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Cycle route extending along Manchester Road

by Iain Roberts on 20 January, 2014

As we get more and more traffic on our roads, we know that the best solution we have is to get at least some people out of their cars and onto bikes, foot, buses, trains and trams. We can’t just build more roads – there’s no space (the A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road is the first major new road built in Stockport for 30 years and it will help reduce traffic in our villages, but it isn’t a cure).

There are a lot of people who don’t currently cycle, but say they would if there were safe routes end-to-end. At the moment we have lots of partial cycle routes that still require cyclists to navigate big and busy junctions or take long detours.

So we’ve set out to start creating those end-to-end cycle routes and get more people out of cars and onto bikes. It’ll take time: they’ve done it in Denmark and the Netherlands, but they’ve also been at it for thirty years. But you’ve got to start somewhere!

One route will enable people to cycle from south of Cheadle into Manchester or Stockport without having to go through Cheadle village or navigate junctions like Roscoe’s roundabout, and another critical section of that route is now being planned.

The complete route takes people off Wilmslow Road at Warren Avenue, then crosses Gatley Road at a new Toucan crossing, goes along The Crescent, Hall Street and Brook Road, along the newly-widened path to Mill Lane and then up to the Alexandra Hospital.

This new section will widen the footpath along Manchester Road into a wide, joint footway/cycleway that takes people either into Manchester or up to the Transpennine Trail.

The section of the Transpennine Trail from Manchester Road into Stockport will be widened and tarmacced – hopefully in the next year or two – as part of Greater Manchester’s successful Cycle City bid which will also see cycle paths from Cheadle right into the centre of Manchester.

   18 Comments

18 Responses

  1. Alex Masidlover says:

    I’ve cycled Manchester Road a fair few times (although its not my regular commute) and although traffic does usually break the speed limit there, thanks to the reasonably wide road and good sight lines the overtakes are generally pretty safe.

    The problems with the proposed changes are:

    1) Every little driveway and turning gets priority over the cycle way – it will take forever to navigate that safely!

    2) The main carriage way will get narrower meaning vehicles will come dangerously close to cyclists who ‘choose’ to use the uninterrupted right of way (the road).

    3) Drivers become increasingly aggressive to cyclists who ‘choose’ to use the road ‘because there is a perfectly good cycle path that our road tax paid for’…

    I deliberately put ‘choose’ in inverted commas, since the design speed of the shared paths is 10mph and a commuting cyclist will typically be looking to do 15-25 mph (even a ‘slow’ cyclist will frequently go above 10 mph).

    What we need is to forget these shared use paths and only put in segregated lanes where they can actually be done properly – then spend remaining cash on educating traffic planners, motorists and cyclists on how to share the space safely.

  2. bruce thwaite says:

    As a cyclist, and although I do not cycle this particular route, this in my view is a complete waste of money. Any serious/regular cyclist is NOT going to go on a tour of Cheadle if he/she is travelling that particular way. Well intentioned it may be but do you ever ask any cyclists as to their views?

    Also, I notice that the other cycling scheme up Kingsway is not as originally planned. What is the latest on this?

  3. Iain Roberts says:

    Bruce – yes, we consult with cyclists. You hit the nail on the head when you talk about “serious/regular cyclist”. This is not aimed primarily at people who currently cycle, but the many who would if they felt safer but currently choose not to.

    That’s how we can get the proportion of journeys by bike up from 2% now to 10% in a few years time.

    The Kingsway route is proceding much as planned, the only difference is that the route will now use the underpass rather than going across the slip road from Parrs Wood onto the M60 at a Toucan Crossing.

    Alex –

    On your points:

    1. You’re right about driveways; it’s why we’re very careful to use shared paths only where there are few pedestrians and few or no driveways.

    2 & 3. That is an issue. However, the evidence is absolutely clear – if you ask cyclists to use the roads as now, you will never get above 3-4% of journeys made on bike. You’ll cycle, I’ll cycle but hundreds of others who could do will choose not to. If you provide off-road routes, you can get more people onto bikes which is better for everyone.

    Yes, there are trade-offs, but the evidence we have from around the world and elsewhere in the UK is that this way can work in getting more people cycling.

    The debate is a long-standing one between the John Franklin camp on one side and the Dutch/Danish experience on the other.

  4. June says:

    I welcome improvements to the cycle/pedestrian paths and do prefer to cycle off road whenever possible. Cycle paths do encourage me to use my bike.

    However, i wonder about some of the “improvements”:
    At the junction of Wilmslow Rd/ Warren Avenue, the curb has been extended right out into the road, so forcing cyclists out into the main stream of traffic where this hasn’t been necessary up until now. I can’t see how this will help at all and looks more dangerous to me?

  5. Iain Roberts says:

    Hi June,

    The reason for the change is so that cyclists coming up Warren Avenue can turn right onto Wilmslow Road more safely.

    The centre line on Wilmslow Road will shortly be moved over a little to maintain the lane width past Warren Avenue.

  6. Jennifer says:

    But there has been no work done on this since the end of last year and the cones are still there, the filling in round the edging stones is still missing and it is generally a dangerous situation. Why can’t the job be finished NOW?

  7. Iain Roberts says:

    Because to paint out and repaint a new centre line means a temporary closure of at least part of the road, which has to be properly organised and scheduled – but should be done very shortly.

  8. Jennifer says:

    The painting has NOTHING to do with the lack of filler between the new kerb stones and the road and the cones which are still there.
    The men who will be painting the lines will not be same ones who fill in the gaps ( unless, of course, they now multi-task)

  9. John C says:

    I think presenting this as a clash between the Franklin, and Dutch approaches is somewhat misleading. I suspect you’d be hard pressed to find a Dutch facility on a significant commuting link that forced the crossing of a major road twice, and expected to accommodate both bidirectional cycle traffic *and* pedestrian traffic in such limited space.

