Manchester Council’s Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport has spoken out against pop-up cycle lanes, arguing that they are only popular with, “a section of commuter cyclists.” Angeliki Stogia said that if the council were to “take out capacity on major routes” by constructing pop-up lanes, it would result in greater congestion.
With public transport capacity currently severely limited, the Government fears that without large numbers switching to active travel, cities’ roads could grind to a halt.
New guidance for local authorities therefore demands that more space be provided for walking and cycling.
Writing in the foreword to the guidance, dated May 9, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The government … expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians.
“Such changes will help embed altered behaviours and demonstrate the positive effects of active travel.”
Pop-up cycle lanes are consequently being planned and constructed up and down the country, many with a view to long-term permanence.
While Greater Manchester as a whole has tabled a £21.5m bid for government funding for pop-up cycle lanes on 94km of major roads, the City of Manchester – the borough at the heart of the region – has been more resistant to the idea.
Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, has said that Manchester City Council is working with other districts to join up proposed cycle routes, but as things stand the region faces the prospect of a five-mile hole at the very centre of its cycling infrastructure.
The MEN reports that Stogia sees reallocation of road space as a ‘reduction’ of capacity.
Speaking at a meeting on Wednesday, she said: “Pop-up lanes are popular by and large with a section of commuter cyclists.
“I know people are passionate about them but they don’t do anything for pedestrians or people who aren’t able to use them.”
She continued: “Until confidence in capacity is there so residents can get back into public transport, if we take out capacity on major routes then we will get back to congestion a lot quicker.
“These pop-up lanes are not a magic bullet. We need careful and planned active travel interventions as it's far more complicated than often presented how we help people get around the city.”
Stogia said that closing roads to motor traffic represented the quickest and cheapest way to reallocate road space.
While this is an approach being taken with a couple of streets in the city centre, it is not proposed for any major commuter routes.
Richard Kilpatrick, a member of the scrutiny committee and Lib Dem councillor for Didsbury West, countered: “Short-term pop-up solutions in this situation will be the foundation for success of active travel in the future.”
Stogia expressed surprise that Kilpatrick supported pop-up lanes as his party ‘was never for permanent infrastructure’.
She added: “We should put a whole lot of cones in Chorlton and Wilmslow Road and see how long it lasts.”