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Manchester plans protected lanes and more with extra Cycle City funding

Advocates cautiously welcome plans for improvements to major cycle route

With an extra £22 million to spend on cycling infrastructure after yesterday's announcement of a second round of Cycle City Ambition funding, Manchester stands a chance of ending up with a decent cycling network. The first renderings of how the city's Wilmslow Road might look have cycling advocates cautiously optimistic.

The extra funding means Manchester has £42 million to spend on cycling facilities, and is set to build 100km of cycle lanes around the city.

Renderings of the flagship Wilmslow Road project, along a route that carries 2,000 riders per day, show fully kerb-protected cycle lanes on both sides of the street; a floating bus stop; and even enough space between bike lanes and parking spaces to prevent riders from getting doored when people get out of their cars.

Gapped kerbs protect cycle lanes

The schemes around the city will also feature various other types of protection, such as the gapped kerbs above, and off-highway routes across parks will be upgraded to all-weather, tarred surfaces.

Greater Manchester Council needed some convincing of the merits of that idea, according to Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign.

When the consultation for the new plans was announced, the cycling advocacy organisation tweeted: "Has taken some effort to get to this stage, suggestion for lanes between parking and pavement met with astonishment 1yr ago!"

Previous plans for cycling infrastructure in Manchester have been slammed by advocates as inadequate or as the spending of cycling funds on facilities for busses.

Off-highway routes will be tarred for a smoother ride

They're dancing in the streets just yet either. GM Cycling Campaign tweeted: "Scepticism is valid re #cycling infra, esp given previous half-hearted attempts."

Nevertheless, the Manchester Evening News reports that city transport chiefs insist the planned routes will revolutionise cycling in the city.

Councillor Andrew Fender, chairman of the TfGM Committee, said: “This is great news that will allow us to build upon the fantastic work already under way to make cycling a mainstream option for everyone, regardless of age or ability.

“We have set ourselves an ambitious target – 10 per cent of all journeys to be made by bicycle by 2025 – and the next phase of our Cycle City programme will play a crucial part in achieving it.

“The funding announced today will allow us to build on our established ‘Better By Cycle’ programme of training, information and improvements to cycle facilities.

“The revolution has begun, and we’re building fantastic momentum towards our goal.”

Consultation has opened on the Wilmslow Road route

The next step is a consultation period on the plans for Wilmslow Road, and support from the area's businesses will be crucial.

GM Cycling Campaign tweeted that the changes would make the area "more pleasant to visit. Lots of evidence to say traders should be VERY happy".

They said: "Campaigners should put time aside to help convince traders this will be a huge opportunity for them."

The project must be finished by September, according to GM Cycling Campaign. "Start date will depend on consultation responses - hope they're mostly supportive!"

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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P3t3 | 9 years ago

Love that they appear to be trying to do this properly, BUT:

Forget the bus stop bypasses - from my little skim through the glaring problem with this is that they have done nothing to make the major junctions safer The cycle tracks end and thats it - youre back in the mix waiting to get left hooked.

The kerb lines on some of the side roads look a little sketchy too, the gentle radii for cars will be fast but the cyclists are sheperded into acute angles giving them even worse over the shoulder visibilty. No word on how the priority will be on these junctions..

ribena | 9 years ago

The bus stop cycle lane bypass are already used in London and Brighton without issue.

notfastenough | 9 years ago

I can well understand that this will be great for those lacking speed and/or confidence. Surely a step forwards. However, I can't see myself bowling along that at 22mph. The pedestrians crossing it will be fun to avoid.. Which is fine, except for the abuse I'll get for daring to use the road.

Regarding the parked cars, will the cycle lane not be right where the baby buggy/shopping/kids are left for a minute while mum/dad gets everyone in/out?

colin2012 | 9 years ago

The cycle lane behind the bus stop makes me despair, the conflict with pedestrians is guaranteed. Creating an obstacle course doesn't help anybody.
The money would be much better spent removing all the crazy bits of cycle path from the whole length of Wilmslow Road not adding even more.
The best improvement for cyclists would be to fill in all the pot holes, they are so bad that sections are becoming unrideable.

