Monday 28 April 2014

Plastic Traffic Islands 1, Armadillos 0

Salford may be desperate to have your opinion of armadillos, but they have been overshadowed by the bigger Jislon plastic traffic islands installed a few days ago.

Whilst the armadillos are almost invisible against the road surface the traffic islands stand out reasonably well despite the poor choice of colour.

Whilst the armadillos are no protection the islands are a better deterrent against drivers.

The only sign of contact with traffic was on this one higher up the hill

which showed signs of being scraped by a lorry tyre.

It is a shame the trial wasn't also run on the other side of the road where drivers frequently block the cycle lane, it would have put both measures to the test.

Further along in Liverpool Street the story is pretty much the same.

The traffic islands seem fairly effective, though one has to wonder how long they would last.

Whilst I don't think the plastic traffic islands are an ideal solution they are far better than the crap armadillos which are no protection against traffic and a danger to people cycling. These islands come with middle sections to make them longer so they could be used to make a totally segregated cycle track.

Sunday 27 April 2014

Car-Free Households in Manchester

The processed Census data published by TfGM is a mine of information that overturns many people's assumptions about driving in Manchester, including mine.

Many people in Manchester won't go half a mile down the road to fetch a newspaper without resorting to their car, even some people who live in the city centre, or at least that is the impression you often get.

So it comes as some surprise to discover that 45% of all households in Manchester do not have a car or van. Outside of London, the only other local authorities with lower levels of car ownership are the Isles of Scilly and Liverpool. The figure is 31% for Greater Manchester as a whole.

Manchester City council need to stop wasting time and money on pandering to the motorists and enable more people to get around Manchester without a car.

Image and stats from TfGM.

Cycling levels up and down in GM

The processed Census data published by TfGM is quite revealing when it comes to people's chosen method of travelling to work.

Whilst there have been exaggerated claims in the press about increases in cycling levels in Greater Manchester, the reality is rather more sobering.

The headline-grabbing figure of an 82% rise is only for the Manchester area, and is wildly exaggerated by a number of factors.

This figure is only for Manchester where the population rose 19% during that same period, so the rise is closer to 55% corrected for the rise in population.

However, if you correct for the increase in travel as well by looking at the proportion of journeys the rise is more like 22%. Cycling in Manchester went from 3.2% to 3.9% of journeys to work, a quite modest rise.

If you look at Greater Manchester as a whole the proportion of people cycling to work went from 1.9% in 2001 to 2.1% in 2011, a rise of around 10%.

In other parts of Greater Manchester cycling fell overall and as a proportion of journeys to work in Bolton, Oldham, Rochdale, Thameside and Wigan.

So cycling is both up and down in Greater Manchester, depending on where you live.

Images and stats from TfGM.

North West Velo Fest 2014

The Spokes have done it again! North West Velo Fest 2014 will be 11 days of bicycle-related fun events from Friday 16th to Monday 26th May 2014.

Friday 16 May
Random Tandem Bike Lock Key Swap Party
Come and have a go on a random steed. We’ll swap bikes for short rides to around Platt Fields Park so make sure you bring a tool so you can adjust your saddle height. Who knows what bike you will end up riding!
Meet at 6 pm to ride at 6.30pm. The Boathouse, Platt Fields Park, M14 6LA.

Saturday 17 May
Join the Greater Manchester Cycle Campaign for a mass participation ride with the aim of inspiring Councils to create safe Space for Cycling on our streets
Meet at 1pm for a 2pm departure. The Boathouse, Platt Fields Park, M14 6LA.

Spokes at Manchester Vegan Fair
Food, drink and a variety of performances for your enjoyment. Include The Spokes Bicycle Dancers who will be performing at 1pm.
11am to 5pm, Chorlton Irish Club, 17 High Lane, M21 9DJ.

Sunday 18 May
The now classic Spokes Alleycat – a fast paced urban treasure hunt with silly challenges. Ride in teams of two on any kind of bicycle you want. Prizes not just for speed but challenge points and perhaps even fancy dress.
Meet from 1pm, riders set off at 2pm. The Sandbar, Grosvenor St, M1 7HL

Monday 19 May
Open Spokes
Come have a play on our tiny bicycles. We’ll show you some moves, tricks and poses.
6-8pm. Contact us for location info.

