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Manchester aims to become England's leading city for cycling and cycle hire scheme is part of the plan

Manchester City Council working with British Cycling and Transport for Greater Manchester to realise ambitious goal

Manchester City Council is considering launching a cycle hire scheme similar to that of London as part of a range of measures aimed at turning it into England’s top cycling city with more people riding bikes there than anywhere else in the country by 2017.

It’s an ambitious plan, but one that has been drawn up in partnership with British Cycling, which has its headquarters in the city, as well as Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

Among the council’s aims to promote cycling, reports the Manchester Evening News, are a network of cycle routes alongside canalside towpaths, centred on Sportcity where the National Cycling Centre is located, a programme to repair potholes on key routes into the city centre, increased provision of cycle parking including underneath apartment blocks that are currently planned, free cycle training and encouraging more women to take to two wheels.

Meanwhile, following the successful launch earlier this year of a Brompton Cycle Hire Dock at Manchester Piccadilly station in March this year, making 40 folding bikes available for hire, the council is now seriously considering private funding options for a cycle hire scheme throughout the city, similar to London’s Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme, or the Vélib’ initiative in Paris.

Commenting on the plans, Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “We hope that this will help cyclists at every level – from novice through to experienced and competitive cyclists – and make cycling a real transport option for people in Manchester as well as promoting recreational and sport cycling.

“This includes offering free training sessions for novices to get them confident enough to get on their bikes and learn new skills. We’re also working with employers to encourage them to provide better facilities for those choosing to cycle to work.”

In 2011, TfGM obtained £4.9 million from the government’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund to help it develop the Greater Manchester Commuter Project to help encourage more people cycle to work, and in April plans were unveiled for a cycle hub underneath the 30-storey City Tower.

Over the past fortnight, TfGM also promoted the Greater Manchester Cycle Challenge, which saw employees from more than 100 businesses and other organisations compete against each other to see who could get the most miles in during their commute.

On Monday, the city hosted the inaugural Daily Mirror Great Manchester Cycle which saw 7,000 cyclists take to a 13-mile closed road circuit and was a huge success by all accounts, and that will be followed next month by the Manchester Skyride on 15 July.

Despite all that positive news, there are still some areas for concern. In March, personal injury solicitors Levenes singled out the ‘Curry Mile’ on Wilmslow Road as the worst place in the city for road traffic incidents involving cyclists, and one person the Manchester Evening News spoke to who regularly commutes along that route said he welcomed any steps that the council could take to make it safer for cyclists and novices in particular.

Joe Smith, who works at Bicycle Doctor in Rusholme said: “Many people hesitate to ride in Manchester as it can be pretty dangerous and they are put off by the traffic. The plans are definitely good for anyone interested in starting as it is a pretty daunting experience to start riding in Manchester.

“I know many people who have been knocked off their bikes – I was when a car collided into me on the Curry Mile. I wasn’t injured but I was badly shaken up and my bike was written off.”

Speaking of the council’s intention to address the danger posed to cyclists by potholes, he added: “Ironing them out will definitely help prevent the collisions that happen when cyclists have to move out of their way.

“I think the idea of better parking facilities will also get more people cycling,” he concluded.


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.

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farrell | 11 years ago

Another bike hire scheme, to go with the prohibitively expensive Brompton hire outside Piccadilly station, the use of canal footpaths which already exist, A velodrome that will be rendered obsolete when Seb Coe gets his way and will have the land sold by the council at a knock down price, yet again, to Manchester City FC's Arabian owners, a couple of hugely corporately sponsored bike rides and the vague promise of potentially filling a few potholes?

Oh yeah, baby, Manchester is gonna be Number One!  37

I suppose for Richard Leese making bold, outlandish, statements that cause debate is a good action plan when you are trying to get people to forget you've been beating seven bells out of your step-daughter.

WolfieSmith | 11 years ago

I wish Liverpool would look again at their cycle commuter routes. . The northern route into the city weaves all over the place when it would have been a better idea - and more of a sharing statement - to develop the lower Dock road to take riders directly from Waterloo to Albert Dock. Everrytime I see those brave souls cycling Derby Rd at rush hour and I look at the derelict and rarely used pavements I see an opportunity missed.

