Sunday 15 December 2013

Design Options for Oxford Road


The following has been sent to cycle forum members

As discussed at the Manchester Cycle Forum meeting last week, TfGM have set a date for a workshop to discuss cycling infrastructure options as part of the Bus Priority Package. This workshop will be focused on the section from Hathersage Road into the City Centre.

The cycle forum workshop is to be held at TfGM’s office at 2 Piccadilly Place on Tuesday 14 January 2014. The workshop will start at 5pm in Room 1A.

TfGM will host the workshop with the intention being to discuss the most suitable approach for Oxford Road’s cycling infrastructure.

Please could you respond directly to Philip Haynes at TfGM to confirm your attendance, email Philip.Haynes at


Design options being considered by TfGM for this "On-Carriageway Segregation" :

I will add more information to this post as I find it.... sorry it's a bit of a mess at the moment, but I wanted to get the information out.

Flexible ‘wands’ - as used for the London Olympic lanes;

The wands, appart from looking ugly are not robust against moving traffic. Shortly after the wands were installed they ended up like this;

smashed up by passing traffic, so no protection at all!

The wands in this location were smashed up a second time after they were reinstalled.

So these are not at all robust and will be a maintainance problem.

Armadillos: possibility of echelon or longitudinal arrangement;

The Armadillos are also made out of plastic by a Spanish company based in Barcelona. Judging by their web site the company are new to the market and have only been used in a few places. This also means their longevity is not proven. Also, as they are quite low they are no protection against a driver who wants somewhere to park.

Cycle campaigners are not happy with the way they have been used in Camden.

Photo from The Alternative Department for Transport

And neither were the Washington Area Bicyclist Association happy with the way they were installed in Pennsylvania Avenue.

Discontinuous kerbing;

As for intermittant kerbs, they are no match for the determined driver either.

Brighton - Grand Avenue and The Drive

Vertical v’s physical segregation;

Update: think I've worked out what TfGM mean by this...

Wider than wands, possibly more robust, these will eat into the lane widths and look pretty ugly....

Appropriate drainage solution;

(and boy does Oxford Road need the drains fixing!)

Other possible alternate options.

(presumably this could include proper Dutch or Danish designs...)

Oxford Road Update from TfGM

At last week's Manchester Cycle Forum David Budd from TfGM gave a presentation called "Cycling and Bus Priority on Oxford Road: Update."

Unfortunately this isn't available on either the council or TfGM's web site at the moment. The proposals can be seen here.

The key areas and issues from the consultation were the huge support for the ‘Dutch-style’ cycle lanes along Oxford Road and there were requests to see similar schemes across Greater Manchester. There was also support for improved bus access and services that will cross the city and for improved connectivity to key destinations along Oxford Road, including the universities and other sites.

There were concerns from private hire taxi firms who don't like being excluded from Oxford Road, about the impact of displaced traffic on parallel routes and access for delivery and parking, both on-street and disabled.

Generally TfGM seem very happy with the response to the consultation with overwhelming support for the scheme, particularly from people who want to cycle on the route.

So far so good....

However, then came the not-so-good news. It seems that the proposals for the "Dutch-style" cycle provision are not set in stone yet, and TfGM may be looking for compromises in the design rather than creating an iconic, high quality, visually attractive route that will live up to the ambitions of Corridor Manchester Partnership and the Corridor Strategic Plan 2020 and raise the status of utility cycling in the city.

Image from Corridor Manchester Partnership web site

Whilst the stated ambition is ‘Safe, segregated cycle lanes, minimising conflict and maximising opportunity’ and they are planning to engage user groups to develop the optimum design solution, you may note the use of the term "cycle lane" rather than segregated cycle route.

Sadly TfGM seem to be focused on the design of bus stops with bypasses rather than looking at the cycle route design as a whole. The design proposals are for "On-Carriageway Segregation" with bus stop bypasses not high quality Dutch style provision with full segregation provided by kerbs, cycle parking, trees and other infrastructure as seen in the video here. There is a route about the same width, if not narrower with bus stops about 7 minutes in.

And if you want to see the best of Dutch infrastructure where there is space here is what has been built around the University of Utrecht (speeded up).

