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Weeks of Manchester traffic misery could be solved by cycling, say campaigners

The perfect time for a change of culture - but the council needs to stop in

Weeks of traffic misery in Manchester could easily be solved by more people cycling, say campaigners, but the urged the council that it couldn’t be done without their input.

Manchester city centre is virtually impassable thanks to roadworks and problems - including the huge hole in Mancunian Way and tram works at St Peter’s Square.

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Nick Hubble, of Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign, told the Manchester Evening News that it was the right moment to think about changing the city’s culture.

He said: “It think it’s times like this when the transport network is pushed to its limit that you need to start thinking about whether the way we do things is the right way to do things.

“When there are so many roadworks and a major route closes and everyone who travels by car is forced into a tiny space, you get these huge congestions issues.

“It’s times like this when getting on a bike makes really good sense, especially for relatively short journeys.

“People are complaining about it taking two-and-a-half hours to drive 1.5 miles home form work - it’s those journeys that we’d like to see people doing by bike.”

He added: “We need protected cycling infrastructure, we need to create a safe environment for people to ride. Agencies like Transport for Greater Manchester talk a lot about encouraging people to cycle but it’s difficult to get people to put themselves in a situation where they feel safe. The short answer to that is to build more bike lanes on all arterial routes.

“Most routes are along canals or are circuit tours - they don’t actually go where people want them to or facilitate cycling at speed that’s useful for commuting.

“We need to be looking at where people want to go, as efficiently and in as short a time as possible.”

Graeme Sherriff, from Love your Bike, said: “The current pressure on the city’s transport networks highlights the need for increased investment in attractive routes for cycling that enable people to benefit from active travel by saving money, burning calories and getting there on time.”

Rosslyn Colderley, regional director for Sustrans North West, a charity working to boost cycling in Greater Manchester, said: “The current traffic chaos in Manchester demonstrates how our city is struggling to support so many cars in the centre.

“If we had more quality bike lanes that people feel safe to cycle on, more people would choose to get around on two wheels and the city would be a cleaner, healthier, less congested place to be. we’ve seen it happen in cities like Bristol, where cycling and walking are now popular ways to commuter, and we can do this in Manchester too.

“There are lots of exciting plans to make Manchester a cycling city but if we really want more people to get fitter and healthier, then we need to make cycling more appealing and a big part of this is making the roads safer.

“To enable this to happen, the government must provide consistent long-term funding for cycling and walking to be at least 5per cent of transport spending, and a cycling and walking investment strategy that contains a long-term vision and targets, in the same way that already exists for our roads and railways.”

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester council, said: “There is no debate about the positive effect cycling can have on a city – it plays an important part in easing congested roads, improves air quality, helps reduce carbon emissions and of course improves the health of cyclists.

“While there is still work to be done, Manchester has been making huge steps toward becoming a much more accommodating city for cyclist - who are actively involved in planning thorough the Manchester Cycle Forum.

“There has been investment in new and upgraded cycle routes such as the Fallowfield Loop, while we have also worked closely with Transport for Greater Manchester to produce detailed maps of cycle routes and provide free training for people who want to get around the city by bike.

“Funding awarded by the Department of Transport is currently being used to create major improvements on routes such as Wilmslow Road, Moseley Road and Wilbraham Road, which will include installing Dutch-style cycle junctions and cycle lanes which stand free from traffic. And improvements will also be made to facilities for cyclists along Oxford Road as part of the Greater Manchester Bus Priority Project.”

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pmanc | 8 years ago

I've been to quite a few of the city council's Cycle Forum meetings. Everyone is welcome and you usually find councillors, council officers, TfGM representatives and representatives from local cycling and campaigning groups.

For a while I found the meetings quite positive, reassured by pro-utility-cycling rhetoric - the council gets it, they do care, things are getting better! And then I paused to wonder what has actually changed in the time I've been in Manchester (and attending meetings)? Even the Metrolink hoardings feature adverts about things improving for cycling. But on the road, nothing's got better and a *lot* of things are worse. Oxford Road is taking forever. Upper Brook Street is more dangerous and less pleasant than ever. The city centre is grim and showing no signs of improvement. Cycle lanes have actually been removed from St Peters Square and Princess Street. Portland Street is a nightmare with no planned provision for cycling. Developments like media-city spring up with no thought for cycling facilities (and no, I don't include the "Hubs" as improvements - the main expensive Piccadilly hub isn't even open past 17:00 at the weekend). Will NOMA be any better?

Millions spent on Metrolink and station refurbs, but cyclists are expected to live on crumbs from the table and "jam tomorrow". It's no wonder hardly anyone cycles. The lack of cycle infrastructure is bad enough, but the council's hypocrisy is salt in cyclists' wounds.

TheColster replied to pmanc | 8 years ago

I agree completely with pmanc (never made it to a meeting, but use the roads and hear the positive messages).

