Comment: Bridgewater Cycleway

Manchester City Council’s proposals for the Bridgewater Cycleway are currently in consultation, with the closing date for comments being 10 July. The following are my comments on these proposals that I’ll be submitting.

1. Please say what you think of our proposals, telling us what you agree or disagree with and why. If a comment relates to a specific feature or stretch, please clarify which.

The addition of the Bridgewater Cycleway would be very welcome to people cycling, if what was proposed was good quality and provided a safe and attractive route in and out of Manchester. Unfortunately, what is being proposed is of poor quality and will do little to improve safety or make cycling a more attractive option.

Bridgewater Way:

  • The overall proposals make use of the Bridgewater Way, although this has been recently upgraded, it is essentially a leisure route and isn’t fit for purpose for busier weekday commuting use.
  • The proposals contain very little detail about improvements, other than vague references to upgrading and widening the route, it’s unclear whether this is just the work that’s already been carried out or whether there’s plans to improve the route further.
  • There are a number of points along this stretch of the Bridgewater Way that are quite unsuitable for cycling, either due to the quality of the path surface or the narrowness of the path (particularly under bridges).
Bridgewater Viaduct changes detail map
Bridgewater Viaduct changes detail map

Bridgewater Viaduct:

  • The proposals make extensive use of paint and little else, this doesn’t provide any protection for cyclists, there should be proper segregated cycle paths throughout Deansgate, Whitworth Street West and Bridgewater Viaduct.
  • The southbound cycle lane on Deansgate is sandwiched between two vehicle lanes, which is dangerous and causes conflict
  • Advanced stop lines don’t provide any protection for cyclists and are often ignored by motorists, in more advanced cycling countries, they are already being phased out.
  • Shared cycle/pedestrian areas will lead to a lot of conflict, particularly as this is a busy area.
  • It isn’t clear if there’s any improvement to the existing segregated cycle path along Bridgewater Viaduct. Although this path is better than most of the cycle provision in Manchester, it’s too narrow, in a poor state of repair and doesn’t have priority at junctions, which has led to accidents.

2. If specific parts of the proposals could affect you, please give details and clarify which section or feature you’re commenting on.

As someone who cycles into Manchester for both leisure and commuting purposes, I am keen to see a safe and attractive route to the city centre, which is often impenetrable to bikes. Unfortunately, these proposals are neither safe nor attractive, and do little to encourage people to cycle more often into Manchester. I would like to be able to use this route with my family for leisure cycling purposes, but there are far too many points of danger along the route for me to be concerned about letting my family use it.

In particular:

  • The poor quality of parts of the Bridgewater Way, making it dangerous for inexperienced riders.
  • The dangerous proposals for Deansgate junction.
  • The lack of any decent quality cycle routes into the city centre from the Bridgewater Cycleway that are family friendly.

3. Please add any other comments about the route as a whole or specific stretches of the proposals.

Again, these proposals show a complete lack of ambition from Manchester City Council and TfGM. It is 2015 and we’re seeing proposals that would be classed as substandard 15-20 years ago, never mind now. These proposals should be significantly revised to provide real, quality cycle infrastructure, not piecemeal changes that amount to very little in real terms. They should also connect to safe routes along Deansgate and into the city centre, not dump you on the edge of the city on busy, dangerous roads. If Manchester City Council and TfGM actually want to see a real increase in the number of people cycling (doubtful by their their attitude to cycling), they need to provide a true network of safe, segregated cycle routes throughout the city centre and beyond. This is something TfL in London has realised and began to change, while Manchester lags many years behind.

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