Liverpool's much the same as Manchester. It's too compact to need a city centre hire scheme. What it needs is driver awareness and speed reduction to get more people on bikes.

andyp | 11 years ago

2 things:
1) join up the A635 'bunny hop' cycle lane into a continuous lane.
2) The geese on the Ashton canal towpath only seem dangerous because they're the only users of the towpath who aren't stoned out of their little boxes.

Joselito | 11 years ago

So, what we are saying is ditch the 'Velib-manc' or 'Bez-bikes' plan and just ask us what needs doing instead?

Looked on the MCC website for any info and didn't see anything so sent an email to the cycling development officer instead saying perhaps they should ask the cyclists of Manchester what we would like.

Some Fella | 11 years ago

This will mean nothing to non Mancs but a good start would be to allow cyclists to go south along Oxford Street in the bit between Portland Street and Whitworth Street. Cyclist priority at traffic lights would be nice too. And the police actually giving a to55 when you inevitably get your bike nicked if you leave it in town. And some decent tarmac. And better weather. And Wiggins to win the Tour de France. And to buy me a nice new bike too. Nothing fancy.
Not asking for much.

chorltonjon | 11 years ago

Lots of sound points made above.

I'm pleased that the council has good intentions.

Potholes - inform those responsible for fixing them with the 'Fillthathole' App. Any sort of fix is better than the craters currently seen.

Could the curry mile have the highest number of collisions because it has a large number of cycling journeys? The M60 is presumably safest? I'm not sure what could reasonably be done to improve that route - it already has some segregated bike lanes and ASLs.

+1 for more secure bike parking in town - v.poor provision away from the universities, and Ghedebrav is right about the Geese!

Now, if only the council can do something about the weather..  3

Ghedebrav | 11 years ago

It's great to hear that my adopted home city recognises the increasing relevance and importance of cycling as part of an intergrated plan for urban transport. Practical work, like fixing the potholes, will be a great help, as will some intelligent rethinking of cycle routes and better/more secure cycle parking.

However, at the risk of sounding like a naysayer, I'm not sure that a hire scheme will actually be that helpful. After all, Manchester has a relatively compact centre and doesn't have anything like the tourist traffic to warrant a scheme like Velib. Also, I'm not clear whether this is just 'Manchester' as in Manchester City Council area, or Greater Manchester, including Tameside, Trafford, Salford etc. Would make much more sense if it were the latter.

Finally, I'm worried about the notion of using canal towpaths. Manchester's geese are a murderous breed who despise cyclists and attack them at any given opportunity. I speak from bitter experience!

Joselito | 11 years ago

Manchester City Council... as part of a range of measures aimed at turning it into England’s top cycling city with more people riding bikes there than anywhere else in the country by 2017.

I would have thought that a starting point would be Highway Code re-education camps for a sizeable number of Manchester's drivers.

notfastenough | 11 years ago

Would be nice to see something about driver education. No, I am really am not trying to hold you up just for the sake of it. I would merely like to live.

They could do a lot worse than fixing the surface on the southbound side of the motorway bridge run from Parrswood to Cheadle. Many cyclists use it (to avoid the A34 and it's motorway slip roads), but you need to be 3 feet into the road to prevent an accident with the grid/pothole layout. That's fine, except for the genius pedestrian islands that make drivers zoom past you then cut in. Not a great combination.

A V Lowe | 11 years ago

Potholes and tram tracks are the key issue for cycle safety in Manchester. As with many roads authorities, there is too great a rush and tolerance for fast and 'lightweight' repairs which fail to fix the underlying problems which are causing the roads to collapse or crack up.

The tram tracks have improved following a major repairs programme which dealt with a design flaw in the original construction, and saw the rails moving up and down and destroying the supporting pads, so the blockwork and road surface around the tracks fell apart. The new track has addressed this issue.

My biggest issue when riding around Manchester is having to ride so far out from the cratered nearside of the road, which gets the ignorant drivers hassling you to pull left.

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