Dutch-style cycle lane planned for Manchester's Oxford Road in major revamp

Public consultation opens next week into overhaul of busy thoroughfare as part of TfGM's Bus Priority scheme

by Simon_MacMichael   May 15, 2013  

Manchester Oxford Road cycle lane (source TfGM)

Transport for Greater Manchester is planning to introduce segregated cycle lanes along a one-mile stretch of the city’s busy Oxford Road, under proposals for a major revamp of the thoroughfare that will be open for public consultation from next Wednesday 22 May until Wednesday 26 June.

The scheme, which forms part of TfGM’s Cross City Bus Priority initiative, aims to give precedence to buses, pedestrians and cyclists along Oxford Road and includes bust stop islands with a cycle lane running behind them, similar to those that Transport for London plans to install as part of its revamp of Stratford High Street.

TfGM says that it intends to restrict access to some sections of Oxford Road to buses, taxis, emergency vehicles and bicycles, the latter using Dutch-style cycle lanes, while junctions and road crossings will be improved for pedestrians, who will also get wider pavements.

Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM’s Committee said: “With traffic levels rising, it’s crucial that we make sure people can easily get around our city by more sustainable transport – in this case, by bus, bike or on foot.

“The bus priority package is one of the largest investments in the Greater Manchester bus network in decades.

“Giving buses priority will allow bus operators to introduce services that cross through the city centre free from traffic, without need for passengers to change service.

“Oxford Road is one of the busiest bus routes in Europe and we want it to offer a European style travel experience, not just for bus passengers, but pedestrians and cyclists.

“I encourage everyone who lives, works in or travels through our city centre to take a look at these plans and have their say.”

Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Environment, added: “The city is growing and we need to make sure that our transport system supports this growth.

“These plans will boost investment along the routes and support emerging business and commercial centres. They allow full access to businesses along the route and general traffic will be accommodated on other parallel routes.

“The changes we are proposing are essential to delivering a more sustainable transport system connecting people with employment, education, health, leisure and shopping and providing real alternatives to the car.”

Details of the consultation will be available online from next Wednesday 22 May, and leaflets will also be distributed within Manchester city centre and to 40,000 properties in the area affected.

Recently, Transport for Greater Manchester submitted its bit for £20 million of Cycle City Ambition funding towards its Vélocity 2025 project. Here’s a short video of its plans.

33 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

"bust stop islands"
snigger....

But seriously, would this make cycling on the road illegal? would all cyclists have to ride down the cycle lane?

posted by ir_bandito [59 posts]
15th May 2013 - 12:39

9 Likes

In my experience, this sort of design encourages lots of cyclists to use the lane when going in the wrong direction - being off the road gives people an entirely misplaced sense that they are safe, no matter how stupidly they behave ...

posted by bambergbike [87 posts]
15th May 2013 - 13:22

9 Likes

Animal wrote:
notfastenough is correct

Waste of money. Just another gerrofftheroad scheme.

And one mile? What use is it anyway?

How about they just ENFORCE THE LAWS?????

Whilst I agree that one mile is hopeless (the key to Dutch style infrastructure is that it is a coherent network that's faster and more direct than the routes cars are allowed to use), it isn't a "gerrofftheroad" shceme- the picture clearly shows that cycles are explicitly allowed in the bus/taxi lane.

posted by Al__S [562 posts]
15th May 2013 - 13:32

8 Likes

That design will never work in the UK.

There is a perfectly good road to use, why they insist on trying to force riders off it I will never know.

posted by northstar [1106 posts]
15th May 2013 - 13:43

7 Likes

Unless this mile in is in Rusholme and will see a clamp down on shite parking and driving then it really doesn't solve the problems of the Oxford Road/Wilmslow Road corridor.

Emperor's new road layout is all it is.

posted by farrell [1485 posts]
15th May 2013 - 14:39

12 Likes

Cross-referencing with street view, that picture seems to be the junction with Grafton Street, outside Oxfam, facing NW.

