Manchester cycle campaigners have produced a spoof promotional video of Manchester’s Exchange Square to highlight flaws with some of the cycle infrastructure around the brand new tram line.
Hailing Manchester’s “integrated, multi-modal transport network” the video, produced by Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign, complete with RP English voiceover, nonetheless has a serious message about the dangers posed by cycle infrastructure that crosses tram tracks and is shared with bus and car traffic, and in places stops suddenly.
Exchange Square has a station on the first part of Manchester’s new Metrolink Second City Crossing tram line, part of a £1bn investment programme, which was fast-tracked thanks to a European grant. The new tram stop was opened in December, part of a plan to move the city's rapidly growing population.
The video narrator hails cycle routes “designed with the very latest in paint technology, with tram tracks to guide you on your way.”
At one point a woman is filmed cycling into a bike lane that ends suddenly with a kerb. “Oh look, a handy layby if you need to catch your breath,” the voiceover says.
It also shows footage of a bendy bus overtaking a cycle rickshaw driver and turning left, forcing the cyclist to stop.
“Good job the professional cyclist predicted what was coming,” the voiceover says.
There’s pedestrians walking along bike lanes – or “testing them on foot before trying them by bike” – and one cyclist bunnyhopping the tram tracks to avoid getting “integrated into the tram network”.
The clip finishes by admitting “cycling shouldn’t require such advanced skills; cycling should be for everyone.”
Transport for Greater Manchester is investing millions in dedicated cycle infrastructure, including a major protected cycle route on Oxford Road, as part of a bus priority scheme, and a recently opened bike track on the city’s “Curry Mile”. However, in recent weeks one cycle lane, on Portland Street, was removed at the junction with Oxford Road due to safety concerns, as cyclists were being forced to ride between a bus stop and bus layby.
Cycling UK (formerly CTC) recently reiterated concerns over a lack of national design standards after a “flagship” Leeds-Bradford Cycle Superhighway, paid for with the same pot of Government Cycle City Ambition Fund money as Manchester’s Oxford Road scheme, was built just 75cm wide.
Meanwhile, in the New Forest, some new cycle infrastructure is similarly bizarre.
Designs for the Exchange Square tram stop, with its island-style platform, were intended to make the most of what is described as limited space in the busy shopping area, while allowing plenty of room for pedestrians. The original promotional video for the new tram station is below.