JonD replied to colin2012 | 9 years ago
colin2012 wrote:

The cycle lane behind the bus stop makes me despair, the conflict with pedestrians is guaranteed. Creating an obstacle course doesn't help anybody.

Vs conflict with busses trying to pull in ? Your solution is what, exactly ?

They seem to manage elsewhere in Denmark and the Netherlands - plus tram stops are frequently further out from the pavement, or in the centre of the road. People get used to it.

colin2012 replied to JonD | 9 years ago
JonD][quote=colin2012 wrote:

The cycle lane behind the bus stop makes me despair, the conflict with pedestrians is guaranteed. Creating an obstacle course doesn't help anybody.

Vs conflict with busses trying to pull in ? Your solution is what, exactly ?

These crazy designs are solutions to problems that shouldn't exist in the first place. Buses should use a standard lay-by, the policy of recent years of filling all the lay-bys in just creates traffic chaos. Simple solution is to not have any of these utterly pointless cycle lanes and use all the money to fill in the pot holes. The junction at Moseley Road was far safer before the cycle lane was introduced, now you are forced up a kerb onto the pavement and into the pedestrians.

pmanc replied to colin2012 | 9 years ago
colin2012 wrote:

Buses should use a standard lay-by...

But then the path of the bus and the bike still crosses back and forth all the way into (or out of) town. Busiest bus route in Europe remember. The phenomenon is sometimes called leapfrogging. Have you never been hemmed in by a long line of buses all trying to squeeze into the same stop? Not nice.

Bus stop bypasses work perfectly well on the continent and even in some locations in the UK (as posted by others). These cycleways should be wide enough for overtaking, and I would rather be temporarily stuck behind a slightly slower moving cyclist than a stationary car/van parked in the cycle lane as happens presently.

levermonkey | 9 years ago

There are fundamental problems with all these grandiose cycling infrastructure plans.

The biggest of all being the massive difference between the 'artist's impression' and the finished article that actually gets built. Things get omitted on the grounds of cost or pressure from other groups but, right up to the last minute (and often after it is built) the original artists impression is still trotted out.

Secondly after these projects are built you then come across another problem: No budget is allocated for maintenance and cleaning. After a year these facilities are a rubbish and broken-glass bestrewn obstacle course. They also make a handy place for roadwork's signs, repair of broken-down vehicles and for Police cars to sit.

And, thirdly. These projects suck in all the cycling budget leaving nothing for other schemes.

Lots of small schemes spread over a larger area will have a greater (if less headline grabbing) benefit to a greater number of cyclists than these big schemes. I am of course talking about restricting parking, permeability, good cycle parking, closing rat-runs and keeping & improving existing infrastructure. Obviously this is not an exhaustive list but you get the idea.

Argos74 | 9 years ago

Pictures look like bloody Toyland. I'm fully expecting PC Plod to leap out at Baa Bar to taser me and tell me to wear hiviz and a helmet. Also Noddy and Big Ears to be having it away in the bushes in Whitfield Park.


"support from the area's businesses will be crucial."


"Lots of evidence to say traders should be VERY happy".

The previously announced Oxford Road changes are going to be complete carnage. Doing all of Wilmslow Road all the way down to East Didsbury would wipe out one of the major transport routes (and busiest bus route in Europe) into central Manchester for at least 3 months. Possibly longer if they do it piecemeal.

So... good luck with getting buy in from businesses in the area. There would be a long term pay off, but in the short term, there'll be opposition. And plenty of it.

Plenty of low hanging fruit to take first before tens of millions get spent on this. Fill in the parking bays in the Curry Mile (road narrowing or widening - don't mind which as long as it stops me getting doored and wiped out by random unannounced U turns), scrub out the stupid and evil southbound shared pavement/off road cycle lanes directly north and south of the Mosley / Wilbraham Road junction, and get the road surface back up to scratch. Tough job with that many buses on it, but worth doing.

That, and get some traffic cops on the road. Preferably unmarked, on bikes and with cameras. Biggest danger on Wilmslow Road ain't the infrastructure.

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