When roadworks are going on, it would often be simple to create a cycle route alongside but it is never done, instead diverting cyclists with other traffic, into one-way roads with very few contra-flows considered. And when the roadworks are finished, the traffic lanes often appear to have been helpfully smoothed and widened without taking the opportunity to whack in a bike lane. If they were really serious about improving the cycle network, no roadworks would ever be done without saying, "while we're there, what could we do to make it better for cycling". If they had done that over the last couple of years, we'd be well on the way...

Everything you hear from TfGM about becoming a cycle city appears to be just rhetoric, and every time I've seen a facility actually built it has been pretty terrible.

Cycling from one side of the city to the other is almost impossible legally unless you are happy with vehicular cycling, or getting off and pushing. Despite it clearly being so hard and dangerous for cyclists, the police will then still crackdown on pavement cycling via things like operation considerate.

Argos74 | 8 years ago

Ah yes. The Manchester Cycle Forum. You too can spend two hours every three months getting fobbed off with excuses and comments along the lines of "look how much money we spent" and "we'll ignore that at the next planning review".

It's not just about the money. It's about how it's spent. bikeboy76's comment about road surfaces is particularly pertinent. Also some of the "bike" stuff on Wilmslow Road is positively dangerous, and does bugger all the address the dangerous bits that are Still. Bloody. There. One small positive - the paintwork on the Moseley Road junction.

Sod 'em. Haven't used it for months. I prefer to mix it with rush hour traffic on a dual carriageway. It's faster and safer and way more fun.

Here's an open offer for TfGM. I'll take a day off work, and they can spend a day riding with me between Lapwing Lane and Deansgate. It's about twenty minutes each way, and there's coffee shops either end. Also four bike shops and a Minor Injuries Unit for running repairs. Six hours of dodging left hooks, T bones, double parking, vehicles parked in bike lanes, close passes, suicidal pedestrians, road surfaces that make you wonder if the Luftwaffe ever left, some of the most dangerous bike infrastructure since Clarkson stopped playing with Duplo, and random unannounced Uturns, doorings, and cars coming out of parking bays.

Spending priorities might adjust a little after 6 hours of that.

Accessibility f... | 8 years ago

Anyone who holds the fallowfield loop up as an example is an idiot. It's OK, but it's only half the width it needs to be and is regularly interrupted by pointless maze-like bollards. In winter, it is covered in slippery wet leaves that nobody bothers to clean up. I asked if sustrans could ask the council to sort it one year, sustrans said I should get a brush and do it myself.

Manchestercyclist replied to Accessibility for all | 8 years ago

I agree, in my opinion picking random bits of derelict land, tarmacking a yard of it and calling it a cycle lane isn't purposeful. What we need are useful lanes running to the city centre. Strangely enough exactly what's being created by the metrolink.

The difference is that cycle lanes cost very little to construct, much less to maintain and are accessible to all that can get a £15 bike.

farrell replied to Manchestercyclist | 8 years ago

I agree, in my opinion picking random bits of derelict land, tarmacking a yard of it and calling it a cycle lane isn't purposeful. What we need are useful lanes running to the city centre. Strangely enough exactly what's being created by the metrolink.

The difference is that cycle lanes cost very little to construct, much less to maintain and are accessible to all that can get a £15 bike.

Trams and Sport for Greater Manchester will not, can not, allow cycle provision to run alongside the Metrolink for one simple reason:

They wouldn't be able to deal with the complaints of passengers, who after paying astronomical amounts for their tram fare, get stuck on yet another broken down tram and have to witness people whizzing past them on bikes.

Lycra Lout | 8 years ago

I'm glad he mentioned Oxford Road. Here their plans are presented:

Manchestercyclist | 8 years ago

It's taken well over a year to start on wilmslow road and I have no confidence that it won't be parked on anyway.

GMP don't enforce any traffic violations which makes cycling more dangerous than it needs to be. The city centre is surrounded by an inner ring road that is akin to a motorway.

In addition there are some sections of society that will simply never get out of they're cara incase anyone judges them adversely.

I live in socially mixed part of Manchester and the other kids that cycle to school are the Europeans ones.meanwhile the Somalis drive (the catchment area is a third of a mile).

Leviathan | 8 years ago

I've seen the sort of cycle network they are building in Fallowfield-Withington. It features segregated lanes, which in theory sounds good, but in practice are just a series of pinch point, left hook opportunities and reasons for cyclists to have to give way. I doubt any cyclist has been consulted on this. What is worse is the money is being spent on raised curbs but zero, ZERO money has been spent on resurfacing. The road surface down Wilmslow road is shocking after years of patches and buses trashing up the edge of the road. I do not see how they can now resurface it, or if they will ever see the need to resurface the cycle lane. The whole thing is a disgusting waste of money and will not leave us with better facilities or safer ones; yet at the end if you don't use the lane motorists can point over at the cratered cycle lane and complain, why aren't you using that, look at all the money we spent on you.  102

FrankH | 8 years ago

"Nick Hubble, of Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign, told the Manchester Evening News
“People are complaining about it taking two-and-a-half hours to drive 1.5 miles home form work - it’s those journeys that we’d like to see people doing by bike.”"

I wouldn't even bother getting the bike out for that. How insane do you have to be to drive for two and a half hours when you could walk it in half an hour?

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