Manchester’s Oxford Road will receive a totally new look and safety measures in a new, permanent change to improve transport for bus passengers, cyclists and pedestrians.
Transport for Greater Manchester’s bus priority project will see the controversially dangerous road fitted out with a new surface, kerb to kerb, between Hathersage Road and Denmark Road in a three-day operation starting on 6 June.
The work is part of a £122 million programme to deliver faster bus journeys to, from and through the city centre with more punctual and reliable services.
The Oxford Road scheme, started in 2014, will ultimately see a bus and cycle-only corridor created between Hathersage Road and Grosvenor Street, to be introduced in phases as the work progresses.
New-style bike lanes will allow cyclists to be safely separate from buses, with floating bus stops, allowing riders to cycle ‘behind’ the stop, rather than around them.
The new coloured cycleway will have pedestrian crossing points, including a zebra style crossing, following a successful trial opposite Whitworth Park last year.
More than 140 new trees are being planted, including exotic species not usually found on British streets such as Japanese cherries, sweet gum trees and gingko.
Once the roadworks are completed on 9 June general traffic heading into the city on Oxford Road will be unable to travel past this point between 6am and 9pm and will instead be permanently rerouted, turning right on to Hathersage Road.
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: “This work will completely transform Oxford Road, making it a much more pleasant space for everyone.
“While these improvements to the public space are long-lasting and to be welcomed, the real purpose of what we are doing is to support the economy and the community by improving connections for people and offering more travel choices and for work, education, leisure or healthcare.”
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: “Oxford Road is one of the city’s busiest routes and a better environment for pedestrians, improved cycle infrastructure, better bus routes and good alternatives for cars will make travelling the route safer and more enjoyable for all road users.
“To encourage more people to get on a bike, we need innovative cycle ways that make cycling truly viable for any ability – but these improvement works represent a wider ambition to create a range of different options for travel across the city.”
We reported back in February how in the city centre, additional bus priority work is currently underway on Portland Street, while further roadworks have been caused by the sinkhole that opened up in the Mancunian Way in August. The ongoing traffic disruption has led Graham Stringer, MP for Blackley and Broughton, to suggest that bus lanes are making travel times slower for ‘everybody’.
Stringer believes motorists should be permitted to use bus lanes in the short term and wants to see a full review of whether they should be used at all. Councillor Kate Chappell, executive member for the environment, was however quick to point out that nearly two thirds of commuters travel into the city centre on public transport and suspending bus lanes would therefore have a significant detrimental effect on a large number of people.