Consultation Reply – Bridgwater Way link to Deansgate

The Bridgewater Way route (pictured below) is not perfect for cycling, as it’s not the widest route and you have to be considerate of the dogwalkers and schoolchildren who also have to use the route, but compared to the busy, tight stretches of the a56 through South Manchester, it is a (slightly bumpy) joy.

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So it’s unfortunate that its extension into Manchester city centre is such a confusing mess, showing a complete marriage to motor traffic and trying to promote cycling by colouring in at the edges.  I’ve been inspired by others to record my reply, partly since the council hasn’t seemed to take on board advice in the past which would stop them from wasting money and making the same mistakes over and over.  The questions are all quite similar though (which I think, would make it difficult to parse for somebody going through responses).  Any Mancunian will be familiar with the area, so there’s no reason not to fire a reply yourself by the 10th.

1. PLEASE SAY WHAT YOU THINK OF OUR PROPOSALS, TELLING US WHAT YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH AND WHY. IF A COMMENT RELATES TO A SPECIFIC FEATURE OR STRETCH, PLEASE CLARIFY WHICH.

If built the proposed changes will not affect the ease of cycling into the city centre from the south, nor increase the number of people doing so.  The design follows several failed projects by the council in involving no changes to the flow of motor traffic that blocks growth of cycling in the area, but instead designing a way around junctions for cyclists which has no bearing in reality if one takes a second to imagine cycling from the proposed route to any destination.

2. IF SPECIFIC PARTS OF THE PROPOSALS COULD AFFECT YOU, PLEASE GIVE DETAILS AND CLARIFY WHICH SECTION OR FEATURE YOU’RE COMMENTING ON.

While removal of the staggered pedestrian crossing on Whitworth street is good, it’s not worthwhile to dig up the road for the sake of the tiny increases in size to bring it to toucan crossing standards.  The primary function of the road layout is to allow cars space for different turning lanes, and unless this is reduced, then the function will not change, despite the number of people walking, the adjacent public transport, and this new cycle link.

For cyclists the primary way in which this failure can be seen is in how they are placed alongside left-turning traffic on Deansgate.  That cyclists bypass the build-out headed north is good, but they are still next to a lane where drivers expect.  For this to be a link to the city, it is the space for the cars that must be redesigned, not taking limited space from pedestrians.

For access to the path, removing one parking space is inadequate, a gap of one car is unlikely to be visible to first time users, and the existing entrance is two cars width.

The Trafford Park route to the canal is segregated but fails the key design criteria of coherence, having the short, halting stretches and odd manoeuvres that mark it out as a last-generation design.  Substandard routes should not be part of new projects.

Minimum shared footway size in TFGM cycle guide is 2.5m, but the canal route is frequently less that this and could not be called any type of cycle route without onerous extension work, building further out into the waterway.

3. PLEASE ADD ANY OTHER COMMENTS ABOUT THE ROUTE AS A WHOLE OR SPECIFIC STRETCHES OF THE PROPOSALS.

It should be noted that there is an existing, mostly traffic free route from mediacity to deansgate, on the footpath along the  quayside and then along pomona strand.  This has much better capacity, but is blocked by a gate, though it is easy to go around.  Formalising this route would be cheaper and more fit for use.

My worry is that this one is worse than standing still.  After all of the works in this area, if they dig up the street again and all that appears are some slightly widened islands and new paint that only serve to confuse all users, it will likely turn some against cycling projects, and in a highly visible area.  But if they get their priorities right, this seems like an excellent opportunity.

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