Tuesday 20 May
Evening Jolly
30-mile jolly road ride with a mid-way drink stop. Bring lights etc.
Meet from 5pm, ride at 6pm. The Sandbar, Grosvenor St, M1 7HL.

Wednesday 21 May
01FIX1 Wednesday Night Right Out
An evening ride for the fixed gear and fixed-curious.
Meet 6.30pm, ride at 7pm. Zoo, Grosvenor St, M1 7HL.

Bicycle Life Drawing
Come and draw (clothed) live models posing with their bikes or even strike a pose yourself. Get a portrait taken with your ride in our photobooth.
From 6pm. 486 Wilbraham Rd, Chorlton, M21 9AS

Thursday 22 May
Manchester Hardcourt Bike Polo
Come along or just watch, if you can ride a bike you can play! Bikes and mallets available.
6.30-9pm at The Powerhouse, 140 Raby St, M14 4SL

Tweed ride
A genteel paced ride – well one could not possibly sweat, could one? Come dressed in your tweedy, vintage or smart finery. It’s more about the tweed’itude than the clothes.
Meet at 6pm to ride at 6.30pm. Manchester Town Hall, Albert Square, M60 2JT.
Ride will terminate at The Beech, Beech Road, Chorlton, M21 9EG.

Friday 23 May
Pow Wow Pedalpowered Party
An evening of pedal powered music and general merriment! Performers welcome so get in touch if you want to help provide entertainment.
From 8pm The Boathouse, Platt Fields Park, M14 6LA

Saturday 24 May
A free day of live music, theatre, workshops, discussions, family fun and food & drink, with plenty of bicycle based activities and stalls. This is not organised by NWVF but our very own Spokes will be performing.
1 to 7pm. Eco Garden, Platt Fields Park, M14 6LA.
Spokes performance times TBC.

Sunday 25 May
Messing about on the Mersey
A leisurely 5 mile cycle to the River Mersey where we will be exchanging our bikes for canoes. We paddle downstream to Chorlton where the canoes are collected and our bikes delivered to us. Post-paddle optional rides and pints then follow.
Booking is essential, see contact details below.
Meet at The Deaf Institute on Grosvenor Street at 11am for breakfast. Depart at Noon.

Monday 26 May
Ministry of Silly Pedals
An afternoon of fun bicycle based events including handsfree challenges, slow and three armed races, pick up duck and bicycle buckaroo. Bring a bicycle and a picnic. Hecklers welcome.
Meet from 2pm. Whitworth Park.

Twitter: TheSpokesMCR
Facebook: North West Velo Fest

Saturday 26 April 2014

May 17th Manchester #Space4Cycling

Manchester will take part in the national demonstration campaign ride for Space4Cycling.

The ride will assemble at the Boathouse in Platt Fields Park from 1pm on Saturday 17th May and will ride off at 2pm.

The route has yet to be finalised, but is expected to go down "Curry Mile" and then along Oxford Road before arriving in Manchester City Centre.

We need to get thousands of people out on this ride to protest at the lack of campaign for space for cycling in Manchester.

Facebook Event

Friday 25 April 2014

April Manchester Critical Mass

Despite the wet weather there was quite a good turnout.

This is the first mass of the year setting out in the light, albeit with heavy cloud cover and rain.

The ride was fairly late setting out, but there were plenty of last minute arrivals...

With all the barriers and roadworks the best exit was round to Albert Square again.

The wet weather brought out many full sets of waterproofs.

There were a few occasions where the ride had to stop to reform,

but soon got underway again.

As we turned south down Oxford Road, we saw Reggae Man riding the other way. Sadly he didn't join us.

If anything the ride seemed to get larger as we went on.

Sadly wet weather often brings out the worst in some people...

I left the ride on Moss Lane East as they headed for Hardy's Well.

Music was Hybrid, Soundsystem 01.

Monday 21 April 2014

More paint to protect the plastic crap

Since I walked up Middlewood Street and Liverpool Street on Thursday morning, Salford Council have been busy adding big white arrows to try and protect the new plastic traffic islands.

This paint is a desperate attempt to prevent these plastic measures being smashed up before the consultation period ends on 5th May.

It is such a shame that Salford Council didn't use all the space available in these locations to put in the correct width cycle lanes.

