Don't have time for a full report, but here are a few comments from last night's meeting.
Firstly, Manchester has a new Cycling Champion, Councillor Mandie Shilton Godwin who represents the Chorlton Park Ward and is a regular bike rider. She chaired the meeting quite firmly and had to cut some of the later items short because of a very full agenda.
One nice surprise was seeing council leader Richard Leese join the meeting for the first half hour (he then had to rush off to another meeting). Richard Leese has taken a role in looking after highways during Cllr Kate Chappell's maternity leave.
The other good development was that the meeting was held in a comittee room in the old Town Hall building, so there were no problems gaining access. However, there was the same problem of the room not being large enough for everyone to sit at the table, and several people had to sit at the back of the room.
There was also a presentation about future transport plans and strategy for Manchester. The Manchester Transport plan and the City Centre Transport Plans are both going to be revised over the next couple of years. This will be a big opportunity to steer the council's statutary plans towards walking and cycling and away from increasing road capacity.
The meeting was dominated by presentations from officers on the many and various schemes going through, many of which will go out to some sort of public consultation before the end of the year, and several may turn up this month.
Updated plans for Oxford Road - it looks like all the pressure from campaigners has paid off and the engineers have found sufficient space for all but one bus stop bypass and there will be proper kerb separation between the cycle tracks and the bus lanes, except where there are a couple of loading bays needed. The only bad news is that the plans are to open the road to all traffic between 9pm and 6am. The traffic orders will be advertised sometime around the end of October and we need to express support for the scheme.
The Velocity plans do not seem to be such good news. The draft plans we saw at an earlier meeting were very poor, and whilst updated plans are being promised it is very likely that when they come to full public consultation we will have to make further objections to stop some of this becoming a waste of money. Keep an eye out for these consultations and please respond.
Also, the revised City Centre LSTF plans which we have had a real fight over will be coming back for consultation soon - watch this space. There is a replanning of the Deansgate/Liverpool Rd junction which will need careful examination when it is published.
Finally, there were plans shown for the tram Second City Crossing cycle facilities. At this point the meeting turned quite angry. The person who presented the plans turned up with only one copy of each sheet, and they were only A3 size, so quite difficult to see. Basically the only major improvement for cycling will be that the Cross Street tram stop will now be an island platform, like Market Street, to stop cyclists being squashed between the trams. The rest of the plans were very poor. Basically everyone will be expected to cycle in the one metre wide gap between the pavement kerb and the tram rail. This is no better than Mosley street where most people play it safe and cycle on the pavement, or avoid the route all together. The plans for Princess Street were just dreadful, and several very harsh comments were made in the meeting, which became angry at this point. Hopefully, these plans will be re-presented at a separate meeting, but they look so bad that at this late stage it may well be impossible to sort out this mess.
Overall it was a very mixed meeting, but the fact that senior councillors are getting involved is still a promising sign, and the lesson from Oxford Road is that complaining and campaigning does work!