At the moment, that's the exact point where a dedicated cycle path starts up, going as far as Rusholme, half a mile to the SE. I doubt they'll put the path through Rusholme, as the road's too narrow, so the other half a mile will probably go NW to Booth Street, or if they're not just refurbing the existing path, then it could go as far as Whitworth Street.

The cycle path that currently exists is a good example of how these things can go a bit wonky, as the students walk all over it, and the Rusholme end of it is a confusing mess.

spatuluk's picture

posted by spatuluk [27 posts]
15th May 2013 - 15:43

9 Likes

Let us hope this is a scheme that promises little and over delivers. However, it may promise little and deliver less. Only time and the removal of hyperbole will tell which it is

THE ONLY WAY IS BIKE

posted by lushmiester [156 posts]
15th May 2013 - 17:18

8 Likes

posted by farrell [1485 posts]
15th May 2013 - 17:33

8 Likes

comedy waste of money.

posted by andyp [923 posts]
15th May 2013 - 18:22

8 Likes

That's not a plan. That's an ad agency's damp sock. Taking non-taxi/bus traffic off Oxford Road is not going to fly, and having a bus/taxi/cycle lane, and a seperate gerofftheroad segregated cycle lane is this year's Stupid Entry for the Turner Prize. New Strava segment back to drawing board is needed.

And in any event, it's not Oxford Road that's the problem. It's the curry mile section (get the resurfacing done, take out the loading bays, make it no stopping and I think we're done there - no cycle lane, just more dedicated road and less opportunity for drivers to be stupid) and the rest of Wilmslow Road, unless there is an easy and safe route to turn right into Moss Lane East, and then south through Upper Lloyd Street or the back streets.

posted by Argos74 [295 posts]
15th May 2013 - 18:53

4 Likes

I'm an experienced cyclist and tend to use the road, often when cycle facilities are available, because it's quicker and, as pointed out, avoids other *ahem* 'hazards'(I've talked about that stretch of cycle path on Oxford Road elsewhere - useless ending at Rusholme indeed, but the rest would be quite useful, were it not for the hordes of studes blithely strolling along it at all times).

Still, any progress is progress, even if it's cosmetic or a bit daft-looking. I was down in London today and one of the most striking things that's happened to the city in the 3 1/2 years since I left is the sheer volume of cyclists now on the roads - and yet I seem to remember at the time everyone saying that all the blue paint etc. was a waste of money.

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [1098 posts]
15th May 2013 - 18:56

6 Likes

If there are no cars just buses and the odd taxi I will be happy to cruise up the middle of the lane. So any 'Dutch' lane is a waste of space to me.



Suffering from Low Cadence.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1316 posts]
15th May 2013 - 23:21

10 Likes

I wish the people who promise a "European" cycling experience would go to Munich or Frankfurt and ask the engineers there why they are phasing out these old and completely useless designs in favour of new ones like marking new on-road lanes, or designating quiet parallel streets as "bicycle streets" where all other traffic gives way to bikes. Even without zombie pedestrians and wrong-way zombie cyclists on mobile phones etc., the capacity of a lane like this is not adequate for mass cycling.

posted by bambergbike [87 posts]
16th May 2013 - 0:30

10 Likes

The comments here are depressingly full of cycling enthusiasts moaning about being forced off the road.

Well open your eyes and brains and think about others for a minute. Cycling is not banned from the road and the point is to draw more people into cycling as a mass transport not cater for minority enthusiasts. The vast majority of people who would like to commute and shop by bike do not do so because the current situation scares them off and no amount of 'taking the lane' training will help.

I agree there are likely to be issues with this and it's not perfect (and too short) but the powers that be needed a lot of persuading not to just leave it as a cycle lane cut across by busses at every stop on one of the busiest bus corridors in Europe ie the same shit system that is there right now and which makes this stretch of road unbearable.

And for the record I would place myself in the enthusiast old school camp as a rider but realise we need cycling to be available to all not just 'cyclists'.

posted by Cranky Acid [38 posts]
16th May 2013 - 9:15

7 Likes

Hey guess what. It's probably not ALL ABOUT YOU.

posted by Cranky Acid [38 posts]
16th May 2013 - 9:16

7 Likes

Cranky Acid wrote:

Well open your eyes and brains and think about others for a minute. Cycling is not banned from the road and the point is to draw more people into cycling as a mass transport not cater for minority enthusiasts. The vast majority of people who would like to commute and shop by bike do not do so because the current situation scares them off and no amount of 'taking the lane' training will help.