Salford's Armadillo Consultation - 5th May

Last week Salford council carried out yet more changes to the armadillo trial on Middlewood Street and Liverpool Street, this time trying to protect the armadillos using Jislon plastic traffic islands.

As soon as had these islands been put in place, and photographed, Salford have launched a consultation:-

Scheme consultations

Segregated cycle lane trial

Segregated cycle lanes are an important part of delivering Salford's Cycle City Ambition Grant (CCAG) strategy. Following consultation with the Salford Cycle Forum, two trial sites have been implemented, to test a product which provides a semi segregated buffer between cyclists and general traffic.

The separator is commonly referred to as an armadillo. The armadillos have been used successfully in Europe for a number of years, but they are relatively new in the UK. The trial sites are being used to test the concept of semi segregation using armadillos, prior to their potential wider use in the CCAG programme. The trial sites are being closely monitored, and may be refined as necessary following observations and feedback from users.

Trial sites

Liverpool Street
Approximately 80 metres of semi-segregated cycle lane have been implemented on the westbound carriageway of Liverpool Road, between Albion Way and Cross Lane.

Middlewood Street
Approximately 70 metres of semi segregated cycle lanes have been provided on Middlewood Street eastbound.

Consultation on trial sites

The city council is very interested in receiving feedback on the trial sites from all users. This will assist the city council in evaluating the product, and influence how we progress with segregated cycle lanes in the future. Comments can be emailed to or you can call on 0161 779 6166.

The consultation period will run until Monday 5 May 2014.

Downloadable documents

Liverpool Street segregated cycle lane trial plan
Middlewood Street segregated cycle lane trial plan

Further comment appeared on Facebook which make it clearer that this consultation is all about the armadillos, and alternative products aren't being considered:-

Official consultation on the armadillos is now under way. Info below should be self-explanatory but Lee is especially interested to hear how the spacing and angles of the armadillos works. If people put comments on here, I'll pass them on.

Now before you compose your response it is worth considering a few facts about this "trial".

To start with both these cycle lanes are substandard. They are only 1.5m wide which is the absolute minimum for a cycle lane, despite this being a very wide road. Cycle lanes should be 2m wide and segregated cycle tracks should be 2.5m wide.

The first set of armadillos were installed at the beginning of February, and failed on Middlewood Street within a few days.

This is similar to the experience in Camden, where armadillos and planters were soon damaged.

The armadillos on Liverpool Street lasted a little longer, but were replaced within a month.

The Middlewood Street Armadillos were replaced at the beginning of March, but this time parallel to the road so they were less likely to be dislodged by traffic.

Indeed many drivers didn't even see them so ended up driving over the top of them.

Just imagine being in the cycle lane when that happens...

The Liverpool Street armadillos were replaced around a week later, but in the same configuration as before.

Soon after two black bollards were added to try and stop people driving into the cycle lane, but the one in Middlewood Street was damaged within a couple of days. Undeterred two yellow bollards were added a few days later.

These bollards have now all been removed following the extensive damage and replaced by the plastic traffic islands.

So, what are we to make of this constant cycle of damage and replacement? Well, this seems to be the experience in the USA as well.

A fallen soldier on Milwaukee Avenue. Photo by John Greenfield.

In the wake of this brutal winter, some sections of Chicago's Dearborn Street protected bike lanes resemble a gap-toothed grin. Several of the white, plastic posts that delineate the bi-directional bikeway are missing in action.

Half of the posts that once shielded cyclists on Kinzie Street from auto traffic are gone.

And on Milwaukee Avenue, a key route northwest from downtown and Chicago's busiest biking street, every single bollard is missing.

Unsurprisingly, plastic is not a material that stands up to heavy traffic. Any cycle route that is "protected" by plastic separators of any sort will be likely to degrade within 12 months. If the budget is not available for continual replacement then these so called "protected" cycle facilities will soon revert to just ordinary cycle lanes. So do Salford Council propose to put aside guaranteed funds for the maintenance of these proposes cycle facilities?

I very much doubt it!

