Sunday 31 March 2013

Outwood Trail Closure

The Outwood Trail is closed between Ringley Road West, Outwood and the M60 bridge is closed from the 18th March to 24th May 2013 for resurfacing works.

This is where the path is blocked from the north. This is the site of Ringley Road Station, there is a steep path up to the road on the right.

From the south you are faced with this.

Will post the best alternative route soon - it is part on road.

Unhelpfully, there was no alternative route posted at the route closures.

This is a map of the closure.

View Outwood Trail Closure in a larger map

And here is my suggested alternative route, avoiding most of the muddy bits I found over the weekend.

View Outwood Trail Alternative Route in a larger map

..most of the muddy bits.

Friday 29 March 2013

Manchester March Critical Mass

Bank Holiday Critical Masses are always smaller than usual, people are away on holliday, and the students are away.

However this one was pretty good. Lots of new faces and shiny new bikes joined the ride.

Whilst BST isn't quite here yet, there was still some light in the sky as we set off.

It was a fast paced ride with good fluffy vibe.

I left early, as the ride reached the southern end of Deansgate.

Next month it will be warm and light :)

Sunday 24 March 2013

When Cycle Tracks End...

The A56 Chester Road/Bridgewater Viaduct heading north east towards Deansgate has a two way cycle track on the right hand side. for people cycling south east it is ok, just so long as you watch out for traffic at the junctions.

However, if you are using it to cycle north west you are in for a nasty shock...

It is tricky to cross junctions on the wrong side of the road, and here at the junction with Great Jackson Street the road eats into your space making curved give way lines.

Carrying on it doesn't seem too bad,

but if you are aiming to go north up towards Deansgate then the most obvious thing to do is take this left turn.

However, as these two lads find, you are simply dumped into the path of oncoming traffic.

The large raised traffic island then gets in your way, making things even more dangerous.

From here on it is anyone's guess, one of them goes straight on to the pavement whilst the other dives left across the road.

He did make it across safely, leaving his mate going up the pavement on the other side of the road.

This is one of the worst examples of dangerous cycling half-measures in Manchester, that I have found. I know of one person who was hit by a car here 10 years ago, and I am sure there have been more. I think this was a facility that was unfinished, rather than designed to be this dangerous, but either way round it should never have been left like this.

I find it far safer to stick to the road going north east on Chester Road, and avoid this track altogether.

View Larger Map

Life Cycle by George Wyllie

At the southern end of Deansgate sits the sculpture "Life Cycle" by scottish artist George Wyllie who died last year aged 90.

It was comissioned by Manchester City Council for an international conference on the environment in 1995, and originally stood in Albert Square.

Photo from artist's web site

It was relocated to its current location the following year.

Saturday 23 March 2013

Princes Bridge "will be removed"

In their latest newsletter on the subject Network rail have confirmed that Princes Bridge will be removed as part of the building of the Ordsall Chord, the new rail line to link Manchester Picadilly with Salford Central and Manchester Victoria stations.

Following on from last year's consultation, Network rail say that the future of Princes Bridge was a key issue for many people. They say they are "committed to providing a replacement crossing which maintains connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists (both short and long term)."

"Talks are ongoing with both Manchester City Council and Salford City Council as to what the bridge might look like, and where an appropriate location might be."

Lets just hope we don't end up with the usual low grade rubbish there is elsewhere on NCN6. Both council's have a track record of installing expensive anti-cycling barriers on bridges that exclude many people.

Thursday 21 March 2013

Updated Signs - Irwell River Park Opening Hours

Two years after Salford Council first extended the opening hours of the Irwell River Path the signs have finally been updated. It is now only a couple of weeks till the summer hours anyway, so too late to make a difference this year.

However, the update it looks a bit unofficial, as someone has just put gaffer tape over the incorrect parts of the sign. And before you ask, no it wasn't me, though I had given it some thought...

It is about time Salford Council started promoting this path properly along with the rest of the Irwell River Park. This route isn't even on the TfGM cycle maps and isn't featured on any of the cycling journey planners.