Having seen people get hassled for remaining on the road rather than taking the circuitous Whitworth Park path, I understand the misgivings.

But let's hold TfGMs feet to the fire and make this a decent facility that *all* of us can get some use out of.

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

John_the_Monkey's picture

posted by John_the_Monkey [421 posts]
16th May 2013 - 9:20

9 Likes

Ghedebrav wrote:
I'm an experienced cyclist and tend to use the road, often when cycle facilities are available, because it's quicker and, as pointed out, avoids other *ahem* 'hazards'(I've talked about that stretch of cycle path on Oxford Road elsewhere - useless ending at Rusholme indeed, but the rest would be quite useful, were it not for the hordes of studes blithely strolling along it at all times).

I'm an experienced cyclist, and I use the path there, after a frank exchange of views with a bus driver some years ago, in which he made it clear that he regarded cyclists using the road to have surrendered any right to safety, or consideration.

TBH, in a 12 mile journey, it amounts to bugger all inconvenience/delay, and that's with me pottering along being nice to pedestrians too. And it's less, er, interesting than taking the road can be. Although things have improved a great deal lately, I've seen a lot of "punishment driving" around cyclists that stay on the road - not sure why, as no one is going anywhere above walking pace once they hit Rusholme anyway.

as for the new thing - make sure minicabs & delivery vehicles don't park up in it (Fallowfield off road "facility", I'm looking at you) and I daresay it'll get enough use to keep it clear of ambling peds.

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

John_the_Monkey's picture

posted by John_the_Monkey [421 posts]
16th May 2013 - 9:21

7 Likes

The give way point is a good one.

My (limited) understanding is that cyclist will not have to give way. The difficulty will be that pedestrians will zombie walk and as this type of scheme is not common practice in the UK it will take longer (or never happen) for pedestrians to learn to look before crossing.

The detail of how the pedestrian path crosses the cycle lane will be very important but it will also be necessary for users to understand this isn't a fast superhighway for bikes it's a safe space to encourage new people to use a bike to get around and relieve the tension for those who use the road currently.

As with so many of these attempts to provide cycling infrastructure; the devil will be in the detail.

posted by Cranky Acid [38 posts]
16th May 2013 - 9:26

9 Likes

"let's hold TfGMs feet to the fire and make this a decent facility that *all* of us can get some use out of"

Agree completely. I'm not a flag waver for TfGM but all the knee jerk reactions against smack of self interested groups of enthusiasts not interested in the needs of the vast majority of people out there who are interested in cycling but scared off.

posted by Cranky Acid [38 posts]
16th May 2013 - 9:34

6 Likes

I'm with Cranky Acid on all of the above. As someone who has cycled daily for many years I choose to use the existing cycle-path opposite the hospital despite its failings (poorly marked so full of pedestrians, terrible treatment at the Denmark Road turning). Although I don't use it if I'm heading south and staying on Wilmslow Road.

These changes look like a vast improvement and as pointed out, no-one will be forced to use the cycle-path. I know TfGM don't have a great track-record on cycle infra and of course it's a shame the Curry Mile will still be a death-trap - the new scheme only goes as far south as Hathersage Road - but this looks like a good effort.

By way of background for those who don't know the area, this road is commonly described as "the busiest bus route in Europe" and it's believable, but presently most of this section is shared bus/bike lane (because double-deckers and bikes are so similar). So, despite it being home to the biggest uni in the country (as well as the fourth biggest), with the main student accommodation a couple of flat miles away, hardly any students cycle. Most of them take the bus, and one of them - a keen cyclist - told me that's because riding down Oxford Road "you take your life in your hands".

