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This blog has re-located to Chester

Friday 30 October 2009

Places not to cycle in Manchester #1

In addition to the places in Manchester which provide a pleasant dedicated cycleway such as the Fallowfield Loop, there are also many roads which are pleasant to ride along.  The best Manchester road riding can generally be found on streets without cycle lanes, due to the incompetent efforts of the local council in providing a cycling “infrastructure” which takes the form of inconsistent cycle lanes which often take you onto the pavement (such as at the precinct near Whitworth Hall off Oxford Road).  The problem with these lanes is that people waking in the vicinity of these clearly-marked green cycle lanes seem to unconsciously gravitate towards them like some kind of retarded moth, forcing any cyclist who uses the lane to slow down to walking speed, rendering them pointless.  An additional problem with this particular example of a road-adjacent cycle lane is that it is approximately 500 m long, and if you are heading south it requires you to cross the road twice at two sets of lights which are set to give you a disadvantage (I just use the road).

The situation with on-road cycle lanes is not much better.  Take Parrs Wood Road as an example, providing a potential alternative to Wilmslow Road or Kingsway  for those travelling from Fallowfield to Parrs Wood or Didsbury.  I can see the logic in putting a cycle lane in on this road in theory, however because it is a residential area and the cycle lane is not coupled with double-yellow lines, the whole cycle lane is rendered useless by the sheer number of parked cars in the cycle lane.  I would go as far as to say that the council have actually reduced cyclists’ safety on that particular road due to the effect of risk compensation on the part of motorists who generally see that white line and the 8 mm of green tarmac and then switch off with respect to checking adequately for cyclists.

Seymore Grove links Chorlton to Old Trafford and acts as a link between the Fallowfield Loop and the River Irwell/Salford Quays.  It is also home to one of the narrowest cycle lanes I have encountered in Manchester:


I feel I can highlight this further with an action-shot:


Now bikes, as we all know are fairly narrow vehicles.  You may think me old-fashioned for feeling that a lane designed for a particular vehicle should be at least slightly wider than said vehicle, but it’s just one of my quirks.  The first picture highlights another issue I have with the cycle lane policy of the local councils, the cycle lane puts the cyclist directly in the door-zone of the cars parked on the roadside, which puts anyone who uses it in danger.  If the lane simply did not exist then cyclists would feel more comfortable riding outside of the door-zone without encountering aggressive “Back in yer lane” behaviour from motorists.

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