a year.
Referring to the bus priority programme, Professor John Brooks, chair of Corridor Manchester, said: “The scheme will ultimately result in increased choice and access to Oxford Road for existing staff, future workforce, students and visitors, linking with the routes to Rochdale and Leigh.”
Pete Abel, spokesman of local cycling campaign Love Your Bike, told the Manchester Evening News that while a full appraisal of the plans could only be given once they had been finalised, the scheme should make conditions safer for cyclists, but he would like to see safety improved elsewhere too.
He said: “If the council and TfGM want more people on the roads they have to make them safer. This will be initially on Oxford Road but hopefully ultimately across the city.”
TfGM is holding a drop-in session at Asda Hulme this Thursday 16 January from 12 noon to 5pm so the public can see the plans and ask questions about them.
More details of the proposals can be found on the TfGM website.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.