Now, there isn’t much I agree with Richard Leese when it comes to roads, particularly the recent comments that have been attributed to him on cycling infrastructure. But one thing I do agree with is on the current state of the roads in Manchester.
I live in Trafford, and my commute to work takes me through Didsbury, along Barlow Moor Road and Wilmslow Road, arguably the two busiest roads in the town (not including Kingsway).
Neither of these roads are particularly cycle friendly. There’s no cycling infrastructure to speak of, just the odd bit of paint. They both carry far too much traffic than what they were intended for, they both have pinch points leading to conflicts, and their fair share of aggressive drivers.
To top off what is already a pretty unpleasant route, the road surface has continued to deteriorate to the extent that there are numerous deep and very dangerous potholes. Many of these have been there for a while, and the number has increased more with the recent weather. The poor state of the roads isn’t just limited to Didsbury either, go to Chorlton and it’s a similar story.
So as you can imagine, the combination of narrow roads, cars passing far too closely and very deep potholes can only lead to serious accidents.
Now I’m sure Richard Leese will be all too keen to point out that the Government’s austerity measures mean there isn’t the budget to repair the roads. But in reality what are we talking about, sending out a maintenance van to check and patch up the roads. Or better still, get the maintenance teams to take to a bike, so they can experience first-hand how bad the road surface is.
Now I’m sure if I report this to Manchester City Council, they’ll just direct me to their report a pothole page. But really, why should I have to? We’re talking about the two busiest roads in Didsbury, is it really that difficult for Manchester City Council to do what they’re accountable for and ensure they provide safe and well maintained roads?
Given the number of potholes, it’ll take some time and effort to report them all. So Manchester City Council, why not save us the hassle, get on your bike and try out the roads yourself?
Well, I’ve been told I was discouraging reporting and expecting highways inspections to immediately pick up issues, so I thought I’d clarify.
If you spot any potholes, particularly dangerous ones, then do make sure you report them to the relevant local authority. In the case of Didsbury, it should be done on Manchester City Council’s report a pothole page. There are other pothole reporting sites such as GOV.UK, FillThatHole.org.uk and FixMyStreet.
In terms of expecting highways inspections to immediately pick up issues. No, I don’t. I’m realistic and aware there isn’t the resources to do that, even before austerity cuts. What I do expect, is that inspections pick up on long-standing issues that have been present for many years and endanger anyone riding along there.
Riding from Palatine Road to Princess Road along Barlow Moor Road, you’ll notice a number of points where it’s necessary to swerve in and out to avoid various parts of the road where there’s repairs, on top of repairs, on top of repairs. One point in particular, near the junction with Elizabeth Slinger Road, there is a pinch point with a traffic island, where it’s necessary to swerve to avoid some particularly bad patching up, usually while cars are dangerously trying to pass you.
Again, riding along Wilmslow Road, from the Dene Road junction, towards The Didsbury pub, you’ll notice more points where the road surface is dangerously poor. Now, an attempt was made patch parts of this up last year, albeit, a pretty poor attempt. But it still remains very poor, again at a pinch point, where the road narrows and drivers take unnecessary risks to overtake. For some reason, beyond The Didsbury, the whole road was resurfaced, I don’t know why this was chosen and not the more dangerous section.
So, these are just a couple of examples of issues that have been there for many years. Yes, there are number of new potholes that have come about recently, that inspections may not have had been picked up, but there are plenty of examples they should have picked up on and addressed.