Saturday, 13 December 2014

Concerns with Metrolink tram routes: Statement to Manchester Cycle Forum

The problems with the lack of consultation with the public on the design of the new Metrolink lines has reached a crisis with the very poor quality designs that are potentially very dangerous for anyone on a bicycle.

Love Your Bike helped co-ordinate a response from a range of Greater Manchester cycling organisations which was presented to the Manchester Cycle Forum on 9th December and to Manchester City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester and Metrolink.

Read the full analysis of the problems with the ‘cycling provision’ at the Southmoor Road / Altrincham Road junction in Wythenshawe on the Love Your Bike web site.


Image from LyB web site.

I support this statement, though I wish to see involvement going beyond just cycling organisations and include open involvement for members of the public in the same way as the cycle forum.

Statement text: The Manchester Cycle Forum meeting of 9th December 2014:

1) Notes the serious concerns raised by British Cycling in November 2012 on the new tram lines around the Manchester Velodrome [1] and previous concerns raised by a Manchester Wheelers member in 2010 regarding the Eccles New Road route. [2]

2) Also notes that many Manchester residents already use cycle routes through Trafford Park and to Media City and that funding has been secured to build the Trafford Park Metrolink line.

3) Is dismayed that despite raising concerns over the design and provision of cycling provision alongside Metrolink routes that yet again inconvenient and, in some cases, unsafe cycling provision has again been installed on the Metrolink extension routes. Notably, the Altrincham Road / Southmoor Road junction on the Metrolink Airport route

4) Calls on Transport for Greater Manchester, Metrolink and its project contractors to ensure that:

a) remedial measures are taken to improve the cycling infrastructure provision along existing Metrolink routes;

b) future Metrolink routes, such as Trafford Park, must be designed to meet the TfGM Cycle Design guidance which outlines the 5 key criteria “for successful and effective cycling infrastructure”, namely: safety, coherence, directness, attractiveness and comfort.

c) the cycling organisations in Greater Manchester are involved from the beginning of the design process.



This statement is supported by the organisations listed below:

British Cycling, Martin Key

CTC Right to Ride, Dave Butler

GM Cycling Campaign, Jonathan Fingland

Love Your Bike, Dr Graeme Sherriff

Manchester Cycling Lab / The University of Manchester, Gabriele Schliwa

Sustrans, Rosslyn Coldersley, Regional Director

UMBUG, Kathy England
Notes

[1] Olympic coach Shane Sutton, badly hurt in bike crash, says tram lines around Manchester Velodrome are ‘death trap’ for cyclists. Manchester Evening News.

[2] Is this Dangerous? (Eccles New Rd in Salford) Manchester Wheelers.

Trafford Park Tram Plans - cycle routes will be closed for months

After some fuss trying to get the plans for the Trafford Park Metrolink out of TfGM I was sent an email containing a link to a complete set of plans online.

Why on earth TfGM didn't put a link on the notices I don't know, but there has been no publicity about these plans that I have seen beyond the paper notices.

There is good news and dreadful news on these plans.

The good news is the track alignment may have improved for cycling as most routes look like they will cross the track at right angles in more places.

The dreadful news is that most of the cycle routes will be closed for many months during construction work. For example, not only are the access paths being closed, this whole section of the towpath will be shut for the construction work.

The tram lines will smash their way through Sam Platts pub, and demolish the Wharfside Business Centre and the factory adjacent to Quay West. This is different from the original alignment in the consultation which would have run along the road.



Will update as I work my way through the details...

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Velocity Consultations Update

The consultations on Airport Cycleway and Prestwich Cycleway have now closed.

These poor quality proposals have been surveyed by Love Your Bike in detail and you can read their excellent report on their web site.

Two further consultations are open to the end of December, the Wilmslow Road Cycleway is another poor quality route and the Cheetham Hill Road Cycleway which is utter crap!

Now Manchester City Council is putting on 3 events at short notice where you can comment on the Wilmslow Road Cycleway - Didsbury - 9 December, Withington - 10 December and Fallowfield - 11 December.

More details on the web site.