This is one of the best little paths in Greater Manchester and this morning it was wonderful in the sunshine. Even better was the sound and sight of two lapwings over Ordsall, though they had gone by the time I got my camera out.

Sunday 17 March 2013

GMCC News - Spring 2013

Hopefully this newsletter will be the first of many, despite efforts by one GMCC member to take over at the last minute and make a dog's breakfast of it all. This individual was so determined to take control that he bombarded me with emails, phone calls and even rang up the printers to try and get it changed. I was so stressed out by it all that I ended up in A&E a few days later.

However, it seems to have been worth the effort and the newsletter gone down well with readers. A big thank you to all the contributors for their writing, photos and advice. When I took a few round local bike shops the staff immediately opened it and started reading. Photos from the second Coffee Cranks Film Night show several people reading it.

In fact the newsletter has been so successful that it has already gone to a second print run to provide more copies to be distributed to bike shops and Cllr Kate Chappell, chair of the Manchester Cycle Forum was so pleased with it she has been handing out copies herself, even giving one to the transport minister....

So here it is, the first of a new era for the GMCC Newsletter, I hope you enjoy it. It has not been uploaded to the GMCC web site, so I have uploaded it to Scribd instead. Unfortunately Scribd cannot handle Courier New font correctly, so page 2 is a bit of a mess, but I hope you get the idea.

We'll be aiming to get the next newsletter out before the end of May, in time for June's events. Please send your contributions to nl(at) Please try and keep them to half a page of text, or less, and include your photos or artwork and your full name and a line to introduce yourself to the readers.

Saturday 16 March 2013

Manchester Day Bike Parade Plans

The GMCC entry in the Manchester Day Parade is coming together. Artist/maker, Julian Taylor is building a giant bike, and we need your help to build the giant bike rider.

Our outline plan for the theme of Wish You Were Here is Wish You Were Here on your bike . Rather than a demo or the like, this will be an open invitation to the crowd to join us on their bikes in Manchester. The sculpture will be the centrepiece of the entry. It needs to be tall enough to get up above the heads of the crowd to be seen. We are thinking of putting it on a large bike trailer, but that may change.

The current plan is that we will have one or two cargo bikes carrying sound systems and pulling the sculpture.We may then be able to have around 30 - 40 places for people on pedal cycles. At this stage I think it would be good to have groups of 4 or 5 people representing different ways in which people can cycle. So for example, we could have representation from Tweed Ride on historic machines, a road club in colours, bikes in bloom with flowers in baskets, fixies, shopper bikes, lowriders or whatever....

The point being that everyone in the crowd should be able to identify with at least one person in the parade and think, yes, that's how I want to cycle. This was inspired by meeting someone at work who had just taken up cycling to work this week. Her shiny new, and rather stylish bike had been turning heads in the bike shed all week. It was a case of finding someone who had just decided to cycle, wearing smart clothes to go with the stylish bike and was clearly enjoying the experience.

Now, this is where we need help. To make this parade work well I will need at least around 50 people to be there on the day to ride bikes. We will also need help with the building of the sculpture and its infrastructure, to coordinate the project, sort out sound systems etc.

We need help on Sunday 19th May building the rider.

Unit 4a Manchester Industrial Estate
New Elm Road
Off Water Street
M3 4JW

From 11 to 1am and from 2 till 5pm.

Monday 11 March 2013

Wish You Were Here, on your bike....

This year's Manchester Day Parade will include an entry from Manchester's cycling groups. Under the banner of GMCC I have been accepted as an entry by the parade organisers. I have yet to discuss any details with Walk the Plank, but the general idea is to reflect on how much better Manchester would be if everyone cycled more.

The overall theme is "Wish You Were Here" so the current best approach to the theme is to turn that into "Wish You Were Here on your bike..."

We will be open to collaborating with other groups who have entered if appropriate. At this stage we have no idea as to whether we could enter as a giant Critical Mass bike ride or whether we will be restricted to a small number of people. This wonderful trike built by Pif-Paf from last year was an example of the kind of thing that inspired me.