The Other Problems with Armadillos

If Salford council were trialling plastic bollards or the Jislon plastic traffic islands then I would have many concerns about their suitability and resilience. However, the armadillos are a particularly bad product which fails to provide protection in several key ways:-

Visual separation

The armadillo is a rounded black plastic lump around 9cm high at the middle. Visually it is not much different to a cats-eye and lacks the visual significance of a kerb edge. Many people fail to see them at all. In the mind of a driver they do not clearly convey the message that this represents the edge of the road. As a result people drive into the cycle lane despite their presence.

Physical Separation

The armadillo's low rounded profile is little higher than a speed bump and can be driven over without causing damage to even the smallest car. Indeed the suppliers say this is one of their advantages. However it is a very dangerous obstruction for someone riding a bicycle, likely to throw you to out onto the road. Armadillos provide no protection from drivers parking in the cycle lane.

Salford Council have tested these plastic armadillos in a location where there is no obstruction of the cycle lane by parked cars and HGVs. Armadillos are utterly useless in these sorts of locations because drivers will simply drive over them to park on the cycle lane.

Raw Materials

The armadillo used in Salford is made from amorphous plastic waste. It is less resilient to damage than fresh plastics.

Alternative separators

Seville's cycle segregation measures are nothing like the armadillo. They are a much higher concrete bollard, high enough to prevent incursion by motor vehicles and visually very clearly the edge of the road.

pic via the Alternative Department for Transport

These are known as "Tobys" and have been chosen by Bristol in preference to plastic armadillos.

Replying to this consultation

The web page instructions say "Comments can be emailed to or you can call on 0161 779 6166."

However, I would warn against only sending your reply to that email address, because Urban Vision Partnership Ltd. is not strictly Salford Council, but a "a joint venture between Salford City Council, Capita and Galliford Try."

So I would suggest sending your reply to and also to Salford Council, both to Salford's Cycling Officer and to Salford's City Mayor - that way your reply is on the council's records and not just in the hands of a limited company.

Salford's mayor's web site also gives a very prominant place to the consultation so he must be taking an interest in the results.

So, get writing, remember it closes on the 5th May, and don't forget to tell the council where you live in the area and how often you cycle here.

Thursday 17 April 2014

Double Bollards on Plastic Islands

Sometime in the past week or so the black and yellow bollards have been removed from Middlewood Street and Liverpool Street (they didn't last long!) and have been replaced by new plastic traffic islands with two bollards on each.

There are four on Middlewood Street, at the beginning and end of the section without armadillos where the yellow bollards were installed,

and the other two marking the beginning and end of the line of armadillos.

The bollards are the soft new plastic ones, like the yellow bollards, and the traffic islands seem to be an amorphous, possibly recycled, hard plastic.

They are hollow, like the armadillos, you can tell by kicking them, and also, like the armadillos, they are secured to the road by bolts. You can tell this from the bolt covers.

By contrast the bollards required a much larger hole to be sunk in the road, this is where one was removed.

On Liverpool Street, two more of these islands have been installed, the entry one in place of the bollard,

and the exit one in place of the final armadillo.

They all looked very clean, as if they have only been in for a day or two.

It remains to be seen how they perform. They have a bit more presence than the bollards, but the predominant colour is black so they visually merge into the road.

As for their resilience, it is notable that they have slanted sides to deflect any impact, I suspect they are really only suitable for car parks and other places with low traffic speeds. I am also concerned that they could throw a small car onto its roof if driven into at speed.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

A Response to TfGM's Greater Manchester Cycling Strategy


I am disappointed by the narrow focus of the document “Greater Manchester Cycling Strategy Summary”. Measures to encourage cycling can only succeed in creating modal shift from motor vehicles if there are parallel measures to restrain and reduce the level of motor traffic. Indeed, measures to reduce motor traffic can be very effective on their own.

For example, the increase in the levels of cycling in London, can be traced back to the introduction of the Congestion Charge and not any great improvement in conditions for cycling. The Congestion Charge reduced traffic levels and gave a major financial incentive for people to use other forms of transport to get to work. Since then the growth in cycling has become a social phenomenon as more people discovered its advantages and the increased presence of bicycles has created a safer environment for cycling.

I was heavily involved in shaping the Bristol Cycling Strategy and the Local Transport Plan for Bristol on behalf of Bristol Cycling Campaign back in the late 1990s. I have drawn on that work and more recent documents from Bristol Cycling Campaign and the Greater Bristol Cycling Strategy in this response.