It is beginning to feel like desperation on the part of the council as they begin to search for somebody to support their poor quality proposals.

However, there is something missing from these consultations - the section through Curry Mile. As far as we know this part of the route has been dropped, at least for now. This leaves a large gap in the south Manchester Route.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

MediaCity cycle route closure notice

No sooner have TfGM closed the consultation on the Trafford Park tram line than they have made moves to close the surrounding cycle routes. The building of this line will have a major impact on people commuting to MediaCity from South Manchester and Trafford in the same way that Cross Street has become a no-go route for cycling in the city centre.

This notice appeared a couple of weeks ago along the Trafford side of the Ship Canal. It is a notice of an order to close this path, which is a busy cycle route.



The order contains no plans or anything like that but just says it is giving notice of an order to close the path linking Trafford Wharf Road to the path flanking the southern bank of the Manchester Ship Canal.



To request a copy of the plans you have to email Phil.Goodfield@tfgm.com and ask for a copy of the plans. Objections have to be in by 23rd December, so we don't have long.

If this is your route too and from work please request a copy of the plans.

You are going to find your route to work closed, possibly for many months if not more than a year.



This is the view from the other side.



This route is part of NCN route 55 so I hope Sustrans will be objecting too.




Sunday, 30 November 2014

Tram routes & cycling meeting

A meeting has been called by the Manchester Cycle Forum to discuss the cycling routes around the tram routes for the Second City Crossing and Altrincham Road.

The meeting will take place on Thursday, 4th December at 5pm in Committee Room 4 of Manchester Town Hall.

Email cycle.forum@manchester.gov.uk to confirm your attendance.



Unfortunately the tram lines are already going in so the scope for changes will be limited.

Tyldesley & Roe Green Loopline Closed

A colleague at work found his route to work along the Roe Green and Tyldesley Looplines blocked a couple of weeks ago, with no explanation.

The closure runs all the way from Worsley Station to Tynebank in Wallden.



He wasn't best pleased at having to carry his bike out onto the surrounding very busy road.



The closure notices finally appeared after two weeks.



It seems Urban Vision and Salford Council don't think that people cycling need to be given advanced warning along the route, giving them time to work out how they are going to navigate the surrounding roads. After all we don't all read their web site just in case our route to work is being closed.




Saturday, 29 November 2014

November Critical Mass

Unlike October, November's Critical Mass doesn't have a natural theme round which to build a big ride. Around 80 of us set out to navigate our way through the heavy traffic. There were a couple of tight squeezes to get away from the road closures along Cross Street.



The ride turned out onto Deansgate and joined the traffic jam.



We waited patiently to get to the bottom of the road



and then turned left under the railway bridge





Once away from the traffic jam the ride moved along quite gently



We had 3 sound systems.



The ride turned south along Princess Street



and I turned for home at Grosvenor Street.



Music was One by Deepernet.

Next ride is Boxing Day.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Manchester Cycle Forum - Dec 9th

The next Manchester Cycle Forum will be held on Tuesday 9th December 2014 from 17:30 to 19:30, in the Town Hall, Committee Room 4 - use the Lloyd Street entrance.

Like the last meeting, this is going to be a packed agenda with some real problems for those wanting to improve cycling in Manchester.



Please make the effort to attend. The more of us in the meeting the more pressure we can put on the Councillors and officers to take cycling seriously and stop fobbing us off with poor quality routes.

Items on the agenda include
  • feedback on workshops on Altrincham Road / Southmoor Road Junction and City Centre Transport Strategy, 
  • City Centre Transport Strategy Update, 
  • Velocity 2025 Update, Velocity Consultation : Rusholme, 
  • Statement about Metrolink Engagement, 
  • Highway Safety - Latest Report for Greater Manchester, 
  • Announcement on Future Funding 
  • and AoB.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Northern Rail Cycle Forum - 3rd Dec

The next Northern Rail Cycle Forum will be held on 3 December 2014 at the National Cycling Centre, Stuart Street, Manchester M11 4DQ. Report to British Cycling Reception on the first floor of the Centre on arrival.

