Monday 29 September 2014

Salford Cycle Forum - 9 October 2014

The next meeting of Salford Cycle Forum will be on Thursday 9 October, 6pm in Committee Room 3, Salford Civic Centre, Chorley Road, Swinton, M27 5BY.

The meeting will include:

2014/15 Scheme Delivery & Scheme Development including the Cycle City Ambition Grant (CCAG), the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF), the Irlams o’ th’ Height roundabout and Confirmation of development schemes for 2014/15.

Maintenance - Identification of key issues and concerns regarding maintenance, which affect cycling.

Future Scheme delivery & Scheme Development - 2015/16 capital programme, 2015/16 cycle scheme development and suggestions for future schemes.

Bus lane enforcement on Liverpool Street

Future Meetings are planned for 15 January 2015, 16 April 2015, 16 July 2015 and 15 October 2015

Sunday 28 September 2014

Ashton Canal 2 - Ancoats to Clayton

Continuing for just over two miles from Ashton Canal 1 - Piccadilly to Ancoats this is the point where the Manchester Cycleway joins the canal as NCN 86.

The access to this point from Old Mill Street is very poor at the moment because of the building works.

Once on the towpath the going gets a lot better. Just ahead and to the left is the former course of the Islington Branch, now a marina.

Past the lifting bridge are the new blocks of flats.

Once under under Carruthers Street, the path becomes rougher.

As you approach the bridge under Beswick Street the MERCi building is on the opposite bank.

The path surface improves beyond and after Cambrian Street, curves to the right

then after the low bridge under New Viaduct Street and the railway the path turns to the left and the football stadium comes into view.

Now there is a further flight of locks. The path up the first one is good,

but the second and third both have steep cobbled surfaces and are best walked on a small-wheeled bike.

At the next bridge the canal passes under the Alan Turing Way.

After the bridge, turn left onto the cycle track. Here NCN 86 carries on into Philip's Park and NCN 60 now joins from the Alan Turing Way. Turn left again off the cycle track and back onto the canal towpath.

The path surface is less smooth now, but still tarmaced.

You can't miss the bridge over to the velodrome.

At this point in the ride I was joined by Ian Tate, who's back now features in many of the following photographs.This point in the path, just after the Velodrome bridge is probably the entrance to the Clayton Arm of the canal.

There are several barriers and Cyclists Dismount signs along this section, but all the gates are now opened, so the barriers can all be bypassed.

Under the next bridge and the path has been recently resurfaced and widened as part of the development of the football academy on the right.

The path alongside the lock 9 has into small steps

and then by lock 10 it is cobbled again.

After lock 10 the junction with the path along the old Stockport Branch is clearly signposted. NCN 60 turns off to the right at this point whilst the Ashton canal continues over the bridge which goes over the canal junction itself.

Next section going east is Ashton Canal 3 Clayton to the Fairfield Junction, going south is the Stockport Branch Canal.

View Ashton Canal 2 in a larger map

Ashton Canal 1 - Piccadilly to Ancoats

This is the beginning of the Ashton Canal, and is not an official cycle route. The canal begins in Piccadilly Basin, here access is only via steps from Ducie Street, and the route starts on a very low bridge turning back under Ducie Street.

The bridge is very low.

The towpath then winds around the new developments and over this bridge. From here the path is ridable, up till this point it is best to walk.

Next is Store Street Aqueduct, originally built over Shooter's Brook,

but that has long since been culverted and is now the route of Store Street.

Next is Piccadilly Village, somewhat artificial and sterile.

Another bridge takes the towpath over another side basin, and the path then goes under the A665.

Past the first lock is the lock keeper's cottage.

At this point the towpath turns into an official cycle route

Next, Ashton Canal 2 - Ancoats to Stockport Canal Junction.

View Ashton Canal 1 in a larger map

Saturday 27 September 2014

Superb September Critical Mass

September's Critical Mass was the first one in a long time to be able to properly meet up outside the library. The newly re-opened space provided a relaxed atmosphere for people to meet up and chat in comfort.

Around 140 people moved off past the Town Hall Extension to the sound of at least 4 sound systems.

The ride went along Fountain Street and into High Street, through Shudehill

and into the Northern Quarter. There was a  really strong party mood this month, lots of people determined to have fun.