And yes, confident-road-rider-mixing-it-up-with-the-congested-traffic, it's not just about you.

posted by pmanc [123 posts]
16th May 2013 - 10:25

7 Likes

Crank Acid, you make good points and I don't disagree that it's the mainstreaming of cycling for transport that this is aimed at. My concern is that once this is in place, there is a risk that drivers will be less tolerant of those of us that choose to use the road rather than the path. Amongst rush-hour pedestrians, I wouldn't be happy riding that path at more than maybe 10mph - great as you say, for the masses that ought to be cycling.

So in summary, I'm not suggesting it's all about me - I'm suggesting that other road users will think that one size fits all, when that's not the case.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3251 posts]
16th May 2013 - 10:38

6 Likes

bambergbike wrote:
the capacity of a lane like this is not adequate for mass cycling.

Nice problem to have though

posted by Cranky Acid [38 posts]
16th May 2013 - 10:48

4 Likes

notfastenough wrote:
.. I don't disagree that it's the mainstreaming of cycling for transport that this is aimed at. My concern is that once this is in place, there is a risk that drivers will be less tolerant of those of us that choose to use the road rather than the path. Amongst rush-hour pedestrians, I wouldn't be happy riding that path at more than maybe 10mph - great as you say, for the masses that ought to be cycling.

So in summary, I'm not suggesting it's all about me - I'm suggesting that other road users will think that one size fits all, when that's not the case.

However it's these arguments that have left us where we are today. Arguments once supported by the CTC but now rejected, or at least sidelined.

I agree that one size does not fit all but the present situation suits nobody and I would hazard a guess that a Vehicular Cyclist like yourself (?) and indeed me who is capable of (and possibly even quite enjoys) asserting their rights against several tons of steel every day will continue to do so in a way that kids and parents who just want an alternative never will.

posted by Cranky Acid [38 posts]
16th May 2013 - 10:59

8 Likes

This might work. It might get a few more people cycling. But as soon as that happens, the cycle facility will very, very rapidly be operating at maximum capacity. Especially so given that cyclists and pedestrians tend to forget their "road sense" when not actually on a road.

Cyclists are not like cars that all trundle along at much the same speed. Some go fast, some go very, very slow. So any cycle facility needs to be wide enough to accomodate lots of overtaking, especially of people towing or carrying children, tools, goods or luggage. Urban roads with 20 mph speed limits make excellent cycling facilities in this respect.

It isn't realistic to expect faster cyclists to use the road while slower ones share the path with the zombie pedestrians. Drivers will see the path, decide that all cyclists should be on it and hassle the cyclists who don't use it, so some fast cyclists will be deterred from using the road, maybe after a near miss.

Ultimately, what is different in "Europe" does not all boil down to design. Behaviour and the standards set for it are important. Aggressive drivers in Germany get sued for things like splashing pedestrians. Zombie pedstrians get sued when they stray onto cycle paths and cause cyclists to fall.

Obviously some designs work better than others and it is valuable to look at diffferent ones, but the main problem with this road in its current state might be the uncivilized fashion it is currently used in. Changing the layout without improving behaviour standards may just shift problems around - say by creating fewer conflicts at bus stops, but more at junctions.

posted by bambergbike [87 posts]
16th May 2013 - 14:22

6 Likes

Cranky Acid wrote:
bambergbike wrote:
the capacity of a lane like this is not adequate for mass cycling.

Nice problem to have though

I see where you're coming from - mass cycling does sound like a pipe dream in some places.

I live in a German town that has a modal share of around 25% and loads of relatively outdated cycling infrastructure. The places with dedicated infrastructure are often much more dangerous than other places where there is none or modern infrastructure that keeps cyclists on-road.

Munich is similar, but on a grander scale - really dicey infrastructure that took decades to build is now gradually being dismantled. It simply led to too many accidents once the modal share hit 20% and the capacity was no longer adequate. Freiburg is another similar case - what worked (sort of) when it was built in the 80s is not fit for purpose now and the new message is that cyclists belong on the road.

Is it really necessary to spend thirty years building dangerous infrastructure which gives people a subjective feeling of safety in order to get numbers up to the point where it becomes necessary to take it all away again because its capacity is so hopelessly limited? Is there really no other way of increasing numbers?

