Like this site? Help us to make it better.


DfT blocks Chris Boardman’s plans for thousands of continental-style zebra crossings on Manchester side streets

News comes as 15 new Bee Network schemes announced plus bike hire across Greater Manchester in 2020

A plan by Greater Manchester cycling and walking commissioner Chris Boardman to add zebra crossings to 20,000 side streets across the city region has been scotched by the Department for Transport (DfT).

Boardman, who is developing Greater Manchester’s Bee Network to make streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians and persuade motorists to switch to active modes of travel, says the continental-style crossings – called ‘implied zebra crossings’ and also found here at locations on private land such as at retail parks – would cost £300 each.

But the DfT reportedly insists that they are not permitted under UK law, where zebra crossings are required to include Belisha beacons and zig-zag markings, increasing the cost a hundredfold to £30,000 for each location, reports The Guardian.

Boardman said the implied zebra crossings were a way of reminding motorists that people on foot have right of way when they start crossing a side street.

“These crossings enforce a right that everybody has forgotten about,” he explained. “The law is this: that when you put a foot on the carriageway, you have the right of way.

“But people don’t do it, because there is no point being in the right, while at the same time being in hospital after getting run over. I would like to see thousands of zebra crossings in Manchester.”

He said a trial being conducted by the Transport Research Laboratory by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) suggested that the crossings did reduce the risk to pedestrians and as a result were “legally robust and responsible.”

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has urged the DfT to update regulations to allow the crossings, but the government department last year ordered that a trial implied zebra crossing in Salford be removed.

A DfT spokesman for the DfT said: “Zebra crossings are designed to ensure the safety of all road users – beacons are necessary for visibility, while zigzag markings prevent parked cars blocking the view of pedestrians and cyclists.

“We will always put safety first and any potential regulation change would need to be based on robust research and supported by off-road trials.”

News of the disagreement comes as TfGM announces a further £134 million in funding for the Bee Network which will extend it to 1.800 miles in total with 15 new schemes – including 20 miles of protected cycle lanes – in areas including Tameside, Wigan, Trafford and Stockport schemes.

The plans, subject to agreement by GMCA later this week, also provide for the launch of a cycle hire scheme across the city region next week.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “A Greater Manchester-wide bike hire scheme will be an integral part of our transport network. If we can get tens of thousands of people doing their first and last mile on a bike or on foot, we’ll be well on our way to creating a more integrated, sustainable and varied transport offer.

“The 15 schemes being proposed today are an exciting next step towards building the Bee Network. When complete it will be the largest joined-up walking and cycling network in the country.

“We’re embarking on an active travel revolution in Greater Manchester and I’m looking forward to the first Bee Network schemes opening later this year.”

Boardman, said: “I couldn’t have imagined when I took up this role two years ago that we’d get to a point where we’re already oversubscribed funding-wise because we have so many high quality schemes being proposed. What a fantastic problem to have.

“We can crack on with the development and build of a lot of these schemes - and in the meantime we’re going to scale up our campaign to secure further funding and will shortly publish a delivery plan.

“A true alternative to the car is something that Greater Manchester residents clearly want – that’s why I’m so pleased to announce that our planned network is now longer and more comprehensive than before,” he added.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

Add new comment


burtthebike | 4 years ago

Department for Cars has a rather institutional, windscreen perspective on anything and everything, and barely understands the concept of a shift from driving to walking and cycling, and apart from a few short term, badly funded, demonstration schemes, does nothing.

At the risk of getting political again, none of the major parties has any sensible transport policies, while making grand statements to match their audience's expectations.  This is one of the reasons for the recent rise of the Greens.

aegisdesign | 4 years ago

So presumably the DfT will be going about ripping up cycle lanes that don't follow the national standard and insisting councils put in proper cycle lanes?


growingvegtables | 4 years ago

A "Google-street-view-wander" through Stanningley, Leeds [,-1.6638344,3a,75y,180h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sEw-lTRMsH7xvaTWkYZaJ3A!2e0!7i16384!8i8192] reveals several "virtual zebras" and all sorts of other "unorthodox" road markings and delineations?

Paint your "virtual zebras", Chris.  Stuff the DfT.  They want evidence before they change the law?  Give it to them - 20,000 "virtual zebras!"

hawkinspeter replied to growingvegtables | 4 years ago

growingvegtables wrote:

A "Google-street-view-wander" through Stanningley, Leeds [,-1.6638344,3a,75y,180h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sEw-lTRMsH7xvaTWkYZaJ3A!2e0!7i16384!8i8192] reveals several "virtual zebras" and all sorts of other "unorthodox" road markings and delineations?

Paint your "virtual zebras", Chris.  Stuff the DfT.  They want evidence before they change the law?  Give it to them - 20,000 "virtual zebras!"

I believe he did paint a trial one and the DfT painted over it.

aegisdesign replied to hawkinspeter | 4 years ago

hawkinspeter wrote:

I believe he did paint a trial one and the DfT painted over it.


Not quite correct. Salford Council ran a trial AND MONITORED it for a week. It was only supposed to be there for a week but hey, councils. Some months later it was eventually removed at the request of the DfT.

Boardman hasn't been out with a paint brush personally.

davidnorwich | 4 years ago

The DFT will only permit overly engineered priority crossings for pedestrians however when it comes to cyclists, they are fair game by the looks of it.

This crossing for cyclists has recently been built here on a shared path. I don't think it could be any more poorly designed. It must be legal, its on a slight hump, but so shallow its barely noticable by drivers.

However it only has a "cycle track crosses road" warning sign from one direction, not the other and the white give way road markings. The surface where the bike logo is, is different, red stones in the tarmac, however I doubt you would even see the difference in a car!

It has the obligatory wide curve radius on the junction entry. We wouldn't drivers to have to slow down to go round the corner.

Someone almost hit me the other day when they didn't give way. I rightly pointed out the error in there ways only to receive the "I don't give a ****" shoulder shrug.

It just looks to me like it was designed to fail. Compared with cycle crossings in the Netherlands and you can easily see why. 



hawkinspeter | 4 years ago

Is there any part of govt. that's actually working properly?

mike the bike replied to hawkinspeter | 4 years ago

hawkinspeter wrote:

Is there any part of govt. that's actually working properly?


Indeed there is sir.  The Department for Squashing Fine Ideas is flourishing.

check12 | 4 years ago

Paint them anyway, no sir these are just blocks of white paint on the road, kids must have done it. 

Viva la republic of Mancunia

StuInNorway | 4 years ago

As long as they are placed near a junction (whereby existing laws that pedestrians crossing before you turn have priority apply) then you don't need a full zebra crossing, simply a means of demarkating the road to indicate that drivers should expect this to be an area pedestrians cross the road.
On the other hand, recent news shows that even with light controlled crossings, a percentage of pedestrians still cannot cross safely, and the recent compilations by Silvio Diego show just how much of a problem zombie walking has become, especially in town centres.  If they are going to provide more crossings, making sure people actually use them would help too. I am amazed how often I see people cross through traffic causing people to take avoiding action, then turn on th epavement and walk past the perfectly good pedestrian crossing 10m away . .  so there was not even 1m extra to walk to actually use it.

ktache | 4 years ago

Shame on this.

Keep it up Chris.

We have a sort of implied crossing in Caversham, not Zebra, but a painted "block paving" that does seem to work, as this capture from GoogleStreetView shows.

Latest Comments