AGENDA (timings are indicative)

12.30 Preliminaries, apologies and Note of Meeting held on 7 August in Harrogate (copy attached) and any matters arising.

12.45 British Cycling Campaigns (Martin Key, Campaigns Manager, British Cycling)

13.00 Northern and Merseyrail Bids to £15m Cycle-Rail Fund:

Northern bids for Manchester (Nick Vaughan,TfGM)
Northern bids for West Yorkshire
Northern Bids for Northumberland (Ian Hall)
Merseyrail bids (Andy Bristow, Merseyrail)

13.40 Progress on Approved Cycle-Rail Projects- outcome of station visits:

Network Rail Cycle Fund
Linking Places Fund- £198,000 on stations in Manchester & Cheshire
(Anthony Singleton, Vextrix Management)

14.00 Sustrans Projects in Manchester and NW (Rosslyn Colderley, Sustrans Regional Director)

14.20. Northern Rail Franchise: Stakeholder Consultation (Les Webb/Simon Geller)

14.25 2014 National Cycle-Rail Awards: 26 November (Conrad Haigh)

14.40 Other Recent Developments and AOB
- Sheffield Hub (Simon Geller)
- Long Causeway & Monsal Trail (Simon Geller)
- South Yorkshire Cycle action Plan
- A Google Group for Northern Rail Cycle Forum? (Simon Geller)

15.00 Provisional Date for Next Meeting: 12 March 2015.


For further details email Les Webb
Office Volunteer/Northern Rail Cycle Forum Secretary/Leeds Ranger Group Co-ordinator
Sustrans Yorkshire and Humber Regional Office
First Floor,Leeds Bridge House Hunslet Road
LEEDS LS10 1JN

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Central Library Cycle Parking Update

I cycled home today past the library, as I'd been told that it was looking really good now the hoardings had been removed and that some of the bike racks were in place. However, on arrival, the first thing I noticed was that even late on a Sunday afternoon, bikes were still being locked to the tram stop railings.



Yes the place does look a lot better, but you have to look hard to find the new bike racks.



Of the pile of racks that were propped up against the ugly cabinet



a grand total of two have been installed near the Library entrance.



Yes, just two.



So what happened to the other seven?



I found four of them all the way round the other side of the building. Convenient for the town hall entrance, but I doubt people will use them when visiting the library, so people will continue locking bikes up to the tram stop railings. I went all the way round the block and could not find the other three.



I know Manchester City Council are putting together a project to put more cycle parking in the city centre, but it is really sad when an expensive scheme like this one did not include sufficient cycle parking to meet even the current demand.

Of course, one impact of this scheme was to close the cycle route across the front of the library, so one wonders if the designer hoped the bicycles would go away.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Wilmslow Road Cycleway meeting Thursday 13th November 4pm - 7pm

I received this email from Manchester Cycle Forum yesterday.

If you have not already received this email, then I suggest you email cycle.forum@manchester.gov.uk and ask to be given details of this meeting.

Dear Cycle Forum,

In the summer of 2013, Greater Manchester successfully bid with Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to secure £20 million of national investment, to be spent over two years, to make cycling safer and easier in the region. Of the seven routes selected for the first phase, six routes are located or have sections within Manchester.

The Wilmslow Road Cycleway will be an improved on-highway, and largely segregated, cycle route from Wilmslow Road to East Didsbury with further links to the Trans Pennine Trail and Mersey Valley cycle paths.

The route is part of the first phase of the ambitious VĂ©locity 2025 strategy which will see cycling in Manchester transformed over the next 12 years. The Velocity 2025 cycling strategy aims to double the number of daily cyclists by 2015 – and then double it again by 2025. Manchester’s vision is for up to 10% of all journeys to be made by bicycle by 2025.

Wilmslow Road is a heavily used cycle route from Didsbury towards/from Withington, Fallowfield, Rusholme and Manchester City Centre. Using a combination of upgrading existing cycle route provision and largely segregated proposed measures for Wilmslow Road, the upgraded route will provide a high quality cycle corridor providing a strong safe link to communities of South Manchester to employment opportunities within the Regional Centre area.

