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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!"

Acknowledged by the Telegraph as a leading cycling journalist, John Stevenson 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 CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc editor Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com 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 TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013 and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.