Events Infrastructure

Infrastructure safari with local leaders


On Wednesday 27th September Walk Ride GM led a safari by cycle with attendees including Councillor Tom Ross, leader of Trafford Council, and Councillor Tracey Rawlings, Executive Member for Environment and Transport at Manchester City Council.  The forecast high winds thankfully didn’t materialise and we enjoyed a dry sunset tour of active travel infrastructure in Manchester, Trafford and Salford.

Will piloting from the back wheel of a trishaw, with Harry enjoying the comfy seat over the front to wheels protected by a sun/rain canopy

We met outside Bridgwater Hall with our range of cycles drawing interest from the passing public – particularly the electric trishaw (tricycle rickshaw) that we were lent by Chorlton Bike Deliveries to enable Councillor Rawlins to attend and experience the roads by cycle.  Steering group members Harry and Will are both now trained trishaw pilots – if you ever want to attend a Walk Ride GM event but can’t ride a standard bicycle, please get in touch and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.

Walk Ride GM want our infrastructure to offer options for everyone regardless of age, mobility or disabilities, so we’re pleased to say that all of the infrastructure we rode was navigable by the trishaw which is a little over one metre wide.  Some places could still be improved – we had to slow down at various narrow pinch points and tight bends, and the ramp down to the Regent Road Roundabout has some steep turns that would have tipped the trike if taken at speed.  Otherwise we were slightly delayed on the way to and from the event by cars blocking the Chorlton Cycle way (although in both instances the driver swiftly moved out of the way and apologised).

From Bridgwater Hall we rode down Medlock Street feeling exposed until we joined the shared use path to the segregated cycle crossings taking us under the Mancunian Way – a really well-built and pleasant to use bit of infrastructure at a previously horrible junction.  We noticed that as a slow-moving group of ten or so, we quickly filled the space available for cycles and other people out on bikes were delayed behind us.  This was partly due to the size and nature of our group, but on several occasions during the tour we questioned whether councils are still leaning toward the “absolute minimum” rather than “recommended desirable” widths for people walking and cycling.

Turning right and following Stretford Road, a car driver honked and shouted at two of our party, apparently for riding two abreast and therefore not staying entirely within the cycle lane.  It’s worth reiterating the Highway Code Rules 61 and 66 here:

You can ride two abreast and it can be safer to do so, particularly in larger groups or when accompanying children or less experienced riders.

You can ride two abreast and it can be safer to do so, particularly in larger groups or when accompanying children or less experienced riders.

We all remained calm, didn’t escalate the situation, and felt that it was actually useful for attendees who don’t normally cycle to have experienced some of the unpleasantness that cyclists can face just for using our roads as they’re supposed to.  We all have a right to the roads and should not have to suffer abuse.  It’s worth also saying that most pedestrians and cyclists don’t want to be amongst cars – if you see them not using dedicated infrastructure it’s very often because that infrastructure is not of good enough quality.

We detoured down the Chorlton Cycle Way for a bit to experience three of the CYCLOPS junctions – really brilliant pieces of design that provide segregated space for pedestrians and cyclists whilst maintaining the normal flow of traffic.  With all the controversy in the news and social media, it’s important to remember that good infrastructure is not about stopping journeys – it simply protects people making the choice to be more active.

Turning north up to Chester Road we saw how space for cycling can be delivered quickly and inexpensively – Trafford Council have created some impressively wide cycle lanes segregated from cars by light plastic wands.  Although relatively low-cost, this was the first infrastructure we saw on the ride that allowed cyclists to comfortably ride side-by-side or overtake without mixing with motor traffic.  Harry Gray said to Tom Ross how great it was to see a council have the political will to remove some on-road parking spaces.  During the scheme consultation, several Walk Ride GM members had pointed out that alternative parking was available nearby and that keeping the on-road parking risked cyclists being hit by carelessly-opened car doors.  We had a good chat about the benefits of delivering more of the active travel network quickly and cheaply – a polished permanent scheme might take years to deliver, but these resurfaced and lightly protected lanes are benefiting people here and now, and helps built demand for future improvements.

Next we rejoined the general traffic flow to tackle the huge roundabout at White City.  This was an uncomfortable experience for everyone, even staying together as a large and visible group.  Impatient drivers cut us up repeatedly to save only a couple of seconds.  We could have avoided the roundabout with a 1-mile detour to the next bridge – the point being that a good active travel network does not force people to make a choice between feeling safe or going miles out of their way.

At this point dusk began to close in so we made rapid time along Trafford Road – really good segregated cycle tracks apart from some sections flanked by vertical kerbs, and the infamous cycle roundabout at Rowland Street which is perfectly fine to ride, perhaps less good for pedestrians with visual impairments, but mostly baffling that it exists when a bit of unmarked pavement would do the job!

At Regent Road Roundabout underpass, we noticed that it was hard work getting the trishaw up the steep gradients, and had to slam the brakes on hard encountering oncoming cyclists at blind bends – but still a much better experience than navigating White City roundabout without underpasses.

Finally we zoomed down the best cycle path in the city – Liverpool Street – noting the greenery planted in sustainable drainage systems, the smooth surfaces and well-thought-out bends which force cyclists to ease their speed and be aware when approaching pedestrian crossings near bus stops.  It links up nicely to both Oldfield Road (for central Salford) and to the Ordsall footbridge (for central Manchester) – the beginnings of a proper joined-up network!   Our trishaw was just able to squeeze between the anti-terrorism bollards at Factory International and we went up Liverpool Road to drop our guests off in time for a Metrolink from St Peter’s Square.

Would your local politicians or council officers benefit from experiencing the roads on a bike?

Write to them and copy us in!

  We love getting decision-makers out walking, wheeling and cycling – and showing them where improvements are still needed.


4 replies on “Infrastructure safari with local leaders”

It’s a pity there is zero support for stopping up cycle routes by Manchester metropolitan university who have stopped up Cavendish street to cycles for a tiny part of a cross city cycle route from the city centre to Trafford MMU lied in emails to objections that all rights would remain then closed them

While its admiral that the provisions for cycling from the city centre to the south of Manchester, what the hell happens from town cycling the Cheetham hill road of death apart from a few painted green squares.
Nothing has changed in years

Agree completely Paul, please do talk to your local councillors and let them know this is important to you.

Note that Cheetham Hill Road appears on Manchester’s active travel Network Plan – see page 26 here:

So you have every right to ask them how and when they’re going to deliver this.

We think councils need to be spending regular road maintenance funds on e.g. orca wand-protected bike lanes – build quick effective measures now and beautify later – don’t wait years for national funding to be handed down!


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