To support the new cycle facilities, traffic regulation orders (TROs) will be upgraded along the route to reduced issues with on-street, all-day parking.

We would like to invite you to our drop in session on Thursday 13th November between 4pm and 7pm (room TBC) to view and comment on the associated drawings for proposed works between Platt Lane and Didsbury Village. Members of the design team will be in attendance and available to answer questions about the route and the proposals on display.

Please confirm your attendance by replying to this email. Thanks.

The plans we have seen so far have been poor quality. We need to get Manchester City Council to stop wasting money and put in good quality cycle infrastructure and stop people being injured and killed cycling along this route.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Bolton Cycle Forum - 12th November

Bolton Cycle Forum is back...

The next meeting will be on Wednesday, 12th November 2014 from 6pm to 7.30pm.

The meeting will take place at the Bolton Artillery Suite at Bolton Town Hall, Victoria Square, Bolton, BL1 1SA.

Access will be via the Albert Halls entrance only because of works going in in the Town Hall.

Contact Jonathan Mayo at Bolton Council to indicate whether you will be attending.

Jonathan Mayo, Secretary for Bolton Cycle Forum. Email: jonathan.mayo@bolton.gov.uk



Photo is of NCN Route 55 in Bolton.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Cycle Forums in Greater Manchester

I've taken on the task of getting all the cycle forums into the Love Your Bike Cycling Events Calendar and there is quite a contrast between the different councils.



Manchester Cycle Forum runs every quarter, is chaired by a city councillor and usually packs out the room it is held in. Details of the meetings are posted on the council web site, but agendas and minutes of the meetings are not posted on the web site.

Salford Cycle Forum is also held quarterly, run by the cycling officer. Details of the meeting are available on the council web site along with agendas and "Action Sheets".

Trafford Cycle Forum is held quarterly. It is chaired by a cycle campaigner rather than an officer or councillor. Agendas and Minutes are both posted on the web site and the meetings are well attended.

Oldham Cycling Forum has restarted this past year and is an ad hoc affair. There is no information on the web site and meetings have come to my attention via twitter, so I have publicised them as best I can. Some details have also been posted on the TfGM web site.

Stockport Council’s Public Cycle User Group "meets once per month in the Town Hall, and is open to all cyclists and others who have an interest in cycling." There is a web page with the most recent draft minutes. In fact the general meetings are every other month with specialised meetings in the other months. Attendance is a bit smaller.

Bolton "At long last, the Bolton Cycle Forum is back! The next meeting will be on Wednesday, 12th November 2014, starting at 6pm." First meeting will be at the The Bolton Artillery Suite, Bolton Town Hall, Victoria Square, Bolton, BL1 1SA. So far this information hasn't reached the council's cycling web page I could find.

Bury Cycling Forum "was established in 1996 at the request of local cyclists. Until 2011 it met four times a year to discuss cycling issues and was attended by cyclists, Council officers and occasionally, Council Members. The Council doesn't currently have a cycling officer so meetings of the forum are not being convened." So this is a dead cycle forum.

Tameside is another dead cycle forum, it folded over four years ago.

Rochdale has no sign of a cycle forum, and very little info on their web pages.

Wigan also has no sign of any consultation on cycling, there are just the usual platitudes on cycling on their web site.

Trafford Cycle Forum - 26th November

The next Trafford Cycle Forum is on the Wednesday 26th November 2014, from 6-8pm and is open to anyone to go along who has an interest in cycling. Recent forums have had reports on topics like progress on the Bridgewater Way, pictured below.



From the Trafford Council Web Site:-

The Trafford Cycle Forum is a group for local cyclists to meet and debate the issues that matter to cyclists. Meetings are always lively and interesting, with a wide range of topics being discussed. The group meets quarterly, with meetings moving around the Borough.

The next meeting of the Trafford Cycle Forum will be held on Wednesday 26th November 2014, from 6-8pm, at Trafford Town Hall, Talbot Road, Stretford. Future meetings are scheduled for Tuesday 17th February 2015 and Tuesday 19th May 2015 (venues to be confirmed).

