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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Metrolink: (Further) Degrading Floop accessibility

A few weeks ago, during my tandem test weekend, I noticed that the already irritating barriers installed prior to the tram crossing at the Chorlton end of the Floop had been re-positioned to provide a serious (possibly impenetrable) barrier to access for anyone riding a cargo bike, tandem, tag-along, bike trailer, modified disability cycle or anyone using a mobility scooter or other mobility aid.

The irritating and unnecessary barriers to access which already existed on the Floop have been well documented. Whilst these barriers should be ripped out as a matter of priority, it is worse still to introduce new barriers, and then to re-position them so as to produce maximum inconvenience to users of the Floop.


Facing towards Fallowfield


Other side of the tracks, facing towards Chorlton

The fact that this work was done recently (and shoddily) combined with the fact that the barriers had already been installed once previously, makes me wonder what consultative processes Metrolink’s barrier redesign went through before being approved by the local authority, cycling campaigns, disability groups, pedestrian groups, Sustrans, Friends of the Fallowfield Loop and so on. My guess is that the work was done without any consultation whatsover, and that the issue of the degradation of access to one of the only cycle facilities in Greater Manchester must therefore be raised at the next Manchester Cycle Forum.


Users of cargo bikes (particularly when loaded) face great difficulties when trying to pass the poorly re-designed barriers.


The tandem, being approximately 20 cm longer than a Yuba Mundo, presented its own problems when attempting to pass this barrier

This barrier re-design, whist only a small local issue, embodies everything which is wring with provision for cycling in the UK; the assumption that making cycling inconvenient isn’t a problem because anyone on a cycle is obviously only doing so for leisure. They couldn’t possibly be trying to conveniently get somewhere in a timely manner, or they’d have gone by car, right?


  1. A major part of the problem is the status of cycling in the UK. It is regarded solely as leisure activity and not a legitimate form of transport. Until this perception is changed, we will struggle to make forward progress...

  2. Obviously no councillor cycles this route. Currently I live in Denmark where cycling is encouraged, not actively hindered as it is in Manchester as your example shows. I’m in a town called Aarhus which is Denmark’s second biggest city. And I can tell you that no where have they used such a monstrosity to block a cycle path. In fact there are no bike traps of any kind anywhere. It’s all totally unhindered. As a result, there are quite a lot of cyclists here. Why does the UK think this type of obstacle improves anything. It’s just in the way. Rip it out. Just imagine something similar for cars. How long would it last? JCB anyone?
    (Google wont let me comment, dunno why, so not anonyms. Calvers.)

  3. What utter rubbish. My last ride that way with a camera was 26th June, when they looked like this so the damage has been done since then.

    The latest repositioning just about screws up any prospect of getting anything other than a standard bike onto the Fallowfield loop from the Cholton end, and just adds to the barriers on the route.

    As the local council seat has just gone from Lib-dem to Labour there will be a real fight next year so it is really worth getting the local councillors involved.

  4. P.S. Are those secondary barriers just attached by gaffa tape?

  5. @Kim,

    It is a massive problem. Whenever I talk to a "normal" about investment in cycling and cycle infrastructure, I can see them considering it in terms of leisure centres and five a side facilities, rather than in terms of motorways and railways (ie: transport).


    I must admit that I am slightly jealous of your Danish experience. I bet you'll miss living in a country where the government doesn't actively hinder cycling if and when you return to the UK.

    Sadly, the barrier seems quite sturdy.


    Yes, the secondary barriers are held on with gaffer tape (and a bit of wire), despite the fact that they don't seem to play much of an important role (the gaps they cover are quite small anyway), other than making the area visually unappealing. The surface isn't too bad on any of my bikes, made better by the perpendicular-ness of the crossing. I remember reading somewhere that the only place that the official guidelines suggest using a "Cyclists Dismount" sign is for non-perpendicular level crossings. For all other bits of infrastructure they should never, ever be seen as necessary unless there is a serious deficiency in the design of the facility.

  6. do we know what disability/equality legislation has to say about these? (assuming it's a shared use path)

    the towards Chorlton path looks way too narrow. does the tramway really need such a wide verge?

  7. To be honest, it is a pleasure cycling here (Denmark). You know, just today, I cycled down the big hill from work (about 3 miles long) seeing how far I could go ‘no hands’. Although the big hill is also a main road, there is a totally segregated cycle strip running along side. There are curb stones and a slightly elevated tarmac strip, just for bikes, like most places here. And with right-of-way over cars at all junctions you can coast all the way from top to bottom. Stopping only for traffic lights. Anyway, I managed oh, a really long way, before I had to grab the bars again, and that was because of a slower lady cyclist. Not a car. I haven’t done that since I was seven years old. Fantastic!

  8. Have you contacted TfGM about it?

    It doesn't seem to me to comply with DDA/Part M of the Building Regulations.


  9. I've just remembered - these barriers are hear to ensure that people stop and don't cycle straight into the path of a tram. That must be why they moved them - because a BMX bike would go straight round.

    On the Bristol to Bath cycle path they use spring loaded gates which let a tandem through easily.

    Take a look at this photo

  10. "...I haven’t done that since I was seven years old. Fantastic!"

    Calvers, sounds like you're living the dream ;>D


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