  10. Phil S says:

    Hi

    This route is part of my daily cycle to work and I agree with Alex Masidlover. The changes suggested mean people like myself will be required to give way on side roads and make at least two road crossings. This would mean my journey as it is would be slower and even more hazardous than in already is. This would NOT encourage more people to cycle for exactly those reasons. Also, it seems a little pointless to make these changes to the boundary of another Council and not work cohesively to ensure cyclists can cross the boundaries in a seamless fashion.

    I live in Stockport and work in Manchester. I want my commute to be easy, quick and safe – the proposed changes make this stretch more hazardous than it currently is.

    • Iain Roberts says:

      Hi Phil,

      Just to be clear: there is absolutely no proposal to force cyclists to use the cycle paths if they don’t want to, but many people who would cycle will not currently use the roads and need a safer (if slightly slower) alternative.

      I agree absolutely that if we were not working with Manchester it would be pointless. That’s exactly why our schemes are worked to join up with Manchester’s. That’s not to say that there won’t be some time lag between different schemes being completed, but they should all join up when the work is done.

  11. Steve P says:

    “but many people who would cycle will not currently use the roads and need a safer (if slightly slower) alternative.”

    Sorry to have to spell this out: crossing a 40mph road twice is not safer than cycling up it, and losing priority at three side roads is neither safer nor going to encourage novices.

    These plans are from the last century, treating cyclists as pedestrians simply doesn’t work.

    The coercion to use these paths will come from aggressive motorists, who will see a terrible, expensive, facility, presume it’s good, and presume we’re being bloodyminded by sticking to the road. I can assure you these motorists exist, and do verbally and physically intimidate cyclists.

    There are not two kinds of cyclists – if these paths wouldn’t work for a normal commuter, they won’t work for anyone.

    The problems using this road are chiefly the awkward junctions at either end, and the difficulty of filtering past the queues of stationary cars. I use this road to commute to work, it is the last safe approach to Manchester from this direction – the A6 and A34 are dangerous and hostile.

    Please think again before destroying this vital link with these well-intentioned but awful plans. I’m considerably distressed by how bad these plans are and the negative impact they would have on my journey to work.

    I’ve shown them around a dozen cyclists now, novices, recent converts and regular riders. None of them feel safe losing priority at side roads – indeed none of the sideroads where priority would be lost are even major, one is just a track. None of them want to cross a 40mph road twice for no good reason – most of them have asked why the plans don’t feature simple protected lanes up either side of the road that maintain priority over side roads.

    I suspect the answer is that none of the people involved in drawing up or approving these plans cycles regularly or keeps up with modern cycling infrastructure.
    If they did these plans would look radically different.

    These are not plans for novice cyclists, they are plans by and for motorists. Please don’t wreck this last safe route.

    • Iain Roberts says:

      Hi Steve,

      I won’t go through your points in detail; just to say that these are plans drawn up by regular cyclists who very much keep up with modern cycling infrastructure.

      We started off speaking to the people behind the Dutch cycling success. We talked about what was realistically possible – the Dutch didn’t suddenly transform their roads overnight, it was a gradual approach over a couple of decades. The answer to your protected lanes question is, of course, that they aren’t protected (unless you take the view that a bit of paint has some major protective effect on drivers).

      If you want to discuss the plans in more detail, I hope you’ll come along to one of our regular Cycle User Group meetings at the Town Hall when we do exactly that. Let me know if you want more info on those.

  12. Steve P says:

    I’ve cycled in the Netherlands, France and Japan. I’ve never seen anything in any of those countries which denied priority to cyclists at every minor side road. Indeed in Japan and NL priority is also maintained for pedestrians over side roads.

    Protected lanes doesn’t mean paint – protected means, at minimum, a kerb to prevent vehicle entry to the lane.

    Though the Dutch didn’t transform overnight, they didn’t make cycling more dangerous as part of the process. For example Seville and Bogota did transform overnight (5 years!), by not compromising on continuous, safe infrastructure.

    These plans resemble an obstacle course, they will not be tempting novices by adding additional hazards.

    I can see the temptation of offering a nice 2 way lane along one side, but it needs to be continuous for the whole length of the road and deal with the junctions at each end sensibly, not dump us out to filter into queued traffic from the right across oncoming 40mph traffic just as the road narrows. I suggest you ride up there at rush hour and attempt this crossing, just to see how bad it feels.

    Thanks for the response, but I just can’t believe anyone involved has ridden this road.

  13. Iain Roberts says:

    Hi Steve,

    You raise the issue of priority at side roads – and you’re right that it’s significant, but not something we can solve road-by-road I’d say (and not a reason to sit back and do nothing until it is solved).

    I’m not clear how you suggest people get to Stockport without crossing over Manchester Road.

    I’ve ridden the road many times, and I’ve also cycled in the Netherlands. I appreciate you have concerns. I’m sure you’ve looked in detail at the full Velocity plans that this is part of and if you want to get together for a chat about how it all fits together and why we’re taking the approach we are then I’ll be more than happy to do that.

  14. James says:

    Looking forward to this. I live in Sale and commute to Cheadle and want to cycle to work in the lighter months, avoiding roads as much as possible. Hence, following the Transpennine route from Sale to Didsbury and then down into Cheadle via this new route would be great. Currently, I must come off the TP route at Northenden and cycle thru Gatley. Not good.
    What’s the ETA for the new route?
    James

  15. Phil Norton says:

    When is this route going to be finished? I’ve read the above dating back to January 2014, almost 2 years ago, yet still the cycle path is still not finished and causing accidents, aggrevation and questions to all. Not very good value to the taxpayer is it?

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