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New cycle lane in Manchester's Portland Street removed amid safety concerns

Campaigners say their warnings of danger posed by buses were ignored

A cycle lane in Manchester city centre has been concreted over only seven weeks after it was installed after cycling campaigners said it made conditions more dangerous and “sandwiched” cyclists between buses.

The lane, on Portland Street, formed part of a multi-million pound initiative aimed at making the city’s roads safer for people on bikes – but as shown in these images posted to Twitter in March, buses make them impossible to use.

Campaigners say their concerns about cyclists being squeezed between buses were ignored at the consultation stage, while the leader of the city council has also criticised new cycling facilities elsewhere in the city, reports the Manchester Evening News.

Nick Hubble from the Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign (GMCC) told the newspaper: “Although GMCC and others raised very legitimate concerns over the proposed design at the planning and consultation stage, these were largely ignored and the scheme was built in full awareness that it would put cyclists at risk.

 “However, once built the council quickly realised that cyclists’ concerns were justified.

"Within a few weeks of the road reopening, a dangerous stretch of cycle lane that forced people to ride between a bus lay-by and a bus lane at the Oxford Road junction was removed, and this weekend a stretch with the same design outside Dawsons music shop has similarly been painted out.

 “We urge the council to take the lessons learned from this debacle forward and in future only to implement designs that will truly balance the needs of people on buses, in cars, on foot and on bikes,” he added.

The cycle lane was installed as part of the Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) bus priority scheme, which also includes segregated cycling facilities being put in place on Oxford Road, which link to the Wilmlsow Road Cycleway.

But earlier this week, the leader of the city council, Sir Richard Leese, said on Twitter: “Just cycled from Town Hall to Didsbury and back using new cycle paths on Wilmslow Road. Not a pleasant experience.”

Shortly after the Portland Street cycle lane was completed in March, Manchester City Council’s executive member for environment, councillor Kate Chappell, said it had been “designed to ensure buses and cyclists can use the road safely,” and acknowledged road users, whose feedback she invited, would need time to get used to the changes.

Following the decision to scrap the lane, she said: “Removing this section of cycle lane was a simple change that we feel provides more flexibility for cyclists and drivers at a point in the highway where bikes and buses interact closely.

“Portland Street will be monitored continually to observe how the changes to the highway are bedding in,” she added.

“Further up Portland Street, near Newton Street and Piccadilly for example, we are working with TfGM to address the issue of buses obstructing the cycle lane when stopping for passengers."

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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