Response to Consultation on Oxford Road, Manchester

The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain welcomes some aspects of the proposed changes to Manchester Oxford Road which will see cycling accommodated into the road designs as part of the Bus Priority plans. In particular we support the proposal for space dedicated specifically to cycling along the entire route, and the bus stop bypasses which site bus stops on islands which are passed behind by cycle tracks. Bus stop bypasses have been used successfully for years in countries where a much greater proportion of trips are made by bicycle, such as The Netherlands.

However, we feel that certain aspects of the proposal could be improved, or require additional clarification. Unfortunately, the major bus stop at the University of Manchester precinct does not have a bus stop bypass in the current proposal. This is particularly disappointing as a cycle route is only as good as its weakest link, and the absence of a bypass of this particularly major bus stop risks undermining the rest of the route. It is also worrying that the bus stop bypasses which are shown on the plan are qualified by a disclaimer that they are subject to the securing of additional funding, with no alternatives proposed should the additional funding not be secured.

The integrity of the cycle route is undermined by the fact that it abandons the user at Portland Street with no provision to safely take bicycle users to the city centre. Whilst we accept and hope that the intention is to provide a safe and convenient cycle route from the proposed terminus of the cycle route at Portland Street into the city centre in the future, it is a shame that it cannot be brought forward to provide a fully-functional route into the city centre.

The plans do not make it clear what provision is planned to protect and prioritise cycling at the junctions. The nature of the proposal means that at these junctions most traffic will be going straight ahead, with only very low volumes of motor traffic turning into or out of Oxford Road, making separate turning phases a good choice at these junctions (see note 1). Separate turning phases are used in The Netherlands; the advantage of this junction treatment is that motorised traffic and non-motorised traffic remain separated and conflict between these groups is minimised.

 It is unclear from the proposal whether the cycle lanes (other than where they bypass bus stops) are protected from motor traffic by a kerb or whether the cycle lanes consist of painted markings only. Kerb-separated cycle lanes provide a greater sense of subjective safety to users of cycle infrastructure and are likely to attract a much wider demographic. The Embassy does not support paint-only cycle lanes on this scheme due to the nature of the road and traffic type, but does support physically separated cycle tracks.  Additionally, the proposals do not state the type of kerbing to be used for the cycle tracks. The Cycling Embassy of Great Britain has recently highlighted the importance of using angled kerbs with cycle tracks (see note 2). In brief, angled kerbs are less likely to cause crashes if bicycle users crash into them, allow easier access and use of cycle tracks for mobility scooters, tricycles and handcycles and crucially allow bicycle users to ride closer to the edge of the track without risking the pedals striking the kerb stones. This last advantage effectively increases the capacity of the cycle track for the most common type of user and more easily permits users to cycle side-by-side or pass other users. Notes 
  1. A discussion of traffic controlled junctions - Pedestrianise London (CROW Traffic Manual) 
  2. An open letter to Transport for London - Cycling Embassy of Great Britain (Kerb stone design)

Details of the scheme are here.

The consultation closes on Friday 5th July. Responses can be sent to