In the following pages I will set out the Vision, Principles, Elements and Actions I think Greater Manchester should adopt for its cycling strategy. These are built on the Bristol Cycling Manifesto and adapted for the Greater Manchester area. Bristol has been very successful in increasing the level of cycling and I see no reason why Greater Manchester, if it is serious about cycling, should not aim to match the level of cycling in Bristol over the next 10 years.

The final pages then set out the background issues and comment in more detail on the “Greater Manchester Cycling Strategy Summary” document itself.

The Vision

Greater Manchester needs to boldly state an aim to reshape its transport landscape away from private motor vehicles, of all kinds, and towards cycling and walking.

This bold vision must ensure that all ten authorities adopt policies to increase walking and cycling, reduce the impact of motor traffic and meet the needs of people who walk and cycle. These policies need to be fully integrated into all the local plans and policies, all other resource bids, and all complementary strategies, including corporate services, corporate resources, education, health, housing, leisure, public safety and environment, not just transport and road safety. Cycling must be built into the policing guidelines and parking enforcement too.
In short, cycling and walking should be placed at the heart of all policy thinking in all of Greater Manchester's local authorities to maximise the role of walking and cycling as transport modes, and reduce the use of motor vehicles and the need to travel.


A history of car centred planning and investment along with ongoing low levels of road traffic law enforcement have made much of Greater Manchester unsafe, polluted and congested. Children and adults are trapped by this motorised environment and people struggle to keep themselves healthy. Greater Manchester can change this by adopting five principles for its cycling strategy.

1. Fairness: The choice to cycle should be available to all, regardless of age, gender, financial circumstances, fitness, or need for non-standard bikes (e.g. trailers, tricycles, cargo). Many people and groups are currently denied this choice.

2. Safety: People on bikes should feel able to travel from where they are to where they need to go comfortably, conveniently, directly, in attractive surroundings and in safety. Good infrastructure will encourage safe and considerate behaviour. Consistent road traffic law enforcement helps protect the vulnerable as would bans on HGV's entering the regions centres.

3. Wellbeing: Cycling and sustainable transport bring prosperity to Greater Manchester. Subsidies for car-use should be reversed so the city benefits from more people cycling. Reductions in congestion will benefit everyone, particularly those who really need to use motor vehicles. Everyone will experience improved health and wellbeing through more active lifestyles and better air quality. Greater Manchester will attract new business as it becomes a more desirable place to live and work.

4. Quality: Greater Manchester should become the benchmark metropolitan area for outstanding cycling provision, with ambitious targets and committed resources. Pound for pound this will offer Greater Manchester better value for money than any other public investment.

5. Sustainability: Greater Manchester must become less dependent on imported energy, increased levels of cycling will contribute substantially to this.


The strategy is supported by five elements, each of which is essential, mutually supporting and require complete integration with all other areas of city policy and implementation.
1. Cycling Neighbourhoods: Every neighbourhood should have a walking and cycling plan linking residential areas and local hubs such as schools, parks, retail and leisure centres. The 20mph speed limit should be made more effective through use of 'traffic cells' to restrict through traffic while improving access for walking and cycling. Plans should set out to make every street a cycling street and must include cycle parking at destinations, workplaces and in residential areas with restricted indoor space.

2. Cycling Freeways: The most direct route with the best gradient for cycling in Greater Manchester is usually along a main road and these routes already carry the largest number of cycle journeys. They must be comprehensively adapted to become high quality, continuous routes for cycling. A Dutch-style matrix of infrastructure responses for each road type and condition should be used to determine suitable provision, with segregation on busy roads and junction treatments that favour cycling. Priority must be given to removing obstructions to the flow of cycles. All measures must provide for future high levels of cycling.

3. Cycling Quietways: Pleasant traffic-free routes that extend through the city and surroundings with clear signing. Velocity is looking to utilise canal towpaths. This network must be further improved and extended. Greater Manchester has an extensive network of disused railway lines and canals, much of which could be turned into a cycle network.

4. Integration: Excessive and inappropriate motor vehicle use must be made less convenient, and fairly priced, e.g. through congestion charging and parking management schemes. Integration with public transport must be made as easy as possible. Development control policies must provide for high levels of cycling, and rigorously applied. A danger reduction strategy to make our roads free from fear and harm must be followed. Transport planning models must ensure cycling is properly valued. Enforcement measures must protect the vulnerable. Integrated signing, mapping and online tools must make the area easy to navigate by bike. All measures should also support walking.

