This is the final post looking at the Wilmslow Road Cycleway, covering Rusholme.
The other posts can be found here:
Although as you approach Rusholme, it’s pretty clear the work is still in progress. You can easily see the quality of the infrastructure being installed is of a much higher standard to the rest of the Wilmslow Road Cycleway to the south.
Anyone who knows Rusholme, will appreciate that installing any kind of cycle provision through here is a challenge. The road isn’t particularly wide, with on-street parking on both sides, and high number of pedestrians at all times of day.
The obvious answer would be to remove some of the on-street parking. There is quite a lot of on-street and dedicated parking on the streets around Wilmslow Road, but I’d expect there’d be significant opposition to reducing the amount of parking on the road itself.
Despite the challenges, a real effort has been made to create high quality and continuous cycleways, with good protection from the road. Kerb segregation is provided for nearly all the route, with parking spaces adding some more protection.
I must admit, I’m not a big fan of the arrays of bollards on the kerb segregation. But I can see they’re probably necessary, as the kerb alone would not be enough to stop people parking in the cycleway.
It’s not true for all of them, but you can see a real effort has been made at some of the junctions to improve safety, with the cycleway being set back from the road, so traffic is at 90 degrees when it crosses the cycleway. More work needs to be done on establishing priority here though, as it’s not particularly clear.
Some of the junctions at the smaller side roads are less successful, with cars blocking the cycleway as they attempt to pull out. Given traffic moves quite slowly at times, it means the cycleway remains blocked for some time. Where possible, it’d be good to see access to some of these side roads removed to improve safety.
One particularly poor spot is outside the tyre shop, where it looks like they’re in the process of putting down some green paint. In the evenings this becomes blocked with parked cars, creating a barrier on the cycleway. Access needs to be maintained as it’s the entrance to the tyre shop, so it looks like parking enforcement is the only option.
When you reach Moss Lane East and Whitworth park, there’s a very large ASL. I didn’t measure, but I’d say it’s at least double the length of a standard ASL. The purpose of this is partly to provide northbound access to the cycleway from Rusholme Place.
Now I don’t know if it’s due to the size of the ASL, the traffic cones present and the left hand lane being closed or because we were there, but the majority of drivers were actually stopping behind the ASL. Though there was also a number of drivers doing silly U-turns to get round some of the road restrictions.
It is clear a lot more effort has gone into the design and execution of the Rusholme section of the Wilmslow Road Cycleway, and I think this will benefit those using it. I do have some concerns though.
Giving Manchester City Council and TfGM the benefit of the doubt, it seems like there’s still some work to be done on some of the junctions. This is really necessary, as it needs to be clear to everyone who has priority, as it’s at the junctions we will see accidents.
With the number of food outlets along here, litter is a significant problem, so the cycleways need to be cleaned regularly. Particularly as the litter will block drains and cause the cycleway to flood. There’s already been plenty of people raise concerns about the amount of standing water on the cycleway when it rains.
Given the limited space, the narrowing of the pavements and that the cycleway is new, pedestrians walking in the cycleway is seen as a bit of a problem. At the time I was there, it wasn’t particularly bad and pedestrians were taking notice. But apparently during the day, it is more of an issue.
There’s examples of where too much street furniture on the pavements isn’t helping matters, so this should be tidied up. Other than that though, there’s not a lot you can do apart from just giving it time for people to adjust. Indeed, I’ve seen plenty of examples in The Netherlands of people (usually tourists) standing in the cycleways by mistake and almost getting hit.
So there you have it, that’s where things stand with the Wilmslow Road Cycleway. Some good, some bad and some just plain ugly. I think it’s fair to say in Manchester we’re still some way behind the best examples of what’s currently being done in London on the North-South and East-West routes, but it’s still far and away the best I’ve seen in Manchester.
There’s plenty of opportunity for TfGM to learn from what they’ve done here and apply what works to other schemes in the city. I really hope that happens.
Back to part 3 – Fallowfield to Rusholme