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‘Do less, but better’ is advice from campaign group

Plans to create 37 miles of cycle routes in Greater Manchester have come in for strong criticism from local campaign group, Love Your Bike, reports the Manchester Evening News. Cheetham Hill plans have been described as ‘diabolical’ while dangers have also been highlighted on the Prestwich route.

Four cycle paths have been proposed around Manchester Airport, Prestwich, Wilmslow Road and Cheetham Hill with three more planned for Salford, Stockport, and the Bridgewater and Ashton Canals. Pete Abel from Love Your Bike reserved his strongest criticism for the Cheetham Hill route.

“The Cheetham Hill plans are diabolical, it’s not a route – it’s just green lines in two places. That is poor.

“We do not feel this meets any of the criteria outlined in the Cycle City bid. It’s not ambitious. We don’t understand the rationale for the route – it’s like they are trying to stretch too far – what we are saying is you could do less but better.”

A council spokesman defended the plans, however.

“The Cheetham Hill Road proposal aims to make the best use of available highway infrastructure to start forming a link between north Manchester and the city centre.

“We have worked closely with cycling groups throughout the process of design on all of the Better By Cycle routes and will be continuing to ask cyclists and other members of the public for their input on these and other proposals to develop and improve our cycling network.”

Abel also said that a stretch of the Prestwich route around Queens Road and Oldham Road would be dangerous, as would a section from Brooks Drive to Floats Road on the airport route. “The whole point was to produce safe, protected routes for people to encourage more people to cycle and some parts of these plans don’t do that.”

Manchester will benefit from the next wave of Cycle City funding, but the city’s largest cycling club, Manchester Wheelers, has said that if past history is anything to go by, this investment could actually make the city less safe for cyclists.

Greater Manchester's bid document said facilities would be built “in accordance with the core Vélocity 2025 objective of providing largely segregated cycle facilities to cater for the full range of cyclists" but Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign (GMCC) is unhappy at the use of the funding for shared-space schemes and has described the level of ambition as ‘low’.

Sustrans are yet another group to have weighed in, saying that the Bridgewater and Ashton canal routes feature pinch points and other weaknesses. They feel the plans lack aspiration.

Abel is critical of how projects were funded, pointing to the fact that money was allocated before plans were drawn up.

“If the government were serious they would say ‘work up a scheme and tell us how much you need’. It’s like this process builds in failure. It’s good the money is there – it just needs to be done better because we want to see the best possible scheme.

“People we talk to say we love to cycle but we don’t feel safe around Manchester. So if you want people to cycle, that’s what you have to deliver.”

Love Your Bike’s detailed response to the Velocity 2025 plans for the Prestwich and airport routes can be found here. The organisation feels that both routes are stretching too far and reiterates that it would like to see designs that deliver less, better.

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