5. Encouragement: Greater Manchester must take the lead in making cycling a fully accessible mode of transport. As well as a sustained and well branded city-wide programme, every infrastructure project must include related encouragement measures. Every primary school pupil should receive Bikeability to Level 2, with Level 3 available to every secondary pupil. Adult cycle training should be easily available and affordable. Encouragement programmes must include events, marketing and promotion and work in particular with retailers, employers, schools and universities.


The councils of Greater Manchester must together take these fundamental actions to deliver the strategy.

1. Set a target to increase levels of cycling to 20% of all trips by 2025, and 30% of journeys to work.

2. Fix a Plan to deliver a comprehensive cycling network by 2025, with every road and street fit for cycling.

3. Commit investment to deliver the plan at European levels of at least £16 per capita. Further funding should come through major scheme bids and the Greater Manchester Transport Fund which has provided the tram network.

4. Implement the plan through a multi-disciplinary team of experts to co-ordinate delivery of the action plan across all sectors and areas of the city. An Annual Greater Manchester Cycling Report must report progress.

5. Engage an inspirational Cycling Commissioner to lead the transformation with full authority at a senior level. By bringing together the plans and people working in health, transport, planning, neighbourhoods, education and business the Commissioner will push forward cycling and promote a new vibrant cycling culture in Greater Manchester.

Cycle Network Requirements

Greater Manchester's road and path network must meet the needs of people who walk and cycle. The key requirements are:-

Coherence - The infrastructure should form a coherent entity, linking all trip origins and destinations; routes should be continuous and consistent in standard.

Directness - Routes should be as direct as possible, based on desire lines, since detours and delays will deter use. Barriers to walking and cycling must be removed.

Attractiveness - Routes must be attractive on subjective as well as objective criteria. Lighting, personal safety, aesthetics, noise and integration with the surrounding area are important.

Safety - Designs should minimise casualties and perceived danger for people who walk and cycle, as well as other road users.

Comfort – People who walk and cycle need smooth, well-maintained surfaces, regular sweeping, and suitable gradients. Routes must be convenient to use and avoid complicated maneuvers and interruptions.

Fairness – The promotion of cycling is not just a transport or leisure issue. It is also a matter of social equity in terms of access to work opportunities, goods and services. People using pedal cycles to carry children, cargo and people with disabilities need wide, barrier-free cycle routes without steps or steep slopes. Currently Greater Manchester's cycle infrastructure discriminates against people who have to use hand-cycles or other specially adapted forms of pedal cycle. The use of “Cyclists Dismount” signs is inherently discriminatory.

What Cycling can do for Greater Manchester

From an economic point of view expenditure on walking and cycling produces far higher returns than expenditure on public transport measures. The consequential reduction in traffic levels, pollution, road danger and congestion will provide a powerful boost to the local economy, with the reduction in congestion alone being worth several million pounds per year. Cycling provides economic benefit in terms of improved public health, reduced levels of local pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Investment in cycling presents very good value for money. Analysis by the Department of Transport (DfT) estimated that the Benefit-Cost Ratio for investment in cycling is between 2.5 and 6.1 to 1 (i.e. there is a £2.50 – £6.10 return for every £1 spent on cycling). The figure of 2.5:1 is based solely on the cost benefits of reduced mortality, and this alone puts cycling into the DfT’s ‘high’ value for money category. This benefit-cost ratio increases when congestion, amenity, absenteeism and cycling casualties are also considered. There is a further improvement when the investment is sustained over a period of 30 years.

If the Manchester area is to compete on the international stage for the brightest and best people in the world to work at its university and wider industries then it needs to provide the kind of urban environment that such people expect. Take a look at MediaCityUK; despite the almost complete lack of cycling infrastructure in the area around 12% of employees there cycle. When you look at just the BBC, where more new people have moved in from London, around 14% cycle to work. The survey only asked about the main mode of transport and this figure doesn't include people who combine a train journey with cycling, so the number of people arriving by bicycle is actually somewhat higher.

Similar effects can be seen around the Manchester Universities.