Just by way of clarification: I wouldn't describe actual Dutch infrastructure as built by Dutch engineers as dangerous. But copies of it elsewhere ...

posted by bambergbike [87 posts]
16th May 2013 - 15:07

8 Likes

bambergbike wrote:
Just by way of clarification: I wouldn't describe actual Dutch infrastructure as built by Dutch engineers as dangerous. But copies of it elsewhere ...

So you're saying only the Dutch can do decent bike-specific infra and that's the way it will always be, even if we make a good job of following their examples and get their help? We're stuck with 2% of journeys by bike, and kids and pensioners will always be exluded from cycling here (anywhere outside center parcs)?

Because the Dutch certainly aren't closing cycle paths and putting cyclists back in amongst fast busy motor traffic. Check out this bridge... and consider me jealous.

Do you have any links to back up your comments that German cycle infrastructure is considered dangerous and the Germans are giving up on the idea?

posted by pmanc [123 posts]
16th May 2013 - 16:19

8 Likes

pmanc wrote:

Do you have any links to back up your comments that German cycle infrastructure is considered dangerous and the Germans are giving up on the idea?

My point - I may not have made it very clearly - was that the Germans are increasingly moving away from off-carriageway infrastructure and towards putting cyclists on the road (in urban contexts). There is a portal site with information on current German design guidance here:
http://www.nationaler-radverkehrsplan.de/

It's cautiously worded - the powers that be aren't going to admit outright that they have come round to the campaigners' point of view - but it's revealing all the same.

To quote from one of those documents (http://www.nationaler-radverkehrsplan.de/en/transferstelle/downloads/cye...):

"Active press and PR work must be used to inform the
public why it is often safer for cyclists to ride on the carriageway than on old, unsafe off-carriageway cycle facilities. It is crucial to address the reservations of motor vehicle drivers as well as experienced cyclists that have grown accustomed to off-carriageway cycling."

My point about capacity is contained in the same document:

"Where space is lacking, the default option is to
provide on-carriageway facilities rather than a separated cycle path of poor quality. Given the increases in
cycle traffic, cycling facilities introduced today should
also be able to meet future demand, making costly investments at a later stage unnecessary."

Space is often lacking in urban contexts. In rural contexts, where vehicle speeds are likely to be higher, stretches of road between junctions longer, and space less of a consideration, segregated facilities still make perfect sense and are very popular with many cyclists.

pmanc wrote:

So you're saying only the Dutch can do decent bike-specific infra and that's the way it will always be, even if we make a good job of following their examples and get their help?

Dutch-style facilities can obviously be built anywhere the political will to do so exists. That is usually the case where doing things that genuinely benefit cyclists is a clear vote-catcher. That implies that there are enough people already cycling that can tell the difference between something that benefits cycling and something that makes drivers happy, say by removing cyclists from the carriageway and removing priority at side roads from cyclists. In the UK and Ireland, it can, at times, be easier to marshall example of schemes that call themselves "Dutch" than schemes that actually adhere to Dutch design guidelines. This is an Irish example:

http://cyclingindublin.com/2013/03/14/royal-canal-greenway-ramp-double-d...

David Hembrow has lots of excellent posts on various UK misinterpretations of Dutch guidance, and also on the willingness of the Dutch to spend serious money on cycling.

The European Cycling Federation had a press release recently about how Germany might be a more useful model for the UK and Ireland than Holland and possibly Denmark precisely because it isn't a country that has already had a high modal share and very good infrastructure and drivers who think like cyclists for decades already. German cities, rather, are "on the jump" - they have recently seen big increases in the number of people who cycle, from a low base - and that's what I hope will happen in the UK and Ireland, too. That document is here:

http://www.ecf.com/news/cycling-solutions-why-germany-has-all-the-answers/

posted by bambergbike [87 posts]
16th May 2013 - 19:45

7 Likes

bambergbike wrote:

It isn't realistic to expect faster cyclists to use the road while slower ones share the path with the zombie pedestrians. Drivers will see the path, decide that all cyclists should be on it and hassle the cyclists who don't use it, so some fast cyclists will be deterred from using the road, maybe after a near miss.

Essentially what happens now then?