If you would like to get involved in the Trafford Cycle Forum, or receive information about events for cyclists in Trafford, please contact Dominic Smith, on roadsafety@trafford.gov.uk or by phone on 0161 912 4312.

Minutes of the last meeting.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Halloween Critical Mass

As the clocks change we enter the season of blurry photos... (if you are after pin sharp, high quality photos of the evening take a look at Dominic Torrisi's pictures of the ride)



This October's Critical Mass fell on Halloween itself. It was also the warmest Halloween on record, ending in a dry evening making for a great party atmosphere out on the streets. It was a wonderful evening where Critical Mass fitted perfectly with the mood and dress sense of the rest of the party-goers in Manchester.



Well perhaps the dress sense of Critical Mass went just a bit further...



...quite a bit further in some cases!



So many people had turned out in some sort of outfit, creepy in most cases



whilst others were sweet pussycats :)



With Cooper Street blocked off the start was a bit awkward, with a short section of tram track on Mosley Street to get onto Fountain Street.



There was a new sound system on this ride, playing motorbike engine noises along with the music!



The mood of the ride was very relaxed and in full party mode.



Some people had even dressed up their bikes too.



Lots of photos and video was taken.



And we spooked the city centre looping round through many streets twice.



All in all it was a great ride, possibly the best ever. I couldn't count all the riders, but it seemed to be well in excess of 200.



The ride kept itself to the city centre so was quite short and ended at The Angel where there was a performance by The Spokes.



Can we critical mass get any better?

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Velocity plans out to public consultation

With no notice for the members of Manchester's Cycle Forum Manchester City Council has put the plans for the "Airport Cycleway" and "Prestwich Cycleway" out to public consultation on their web site.

Members of Manchester Cycle Forum took part in a pre-consultation exercise to try and ensure the plans would be of good quality before they went out to public consultation. Unfortunately our objections to the very poor quality of the proposals were ignored and the plans that are being presented seem to be every bit as bad as the original proposals.

The photographs on this page give you some idea of just how poor the proposals are; rubbish temporary plastic armadillos, dangerous road narrowings, long delays at road crossings and unprotected junctions are featured - there is no sign of the good quality Dutch-style facilities of the original plans.

The closing date for comments is Monday 1 December 2014.




---------------

These were my original objections to the Airport Cycleway

1) General Design

The proposed design lacks ambition for encouraging of cycling in the city and when judged on the five core principles of design for people walking and cycling, these being

* safety
* coherence
* directness
* comfort
* attractiveness

These proposals fail in part on all these principles. It also fails to take account of people with children in cycle trailers or people with disabilities who ride unconventional machines such as handcycles.

2) Barriers

The proposed K Gates http://www.kbarriers.co.uk/k-barrier-gate/ for the access off of Brooks Drive are totally unacceptable as part of the Velocity Proposals. These barriers prevent people with many different designs of bike and tricycle from getting through.

A quick question on twiter about experiences this type of barrier elicited some very negative responses.

For more on why this is a bad idea see
http://www.ctc.org.uk/article/cycling-guide/barriers-on-cycle-paths
http://www.leedscyclingcampaign.co.uk/sites/default/files/uglys%20Lucy_0.jpg

3) Shared Use Pavements

There are several long sections of low quality pavement in this proposal, particularly around Tuffley Road and Simonsway. Whilst short sections of pavement _may_ be acceptable to bridge a gap, long sections of pavement with untreated junctions are a complete waste of money. Most people will ride on the road because of the danger created at every side turning. They also create confusion and treat cycling as the lowest priority form of transport

For more information see
http://www.camcycle.org.uk/newsletters/111/article11.html

4) "Light Segregation" aka Armadillos

The proposal to use small plastic humps to separate cycles from heavy traffic on the bridge over the M56 is totally unacceptable. This section of the route is one of the most dangerous and requires an extensive redesign of the junction as well as hard segregation.

Armadillos have failed to protect cycle lanes in Camden and Salford from encroaching motor vehicles.

