Wednesday 5 June 2024

TFGM's Abandoned Bike Hubs

Not sure whether the TFGM Cycle Hubs themselves have been abandoned, or whether they mostly contain abandoned bikes these days, but the situation I found in Bury and Bolton a few weeks ago looked pretty sad.

These headline grabbing schemes were always a bad idea. The one in Manchester City Centre in an underground car park cost £500,000 which works out at £2,500 for each cycle parking space, and that is only if it was fully utilised. Similarly, the above ground, Bolton hub cost £350,000 for 200 spaces, a mere £1,750 per parking space.


On a recent weekday visit to Bolton I saw how the hub has evolved.

While on the outside it still looks like a functioning site, the interior tells a different story


 And close up the bikes look like some may have been abandoned.

A total of 7 bicycles on a normal weekday morning in a facility designed for 200 demonstrates the failure of these projects. At a total cost of £350,000 for the facility that is £50,000 per bike!


A few days later in Bury the situation was much the same and unlike the Bolton hub, this one takes some finding, being hidden away behind the Bury Interchange in the car park. The Bury Local Transport Plan "The cycle hub is remote from the Metrolink and bus facilities...." Though it goes on to say it "lacks capacity.

 Well it would certainly not appear to lack capacity, at least in its current form. Again there were only 7 bikes in the facility, though these did look in better condition, as if the bicycles are still being used.

There were also plenty of unused bike locks, many of which may have been abandoned,

along with the contents of some of the lockers.

The lesson from all of this is that these schemes were designed to be headline grabbing projects for government ministers to open and had nothing to do with the practicalities of commuting by bike.

Wednesday 22 May 2024

They've shrunk Wigan!

I'm returning to a rather old project which got parked in the long grass many years ago. I won't share details yet as I may not have time to finish it, but I will say that it involves maps, specifically maps of cycle routes to complement the route descriptions on this blog. So my starting point was to try and get my hands on copies of all the Transport for Greater Manchester cycle network maps. That didn't succeed, as the 2022 maps are now out of print and TFGM are waiting for all the local councils to update their routes, so despite several attempts I still don't have copies of three of the maps.

So, the alternative approach was to download the PDF versions of the maps and print them out on A3 paper. This turned out to be quite a good way of visualising the GM cycle routes as I could tape the sheets together and make one big GM cycling map, except there was one problem...

The sheets for Wigan, on the left, could be matched up with each other, but didn't fit into the rest of the maps. It took a few attempts before the penny dropped, they are a different scale to the rest of the maps. While the scale on the Wigan maps insist that the map is a 1:16,000 scale, like all the others, it is actually 1:20,000. On closer inspection it is clear that the Wigan maps have been shrunk, rather than re-scaled, with smaller text and narrower lines.

So, possibly ever since they were first produced, the Wigan cycle network maps have been printed with the wrong scale, just one of the many errors that persist in this map series, along with non-existent cycle routes

I eventually managed to fit Wigan into the rest of the maps by up-scaling the sheets on the printer, so I can get on with the next stage of the project.

Saturday 27 April 2024

12 years of Popup Bikes

It is now over 12 years since Popup Bikes first opened its doors. I visited it within a couple of months of the opening and wrote a post about it. The place started out aiming at coffee and cycle parking with some bike repair and has evolved into a thriving bike repair operation with coffee. Unlike many mainstream cycle shops in Manchester, Popup has not only survived lockdown it has flourished with a workshop that is busier than ever.

 The workshop soon grew in size and moved down to the far end of the arch.

 The slope now accommodates stock, customer bike parking and the latest acquisition, a mobile workshop in an electrically assisted trailer

There is not just freshly made coffee and snacks now, there is also ground coffee for sale.

 And the cafe area has been improved, though sadly the lawnmower has gone...

I can thoroughly recommend Popup Bikes. Three of my machines have been serviced there and that included a major rebuild of my touring bike and they always do a really good job. May the place thrive for another 12 years!