I'm also a great fan of Rinky Dink the pedal powered sound system and would love to build something similar to use to promote cycling in Manchester.

Either way round this is both exciting and rather daunting. We will need lots of help to make the impact we need. This video from last year shows the scale of activity that went into many of last year's entries.

So as soon as I have any more details I will be looking for people to help create a positive image about the future of cycling in Manchester.


P.S. I'm hoping we can improve significantly on the 2002 Croydon Cycling Campaign entry in Croydon Carnival...

Sunday 10 March 2013

We've Got To Stop Meeting Like This

Followers of McFly may have noticed that I've pinched the title of this post from February's Manchester Climate Monthly, and I've done so for good reason.

The item starts off:
Recently the MCFly co-editors held a meeting in silence. If you know them, you'd find that hard to believe. But it's true and there was a point to it. We'd invited various people from several environmental groups to be guinea pigs for a new skill-sharing project called “Activist Skills and Knowledge” ( We committed everyone to silence, and then mimed them through a series of tasks – such as mingling with everyone else and looking at their name badges, and writing down things they were very good at and things they were not good at.

Within a couple of minutes several people were getting quite disorientated and/or confused. Why did we do this (other than native sadism)? Because we wanted experienced activists to get a taste of what it is like to be speechless and not really sure what the hell is going on in the room. That's how “new” people in meetings often feel. And you know, we rarely see them again. That has to change.

Ironically the first item in February's diary was
Mon 11, 7pm AGM of Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign at Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, M2 5NS, close to Manchester
Town Hall.

The GMCC AGM was exactly the kind of meeting Marc Hudson rails against. Nobody seemed to be chairing it and it just rattled on making very little progress. One member continually talked over everyone else, butting in all over the place. At one point he seemed to be having an argument with himself about who should be membership secretary. As a result the meeting over-ran badly, and broke up in chaos. It was so bad that several of us decided to go off to a different pub.

It was a real embarrassment for me as I had promoted the meeting and persuaded several people to come along and they were clearly not happy. I doubt that any of the new people in that room will ever come back.

Campaign meetings should be all about getting things done. January's GMCC meeting, by contrast, had been a good example of that. There were good discussions about how to approach the campaign for better cycling provision on Oxford Road, several decisions made and stuff got done. One result from that meeting is that GMCC has now been invited to take part in the Manchester Day Parade on June 2nd.

Let's hope things improve...

Sunday 3 March 2013

UMBUG - MCR's biggest cycle group?

Just found this little video about UMBUG, the University of Manchester Bicycle Users Group.

The message is really positive, if you work hard at supporting cycling in a workplace then you can increase cycling levels. It is something that all emplyers should emulate.

The hard work has also probably built the biggest cycle group in manchester at over 800 people.

Is UMBUG the biggest group of cycling people in Manchester?

Saturday 2 March 2013

Our NHS is a wonderful thing

Last Wednesday night I suffered a sudden change in my heart rhythm, known as atrial fibrillation. I immediately recognised the symptoms because other members of my family have experienced the condition. Because I was not in pain, and because I knew it was not life threatening I left it till the following morning to walk over to The Docs and seek help. The wonderful team over there had me seen measured and dispatched off to the Manchester Royal Infirmary A&E department very swiftly, having already warned the hospital I was on the way. At A&E, after a bit of processing and paperwork I was in a ward being examined and treated, and by around three in the afternoon I walked out of the hospital with a normal heart rhythm. The staff in the hospital were very impressive in their efficient and effective professionalism combined with a friendliness and humanity that utterly contradicts all the NHS horror stories that have been in the news recently.

Thanks to these people I will be back on my bicycle pedalling to work on Monday morning as normal. I will be taking the ride gently for some time, and I will be trying to avoid stressful situations for even longer. Sadly it is probably the stress that I have been subjected to whilst I put together the GMCC newsletter that landed me in hospital, but that is a long story and best left to another post.