See
http://madcyclelanesofmanchester.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/armadillos-dont-believe-hype.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fv2xDZWqFzI

5) Junction Treatments

The proposal for the junction treatment at Altrincham Road is simply unacceptable. It forces cycles round a long diversion onto a staggered toucan crossing. This will add a considerable delay, possibly of over two minutes for anyone cycling. As a result it will not get used and people will cycle on the road.

Other junction treatments on this route are also poor.

6) Conclusion

These proposals do not achieve the standard I would have hoped for from the Velocity project and need to be considerably improved before they go out for public consultation.

---------------

These were my original objections to the Prestwich Cycleway (previously known as the Prestwich City View Cycleway)

1) General Design

The proposed design lacks ambition for encouraging of cycling in the city and when judged on the five core principles of design for people walking and cycling, these being

* safety
* coherence
* directness
* comfort
* attractiveness

These proposals fail in part on all these principles. It also fails to take account of people with children in cycle trailers or people with disabilities who ride unconventional machines such as handcycles.

2) Coherence

This route completely fails to connect to the city centre. The route down Cheetham hill is not a cycle route at all, it is a busy road with a few token bits of green which will have no effect. This route is completely unsuitable. The failute to create a connection with the rest of this route just compounds the problem.

By contrast there is the possibility of connecting the centre of Manchester via Danzic Street and Collyhurst Road, but this has been completely ignored.

The routes also include Heaton park which is closed after dark. Such routes are totally usless for commuting in the winter.

3) Barriers

The proposed use of barriers is totally unacceptable as part of the Velocity Proposals.

For more on why this is a bad idea see
http://www.ctc.org.uk/article/cycling-guide/barriers-on-cycle-paths
http://www.leedscyclingcampaign.co.uk/sites/default/files/uglys%20Lucy_0.jpg

3) Shared Use Pavements

There are several sections of low quality pavement in this proposal. Whilst short sections of pavement _may_ be acceptable to bridge a gap, long sections of pavement with untreated junctions are a complete waste of money. Most people will ride on the road because of the danger created at every side turning. They also create confusion and treat cycling as the lowest priority form of transport and will face opposition from local people who walk on these pavements.

For more information see
http://www.camcycle.org.uk/newsletters/111/article11.html

4) "Light Segregation" aka Armadillos

The proposal to use small plastic humps to separate cycles from heavy traffic in various places is totally unacceptable. These sections requires an redesign with hard segregation.

Armadillos have failed to protect cycle lanes in Camden and Salford from encroaching motor vehicles.

See
http://madcyclelanesofmanchester.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/armadillos-dont-believe-hype.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fv2xDZWqFzI


6) Conclusion

These proposals do not achieve the standard I would have hoped for from the Velocity project and need to be considerably improved before they go out for public consultation.

If the proposals for Velocity are not improved they will face clear opposition from cycle campaigners.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Cycling - Penalty £500

Yes, there is one location in Manchester City Centre where you are threatened with a £500 fine for cycling.



It is this big open space in St Peter's Square.



Not that the signs say anything about driving, so you still have to watch out for the construction traffic, even on a Saturday.



The sickening thing is that this used to be a cycle route, it crossed into the square here



and ran across the front of the library here, but there is no sign of it now.



Ironically TfGM are still making use of this photo, taken on the cycle track where cycling is now banned. It is the background image on all their cycling web pages!



Update: It has been pointed out to me that this route is still marked on the Manchester cycling map. Another non-existent cycle route on the TfGM maps!




This is not the case in other squares in Manchester. If you go and take a look at the signs in Piccadilly Gardens




and in Albert Square they just say "No skateboarding or rollerskating."



So why the by-law against cycling in St Peter's Square?

I haven't been able to find out any more. Details of the council's by-laws aren't available on the council's web site, so I can only assume this getting caught in the crossfire in some knee-jerk reaction after the skateboarding on the war memorial.



If anyone does find out what is going on I'd really like to know. I've asked for this to go on the next Manchester Cycle Forum agenda and I'll keep asking around. It is simply dreadful that whilst one part of the City Council is trying to promote cycling other departments are doing their best to ban it.

P.S. Many thanks to Cllr Chris Paul for putting me on the trail of this one...