Comments on the TfGM document

The most notable things about the Greater Manchester Cycling Strategy are the omissions. The most striking of these is the lack of a clear leadership figure. A strategy can only succeed if it has clear commitment from both the politicians and officers who will ensure its success. The fact that a leadership figure has not put their name to this document is disappointing.


There is no mention of the Greater Manchester Transport Fund in the Investments column. Currently this fund is used almost exclusively to fund public transport. This spending gives a poorer return on investment than if this money were invested in cycling. At least 50% of this fund should provide measures to support cycling in future years.


There are some key organisations that could make or break the success of a cycling strategy:-

Greater Manchester Police – good and fair road traffic law enforcement is vital to the success of this strategy. Currently GMP see cycling as a problem and often seek to place blame on the victims of road collisions rather than prosecuting the drivers who present the danger to people cycling. GMP need to be brought into the centre of this strategy as part of a process of changing driver attitudes and behavior towards people who cycle.

Network Rai
l – Network Rail have responsibility for the area's largest railway station, Manchester Piccadilly, where there is a desperate need for improved cycle facilities. Contrast the extensive secure and under-cover cycle parking at Bristol Temple Meads with the poor quality facilities at Manchester Piccadilly.

Business organisations such as Chambers of Commerce
– One of the keys to the success will be the enthusiastic involvement of employers and business leaders. There is no sign of any engagement with such groups.

Visit Manchester - The Official Tourist Board for Manchester & Greater Manchester must be included in the cycling strategy to ensure that visitors adopt cycling as a mode of travel as well as residents.

Universities – some of the largest generators of cycle journeys in Greater Manchester are not listed as partners.

The NHS – Hospitals are major employers and major travel destinations in the Greater Manchester area, as well as being key partners in health initiatives. It is unthinkable that a major cycling strategy should not partner with hospitals and GP surgeries.

Manchester Cycling Lab – this new initiative at Manchester University’s Living Lab needs to be embraced as a major partnership.

Cycle Businesses – Bike shops, repair centres, mobile mechanics, cycle hire companies are all examples of bike based businesses in Greater Manchester who could contribute to the success of this strategy.

Cycle Logistics – Greater Manchester needs to develop a network of cycle delivery companies to remove the need for vans and lorries to enter the urban centres to deliver small and medium sized goods.

Cycle Rickshaws – Greater Manchester needs to develop a network of cycle rickshaws in the main centres to reduce the need for motorised taxis in the local centres. Rickshaws are currently banned by Manchester City Council and possibly others. This must change.

Cycling Organisations - The list of partners includes “Cycling organisations” yet these are not mentioned in the rest of the report so this is only a passing reference not a firm commitment. Greater Manchester has many different cycling organisations covering a very wide range of activities. Manchester City Council has, over the past few years, spent large amounts of money on cycling as a sport but has only invested around 1/10th of that amount on cycling for transport. British cycling has gained excessive influence over the council through the Memorandum of Understanding between Manchester City Council and British Cycling which is a partially secret document which states that “BCF shall contribute to MCC policy developments in these areas and act as “the voice of cycling” within the relevant policy forums.

This is a dreadful situation because it seeks to exclude local and community cycling groups from the debate. Transport for Greater Manchester must engage directly with all of Greater Manchester's cycling groups, particularly those that support cycling as a mode of transport.
The Main Document

The rest of the document is most notable in the way that it ignores the impact of motor vehicles on the level of cycling. In much of Greater Manchester unrestrained motor traffic has a strong negative impact on cycling. A cycling strategy can only work alongside a significant restraint on all types of motor vehicle.

The Dutch experience is not all about high quality cycle routes it is very much a combination of traffic restraint alongside cycle measures :-

A history of cycling innovation in the Netherlands

With 26% of all traffic movements done by bike (by far the highest proportion in Europe), the Dutch are the bicycle champions of the world. Our country has a bicycle-friendly infrastructure that promotes a healthier, more active lifestyle. Without wishing to boast, we can genuinely say that our country is a veritable trendsetter when it comes to sustainable transport. The Netherlands is a wealthy country in which 1 in 2 people owns a car. Bicycle use, however, is higher than anywhere else in the world.

So how did we do it?