So the proposals from TfGM seem to lack ambition when it comes to achieving high quality segregation and they make comments about confident cyclists being able to use the road, which suggests that only timid cyclists will want to use the cycle provision...

The cycle route widths quoted are very disappointing too. Rather than planning for a 2.5m or 3m wide cycle route, they are planning on only 2m wide, narrowing to 1.5m behind the bus stops. The narrow cycle routes will increase the conflict with pedestrians and make it difficult to pass other people.

The standard width for one way cycle paths in the Netherlands is a minimum of 2.5 m ( 8′). 

As for the options being considered by TfGM for this "On-Carriageway Segregation" they are somewhat disappointing:

Flexible ‘wands’ - as used for the London Olympic lanes;

Armadillos: possibility of echelon or longitudinal arrangement;

Discontinuous kerbing;

Vertical v’s physical segregation;

(whatever they are!)

Appropriate drainage solution;

(The drains in Oxford Road really do need fixing!)

Other possible alternate options.

(Presumably anything else)

I will post separately about the problems with most of these options. As well as being visually unatractive there are also problems with their lack of robustness.

What happens next

TfGM are planning on holding "design workshops" in the early new year with pedestrian groups, cycle groups (cycle Forum), disability reference groups and Corridor Manchester Partners. It will be essential for people to get to these workshops with good ideas to ensure we end up with a good functional and long lasting design for Oxford Road. Cycle campaigners need to ensure a high quality design for Oxford Road which has the capacity to cope with a big increase in cycle traffic. We also need to ensure that last-minute changes don't allow delivery vehicles in to the area and block the cycle routes.

Friday 13 December 2013

Student Cycle Map & BUG

This is a great piece of practical activism from the Students' Union at the University of Manchester.

When I started making contact with university bicycle user groups I was shocked to realise that they often do not involve or represent students. The Students' Union at Manchester University have addressed this problem head on by forming their own Students Bicycle User Group.

In addition to the web pages and a Facebook page they have also produced a great cycling map covering the problem areas for students.

This is really good practical work and reminds me that we need to get on with sorting out a MediaCityUK BUG.

(Pitty about the crap version of the GMCC logo though)

Sunday 8 December 2013

Manchester Day, "Going Global!" 2014

This week details were anounced for the Manchester Day Parade.

The parade will be on Sunday 22 June 2014.

The theme this year is ‘Going Global!’.

The deadline for applications is Friday 31st January.

This year there is going to be one important change. After participating last year, several of us felt that the parade ended too quietly, there was no carnival or party to wind down at. Well next year that will change. The organisers, Walk the Plank are aiming to transform some of Manchester’s city squares into "mega parties of amazing d├ęcor, mounthwatering food and drink and vibrant performance" as well the parade..

The idea behind the theme of 2014 is to reflect Manchester’s position as a world leader and how the city and its people connect with the world.

So there are many way to take the theme, from cycling around the world, to Critical Mass around the world to great cycling cities of the world.

We need to remember that priority will be given to groups with exciting creative ideas, groups who can demonstrate both a commitment in time* and the capacity and enthusiasm to deliver a quality project and groups who are able to bring some funding or resources to Manchester Day.

A couple of last year's participants have already expressed the idea that this year we should be in the parade and put on a pedal powered party in one of the squares. Who else thinks that would be a good idea and is prepared to put in the effort of making it happen?

If you would like to be involved then email me at mdp(at)

* (e.g. 1 workshop of 2-3 hours per week for 4 weeks)

Friday 6 December 2013

GMCC News 4 - Winter 2013

By this stage I would have hoped that most GMCC members would have received their copy of the newsletter in the post. However, following a bit of a cock-up last Saturday, none of the newsletters went in the post over the weekend and the rest that are due to be distributed by local members are still being sorted out.

So, in case yours hasn't arrived yet, here is the fourth GMCC newsletter that I have compiled. It features a great new calendar of cycling events from Love Your Bike and lots of great contributions from GMCC members.

GMCCNews Winter13

If you would like to contribute to the newsletter then please send text and images to along with your name and a short byline introducing yourself.

