Sunday 26 June 2011

Barriers, bollards, boulders and tank traps – all part of the Manchester Cycleway.

On a clockwise ride along the South and East section of the Manchester Cycleway, you soon get the feeling that someone isn't too keen on people riding bikes particulally non-standard machines, after all this is the National Cycle Network...

The Barriers round here come in many forms, one starts to wonder if the designers get paid more that way. Sadly there are no warnings about them on the map. There are gates and "A" frames,

steel obstructions, it's easiest to lift your bike over

and British Cycling - funded by motor manufacturers and the right wing media.

The bollards, on the other hand, are pretty standard.

But the boulders are a one-off on this route. However, they do get you in the right frame of mind for

the tank traps. These crop up several times, making me wonder if council officers still think they are fighting the last war somewhere around Gorton!

Finally at Chorlton, there is that sign again. This time, two in a row, just in case you miss the first one.

All this would be a bit of a joke, except that for someone riding a tricycle, a tandem, a four-wheeler, or towing a trailer this route is impossible without help to lift the machine round the obstructions. Many people can't or don't use these routes because the council seem to think that only fit people with conventional bicycles need to be catered for. Sustrans, however, should and does know better.

The Disability Discrimination Act was
enacted in 1995, but the duties on
service providers were introduced
in stages. On 1 October 2004, the
final stage came into force. The duty
on service providers reads as follows:
“Where a ‘physical feature’ makes it
impossible or unreasonably difficult for
disabled people to make use of any
service which is offered to the public,
a service provider must take reasonable
steps to:
  • Remove the feature; or
  • Alter it so that it no longer has that effect; or
  • Provide a reasonable means of avoiding the feature; or
  • Provide a reasonable alternative method of making the service available to disabled people.” (2)


Update: a timelapse video of the route from manchestercyclist

Fallowfield Loop - Ashton to Chorlton


  1. My beloved and I used the NCN62 (Trans Pennine Trail) yesterday to get from Lymm to Altrincham. Although not the same route that you have described here, the barriers were very much the same. On the one hand, the route was totally flat, direct, traffic-free, reasonably well-surfaced (hardcore rather than tarmac, but still perfectly rideable in spite of the earlier inclement weather), and wide enough for us to ride side-by-side and have a chat. Pretty much as close to cycling bliss as it gets!

    On the other hand, the route has these hideous A-frame contraptions at every road junction. No problem for me on my tourer, I could just slide on through. For Jenny on her Pashley Princess Sovereign however, no chance! The handlebars were too wide. So we had to struggle to lift the somewhat substantial mass of the Pashley over an A-frame on a fair number of occasions. Jenny, at 5'0", simply would not have been able to do this on her own - she would have been prevented from using this otherwise extremely pleasant route because of these devices.

    From what I can see, these frames have two purposes: 1) To force cyclists to dismount at the points where the track crosses a road. 2) To prevent motorised vehicles from using the track. In the case of point one, it would be far easier and cheaper to use a sign (or signs) to warn the users on the track of the impending junction, you know, like what happens on any other type of junction pretty much the world over. In the case of point two, is the risk of the occasional lout riding a moped down the track really that much of an issue to warrant the installation of these devices, at the expense of preventing a significant number of legitimate users from enjoying the facility?

  2. I thought things were bad here around this roundabout signs but that seems to take the biscuit - more of obstacle course than cycle path

  3. The DDA has now been superseded by the Equality Act of 2010 which requires all groups to have equal access (i.e. if people with no mobility problems can go that way then there should be a way through for people with mobility difficulties, wheelchair users, carers with push chairs, etc.

  4. The acid test for all cycle infrastructure is for the Chief Executive and his minions together with their transport committee should be required to cycle selected portions of the infrastructure together with the local cycle campaign group and their progress be videoed and published on the Council's website. Needless to say, the local cycle campaign group should be able to select the portions, in-order to make their point.
    I hope you're going to submit this evidence of the planning committee's incompetence / cycle hatred / use of mind-altering drugs to Cycle Facility of the Month, because I certainly don't remember seeing these excellent candidates, if only to humiliate the [delete]incompetent bastards[/delete] engineers who saw-fit to design and oversee their installation, thereby rendering the route unusable and impassable to many. Of course, they're not so baffling as May 2011; January 2011; December 2010; October 2010; September 2010; August 2010; November 2009; August 2009; July 2009; September 2008 and so-on.