Cycling has always been popular in the Netherlands. Since the 1960s, however, car-ownership and car-usage have increased significantly and bicycle usage has fallen, reaching an all-time low in 1978. Cities began to struggle with congestion, air pollution, a poorer quality of life and many traffic accidents. As a result, the government decided to develop a large array of measures to promote cycling, walking and traffic calming, such as:

- Reducing car access to city-centres and create car-free areas;
- Making parking in city-centres more expensive;
- Constructing cycle paths and reducing road space for cars;
- Facilitating cycling through cycle network planning, road design, signalling, parking and enforcement;
- Reducing maximum speed on the majority of urban roads to 30 km/h or less;
- Promoting cycling to encourage the use of bikes and discourage car-use.

It worked!

Bicycle use in cities increased. In 1975, 25% of all non-walking journeys in Amsterdam involved a bicycle. By 1995, this had increased to 35%. We also managed to improve the safety of cycling and traffic fatalities fell from 3,200 in 1972 to 700 in 2010.

The advantages

- You travel 10% faster in cities by bike than by car
- The quality of life in cities improves
- Traffic congestion reduces
- Local, city economies improve

So the TfGM cycling strategy must include measures to constrain the motor vehicle in the area. The road network will continue to carry the vast majority of journeys by pedal cycle for the medium term, and measures which reduce traffic levels have the capacity for the greatest success. Example measures should include:-

A default 20mph speed limit for the whole region.

A ban on HGVs entering all Greater Manchester regional centres.

A review of the conditions for cycling on the entire road network.

The reallocation of road capacity from motor vehicles to cycling, particularly along major routes into the regional centres, such as the A5103 Princess Road in South Manchester and the A56 into Manchester and Bury which follow journey desire lines. This will enable low cost high capacity cycle routes to be built using existing car lanes.

A reduction in the level of all types of motor vehicle parking available in all the regional centres and the removal of all waste ground (zombie) car parks

Removal of through traffic (rat runs) from all residential and retail areas

Closure of all regional centres to all private motor vehicles during periods of high air pollution.

Increased enforcement of parking where illegal parking impacts on cycle routes and cycle parking. It is not enough to supply sufficient cycle facilities in urban areas if it is then blocked by illegally parked motor vehicles.

Transport for Greater Manchester must put in more funds and effort into cycling than went into building the tram network if it is to create a true cycling culture in Greater Manchester. The tram network shows what TfGM can achieve, but this over investment in public transport has held back cycling (see appendix).

Cycling must be TfGM's next major infrastructure project.


Appendix: “The Dutch Bicycle Master Plan” March 1999

Page 26

An extensive system of public transport already existed in Manchester (700,000 inhabitants) and Basle (160,000 inhabitants) before 1940, so that the modal share of the bicycle (in relation to the total bicycle, public transport and car trips) only reached a maximum of 25 per cent (Manchester) and 15 per cent (Basle). Why there was a significantly better and more extensive public transport system in Manchester and Basle in particular is difficult to establish. In Manchester it may have had to do with early suburbanization, while in Basle it may have been the result of its specific morphological and spatial structure, i.e. an elongated, densely constructed city in a narrow valley.

Page 32

Local policy: Dutch cities compared to other Western European cities

This pattern of limited attention to a decrease in bicycle use was also clearly seen at a local level, though with considerable variation - and even more so in other Western European cities (Figure 10). In Manchester and Antwerp, for example, the bicycle no longer played a role in conceptualization and policy after 1950 as the bicycle share plummeted to less than 20 per cent of the total number of bicycle, moped, public transport and car trips. In Copenhagen, on the other hand, the bicycle share fell "only" from 50 to 30 per cent.

Page 103

- The three cities with a low bicycle share (around ten per cent or less): Antwerp, Basle and Manchester:

In Antwerp and Manchester, the decline that set in due to the rise of the car continued without "restraint" because all relevant influential factors pointed in the same direction, i.e. a negative collective image, strong car-orientated policy, development of large-scale car infrastructure, strong suburbanization and diffuse transport relationships. The lower share of the bicycle in the 1930's in Manchester than in Basle is still making itself felt to this day.

Friday 4 April 2014

Oldham Cyclists Forum Mon April 7th

This is not even on the Council's web site.

There will be a "Cyclists Forum" at Oldham council's Civic Centre this Monday April 7th from 6 to 7 pm.

To confirm a place email or text your name to 07860 003006.