The deadlines for submitting copy for the 2014 newsletters will now have to be earlier in the month so that we can get the newsletters out in time for important events like Bike Week in June. The newsletter deadlines will now be the first weekend of the month, as follows:-

Spring 2014: Sunday 2nd February

Summer 2014: Sunday 4th May (for Bike Week)

Autumn 2014: Sunday 3rd August

Winter 2014: Sunday 2nd November

If you like to receive the paper copy of this newsletter, then join GMCC - it's currently free for the first year, so there is no reason not to and you can receive a full resolution copy of the newsletter in the post.

Sunday 1 December 2013

Oxford Road bus priority package consultation

The report on the Oxford Road consultation came out last week, and I received an email response:-

Dear respondent,

Oxford Road bus priority package consultation

Following your response to the Oxford Road bus priority package consultation which was held between 22 May 2013 to 5 July 2013 we have now analysed all responses received.

Over 1,000 people commented on the plans for both Oxford Road and Manchester city centre. The reports demonstrates support for our original proposals with Oxford Road receiving support from 65% of consultees, with 12% against the plans and 23% neutral or with no clear opinion. A copy of the consultation report is attached.

Please note a separate report is available for the Manchester city centre proposals.

If you would like to view a copy of the Manchester city centre report or the appendices for both reports, these are available at or alternatively, you can request a hard copy by contacting us:

by email:

by phone: 0300 123 1177

by post: Transport for Greater Manchester bus priority, FREEPOST RRHE-RKUU-KSJY, Manchester M1 3BG

Both Oxford Road and Manchester city centre schemes are now being further developed in line with the suggestions and comments received during the formal consultation process.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Boulton

Head of Programme Management Services

The consultation report is available on-line, please have a look.

The main message is that by far the biggest number of responses were about cycling, so a big thanks to everyone who responded.

The recent fatalities in London, underline the need to get this scheme right, and not just bodge something up because it is cheap.


There is a whole road safety industry out there that seems to treat people who walk and cycle as vermin to be removed from the road. The latest incarnation of this in the local area is the campaign from the Greater Manchester Casualty Reduction Partnership.

The attitude towards people like us can be seen in this line advising drivers:-

You might think you know the roads but every day new hazards appear; road works, pedestrians and cyclists so make sure you pay attention.

So the Greater Manchester Casualty Reduction Partnership regard pedestrians and cyclists as "hazards" alongside roadworks. To them we are no different from traffic cones or holes in the road!

The whole approach is to push blame towards the victims and young drivers, rather than enforcing road traffic law and reducing traffic speed and levels.

Worst of all is the advice for "cyclists"

Remember that cycle lanes are there to help you and when you need to make sure you share the road.

Don’t go unseen make sure your wearing high visibility clothing and always wear a helmet.

Cycle lanes are there to help you? Not round here they aren't, most of the cycle lanes in Manchester are CRAP!

Many are even downright dangerous.

As for Hi-Viz and Helmets, they are both causes for concern and may actually be counterproductive. The case for Hi-Viz is demolished by the Road Danger Reduction Forum as yet more victim blaming, and the case against cycle helmets has always been clear, as collated by the Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation.

Of course neither are a legal requirement on our roads and promoting either of them actually discourages people from cycling, with all the consequent health risks of inactivity.

This campaign is doing nothing to improve the safety on our roads. We desperately need better road traffic law enforcement in Greater Manchester. Every day I walk down Deansgate I see drivers openly flouting the law and endangering lives... Here a bus goes straight through a red, long after the other direction has gone green.

It is time to properly enforce road traffic law and take the dangerous drivers off the roads, not blame their victims.



Following our complaints this page has now been reworded to remove some of the offensive language...

You might think you know the roads but every day new hazards appear; road works, pedestrians and cyclists so make sure you pay attention.

Has been replaced with

You may think you know the roads but are you prepared for change? Are there roadworks along your journey now? Are there any pedestrians in the road or waiting to cross? Is there a cyclist ahead? Give room! Slow Down! Be respectful. Share the road!


Remember that cycle lanes are there to help you and when you need to make sure you share the road.

Don’t go unseen make sure your wearing high visibility clothing and always wear a helmet.

has been updated to read

Remember that cycle lanes are there to help you and can be useful for your journey, please use them when safe to do so.

Don’t go unseen make sure your wearing high visibility clothing and always wear a helmet.

Which is no better, except that it acknowledges what we have known all along, that some of Greater Manchester's cycle lanes are actually dangerous.