I see punishment passes of people who don't take to the path by Oxfam/Whitworth Park pretty regularly. The difference is that the facility in that case is meandering and indirect - heading towards Rusholme, in particular, it's somewhat better going into the city, admittedly, although a bit interesting at funfair time.

TfGM haven't built this yet - so it's a chance to say "Please make it wider" "maintain it properly" and so on. It's also a chance to fold our arms and declare that it'll never work, ever, of course.

--
"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

John_the_Monkey's picture

posted by John_the_Monkey [421 posts]
16th May 2013 - 20:53

7 Likes

bambergbike wrote:
pmanc wrote:
Do you have any links to back up your comments that German cycle infrastructure is considered dangerous and the Germans are giving up on the idea?
My point - I may not have made it very clearly - was that the Germans are increasingly moving away from off-carriageway infrastructure and towards putting cyclists on the road (in urban contexts)...

I'm not being deliberately obtuse here, but the problem here seems to be that the cycle specific facilities in question are "old" or "poor quality", and then you appear to be moving on to say that on-carriageway infrastructure is the best alternative. Why not "newer" or "better-quality" facilities? One reason given is the lack of space in an urban environment. The PDF you link to doesn't appear to write off segregated paths altogether, but it does seem, to me, to be badly misguided. The use of the term "protection lane" appears to describe a lane which offers no protection (since cars are allowed to drive in it)? FFS. If the space exists for cars then surely it exists for bikes? It just depends on your priorities. And surely, if you're pushed for space, prioritising smaller lighter forms of traffic which pollute less is a good idea?

We all know that most people will not regularly cycle sharing a carriageway with motor vehicles over a certain speed or volume, and all the "active press and PR work" in the world won't convince them otherwise. Like these people who keenly go on bikeability courses only to cycle home on the pavements afterwards and sadly lock the bike away in the shed again for another decade. The photos in that ECF article do not show cyclists next to lorries. Wouldn't it be a shame if, having seen a dramatic increase in the modal share of cycling, German cities force all the cyclists into the traffic and put everybody off again.

posted by pmanc [123 posts]
17th May 2013 - 10:57

8 Likes

pmanc wrote:

We all know that most people will not regularly cycle sharing a carriageway with motor vehicles over a certain speed or volume.


Absolutely. A blanket speed limit of 20 mph or 30 kph in urban areas (properly enforced and supported by cyclist-friendly traffic-calming measures) would be hugely helpful. So would a big clampdown on dangerous overtaking.

I also fully agree with you that "protection lanes" or "advisory lanes" are rubbish. In Germany they seem to work, more or less. Cars have enough room to overtake cyclists properly, and lorries and buses usually wait behind cyclists until it is safe to pass. But they probably work despite rather than because of the design - I've certainly seen helmet camera videos of advisory lanes not working very well in Dublin (close passes by high-sided vehicles). If cyclists and large vehicles are sharing the carriageway and there isn't enough space for a large vehicle to overtake a cyclist safely, I think "share the road" bicycle "sharrows" work better than lines that wrongly suggest that there is space for large motor vehicles to overtake.

I cited official German guidance to show general trends, but that's not to say that I (or most German cycle campaigners) find it all good. I'm just enthused by the increasing reliance on on-carriageway provision because it seems to result in facilities that are more comfortable and convenient to use.

I cycled across town and today and at one point I had a choice:
I could use a (mostly) on-carriageway cycle lane on a road used by cars, trucks and buses. Or I could use a quieter road designated as a "bicycle street", meaning that cars are only allowed use it at bicycle speeds and must yield to cycle traffic. The latter road is also "residents only", I think. There is on-street car parking, but not much traffic. Both of these solutions reflect strands of current German thinking, as they both cross bridges that have just been rebuilt; neither facility is outdated.

I opted to use the busier road with no physical separation from motor vehicles beyond a white line(marked with stone rater than paint, but not raised). Even though it was a longer route, it was still more convenient: better sightlines, no zombie pedestrians, no on-street car parking, no clumsy street furniture, no need to use my brakes or my bell.

posted by bambergbike [87 posts]
17th May 2013 - 19:04

6 Likes