Manchester advances active travel infrastructure plan

The local authority has opened the second stage of consultation for a new walking and cycling route through neighbourhoods north and east of the city centre.

The city council said it has designed the new continuous route to serve as an active travel link between Ancoats, New Islington, New Cross, New Town, Red Bank, the Green Quarter and city centre.

The proposals, viewable in full online and open to consultation until Wednesday 17 March, will create new crossings to overcome local barriers for people travelling on foot and by bike, such as the River Irk, Ashton Canal and railway viaducts.

Junctions and public spaces which are not currently easy to walk or cycle through will be enhanced, with more trees and green space included in the plans.

The scheme, which takes on suggested changes following phase one of consultation, runs from Roger Street in the Green Quarter, passing Islington Marina and through the Ancoats conservation area, to Pollard Street’s junction with Great Ancoats Street.

Great Ancoats Street itself has been subjected to a £9.1m overhaul, a project heavily criticised in late 2020 and since.

In the northern and eastern gateway’s original consultation in May 2020, respondents overwhelmingly agreed that they wanted the council to:

  • Create routes away from cars and roads
  • Develop a route that links key places such as Cutting Room Square and the New Islington tram stop
  • Make improvements to key junctions to help make them easier to cross
  • Make Bengal Street one way, enabling safer crossing
  • More green public spaces
  • Move some car parking to another area.

Respondents also identified an issue with route through the New Islington Marina being too busy for cycling

In response to this, the design has been amended, with key points including the removal of cars from Bengal Street, which will also see a small public space created.

The council said it is also seeking to minimise on-street parking on roads along the route, to enable safer cycling, and removing some parking where segregation is installed.

Two new CYCLOPS (cycle optimised protected signals) junctions are proposed for the junction of Oldham Road with Thompson Street and Sherratt Street and the junction of Rochdale Road with Ludgate Hill and Gould Street.

The council’s executive member for the environment, planning and transport, Cllr Angeliki Stogia, said: “This scheme will help create better places to live to the north and east of the city centre, making walking and cycling easier and more attractive options by improving travel links between emerging neighbourhoods and the city centre.

“Our proposals, which follow on from the benefit of an initial round of consultation, seek to create more walking and cycling-friendly public areas which are joined-up more naturally, with better signage and safer junctions, to encourage people of all ages to see travelling on foot or by bike as natural choices.”

The scheme is funded by the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Challenge Fund, through a grant from the government’s Transforming Cities Fund, and will form part of The Bee Network – a plan for Greater Manchester to deliver the UK’s largest cycling and walking network.

Your Comments

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You should spend some of our tax on places like Oldham a third world town a few miles down the rd

By R crowther

Dear Bee Network Designers,

Great to see these proposals coming forward, a major step in the right direction, especially when compared to Great Ancoats Street. However, digging up these spaces to install these cycling facilities appears to completely miss the opportunity to install any green infrastructure at the same time. Either the drawings simply don’t include these green features or they are actually absent.

This current cycling focused strategy appears to squander the chance to hardwire climate-resilient features into the landscape to help deal with extreme weather, provide habitat for biodiversity and greater amenity to enhance the attractiveness for walkers and cyclists. Please rethink and design holistic, integrated and climate responsible infrastructure.

These proposals are much better than Great Ancoats Street, but remain a well-intentioned mediocrity, a 6 out of 10. Could (needs to) do better.

Yours faithfully,

Citizen observer

By Pragmatic Progressive

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