Love Your Bike response to Cross City Bus consultation (23rd December 2009)

We are writing on behalf of Manchester Friends of the Earth to respond to the consultation on Cross City Bus Travel.

Manchester FoE’s transport campaign wants to see more people getting around by public transport, walking and cycling and a modal shift away from the use of private vehicles. In particular, we played a coordinating role in the TIF referendum ‘yes’ campaign and we run the Bike Friday, monthly cycle to work rides, as part of our Love Your Bike campaign. We also started the Longsight Transport Project, which aimed to improve transport and reduce social exclusion for residents in the area by improving their participation in decision-making.

On the whole, we are very pleased to see these plans for major investment aim to improve journeys by all modes, particularly where these will encourage modal shift towards the more sustainable modes. It is welcome that social inclusion and access to services appear to be integral to the plans, with access to employment, healthcare and education being a major aim. In particular, cross-city bus services should enhance access to essential services for those without access to a car.

We also welcome the plans for the Oxford Road corridor to remove private cars from this stretch of road. This is an extremely busy area, and reducing the amount of road traffic will enhance it as an
environment for walking and cycling and improve bus reliability times. We hope that this will be part of a longer-term programme to overhaul the way traffic moves around the city, favouring the more
sustainable, socially-inclusive modes such as walking, cycling and public transport.

Unfortunately, there is a lack of detail in the consultation materials, so we feel unable to comment on the detail of the schemes. We assume that there will be further opportunities to comment on
specific details as the schemes are developed. There are a number of points that we would like to raise for consideration as these plans are taken forward:

• There should be a consistent high standard and design of cycle lanes. Parking restrictions on these routes should be effectively enforced and the routes should be well maintained to keep them
free from potholes (sharp edge trips) and other obstructions.

• On the Oxford Road corridor, the positioning of the cycle lanes in relation to the bus lanes should minimise the risk to cyclists. Once detailed plans are available, the views of existing cyclists
should be taken into account and discussed at suitable fora (such as the Manchester Cycle forum).

• When designing any cycling infrastructure, such as the cycle lanes planned for Oxford Road, we would encourage GMPTE to take into account the differing levels of experience and travel at slower speeds (in the range 8-12 miles per hour) and where possible many would prefer to use segregated cycle lanes such as those commonly found in Denmark and Copenhagen.

However, more confident cyclists will commonly travel at speeds in excess of 18mph. This is a speed limit at which the Department for Transport recommend that cyclists should use the road network instead of cycle lanes. We would encourage GMPTE to take the opportunity presented with Oxford Road to design cycling infrastructure that is suitable for cyclists of all levels of experience.

• We are concerned that the current plans for the cycle lanes require buses to cross the cycle lanes every time the vehicle pulls into a bus stop. As the designs currently stand the potential conflicts are between “big bus” and “little bike”. If European style cycle lanes were provided any potential conflicts would be between pedestrian and bicycles. Whilst, there are concerns regarding potential collisions between cycles and pedestrians, a report recently presented to the Manchester City Council Communities and Neighbourhoods Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Support for cycling as mode of transport, 10th November 2009) provided details of the reported collisions between cyclists and pedestrians. It stated that “collision investigation has shown that while there is a perceived danger in facilities which are shared between cyclists and pedestrians, in most
locations there is little conflict. Good design can minimise these conflicts”. We would urge GMPTE to consider alternate designs for the cycle lanes on Oxford Road.

• The opportunity to establish a quality partnership with bus operators should be taken and utilised to ensure that bus engines are of the highest environmental standards to improve air quality and reduce climate change emissions. Comprehensive driver training should also obligatory (including training on safely sharing the road with cyclists).

• The opportunity to better integrate ticketing should be taken. This will enhance connectivity across the city.

We trust that these views will be taken into account when finalising the plans and that GMPTE will press ahead with a bold package of measures to promote modal shift and improve access to essential services.

Yours Faithfully,
Graeme Sherriff and Pete Abel
Love Your Bike Campaign
Manchester Friends of the Earth

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