There were several people with cameras shooting video. This one was hand held

whilst this was a rather neat, bike mounted approach.

As we moved into Portland Street the ride slowed down somewhat, this was apparently caused by a police officer on a bicycle trying to do most of the corking himself. I was told he seemed to be putting himself in quite some danger by doing so.

Still, this didn't dampen  mood in the rest of the ride.

The sound systems continued to blast out the music

and one notable new machine was the Errand Trike, a new cycle based business in Manchester moving loads of up to 250kg.

There was a great make-some-noise moment under the railway in Great Bridgewater Street.

Everyone seemed to be having fun.

I left the ride as it turned south down Deansgate.

Roll on Halloween Critical Mass - 31st October, same place, same time.

P.S. the music I was playing was T.Power – The Self Evident Truth Of An Intuitive Mind

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Four Minutes to Cross the Road

Manchester City Council have shown us several plans for Velocity where people cycling will be expected to use toucan crossings.

The way the City Council engineers phase the traffic lights in Manchester this will delay people cycling by quite some considerable length of time and far longer than if they just stayed on the road.

Here is how the phasing of one current set of lights can delay me by up to four minutes on my way to work.

Just imagine the backlash from the motoring lobby if traffic lights in Manchester were set to delay drivers for this length of time.

Wednesday 10 September 2014

Yesterday's Manchester Cycle Forum

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.

These included:-

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!

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Oldham Cycling Forum

The next meeting of the Oldham Cycling Forum will be Wednesday 17th September 6-7pm at the Civic Centre, West Street, Oldham, OL1 1UL.

Please email or text 0161 770 4676 if you want to attend.

Monday 8 September 2014

Peak Forest Canal - Ashton to Hyde

This path from Ashton to Hyde along the towpath of the Peak Forest Canal is not marked on the TfGM cycling map for Tameside, but it does appear on the Ordinance Survey Explorer map, marked as a traffic-free cycle route and labelled as the Tame Valley Way. This two and a third mile long section is well surfaced, entirely level and free from cycle barriers along its length. It is a very pleasant bike ride, but slightly spoilt by the smell from the many sewage works along the route. Unfortunately south of Hyde the path degrades considerably.

The Canal starts at Portland Basin, opposite the Industrial Museum which also has a cafe, providing a useful tea stop if you have cycled here some distance. Access from Ashton-under-Lyne town centre is via the Ashton Canal tow path, which slopes gradually down from Cavendish Street, opposite the Asda supermarket, and has no access barriers. However, from this direction you will need to get over the steep cobbled bridge to get to the tow path.

You can't miss the start.

To the left of the sign, go under the towpath bridge and round to the right

and immediately over the River Tame on a stone aqueduct. On the left is the Portland Basin Marina which is on the Alma Street Branch.

The canal then passes under the ornate railway bridge, the former site of Duckinfield Central station.

Beyond the railway, the view of the River Tame opens up briefly

and the path takes on a pleasant rural character.

The path is surfaced with a light-coloured tarmac finish that blends in well with the surroundings, whilst marking it out clearly.

There were a few boats and the occasional angler when I rode the route.

The next bridge is a lift bridge which is the access to Plantation Farm.

Beyond the canal gently curves to the left

and then passes under another railway bridge. This one has rather limited headroom.

The next road bridge is the only serious obstacle for larger cycles

because the path under the bridge is quite narrow and uneven.

To the right side of the canal you get the occasional view of the sewage works and other industrial plants, showing the rural character is a well crafted illusion.

This bridge provides access to Globe Lane.

On the opposite bank you pass Warble Boatyard.

The next bridge gives access across the canal to Newton Hall, a reconstructed 14th century house and on the right is Jet Amber Fields.

There is a final section of a rural character

before the canal hits the M67 motorway where it was realigned.

Beyond the motorway lies Hyde Wharf.

Here the high quality surface suddenly ends to be replaced by a narrow grit track.

Passing under the Manchester Road Bridge the towpath is sent up and over the canal, though there is now a stretch of bridal way on the other side.

From here the towpath is narrow and unsurfaced

and soon degrades into stretches of deep mud, so it is best to leave the path at Manchester Road, unless the weather has been very dry, or you don't mind getting very muddy...

View Peak Forest Canal 1 in a larger map