Monthly Archives: August 2019

Surviving in Manchester – Musings by a Pampered German Cyclist

Having been to Manchester recently in order to explore a city I knew 35 years ago, and found greatly and positively changed upon a visit about last year, I was amazed at how much time and energy the powers that be invested in creating a cycling infrastructure there, and shocked by how ineffective it is and how little motorists care for cyclists.

The first thing you note when cycling in the city are these, traffic islands, pylons and green fields:

You cycle up to a crossroads, wedged between buses and cars, tucked away on bumpy (!) cycle lanes that I didn´t particularly like,

and then you stop at a red light. You are going straight ahead, car next to you too. Or so it seems, because upon the light turning green, that car goes left without having indicated once and takes your right of way with such an easygoing causalness that you begin to think that maybe in the UK cyclists don´t have right of way at all, and only a conversation with one of the few other cyclists around reassures you that you do have rights in traffic. So, next time you use that green rectangle and move in front of the cars, only way if you want to live.

And so it goes on. Look at this:

Or even this:

Do I need to comment on this situation? I mean why bother with designating protected lanes at all? After a very short while I didn´t any more as the surface in the car lanes was much better anyway.

Then you have these green rectangles which should make cars take special caution with regards to cyclists.

Reality however…

And so, despite tons of green paint having been used, thousands of pollards and other items having been erected, you still find ghost bikes.

Still, making use of all due caution, I did have fun on the bike, and found it superbly useful to have had it with me, my trusty Rohloff equipped steed, light pannier and two massive locks.

On Hartshead Pike, overlooking Manchester, the Welsh hills and most of Cheshire

With which we´re hitting on the second part of my rant. Wonderful cycling paths along the picturesque canals that crisscross Manchester. Yeah. Look at the surface. It´s unbearable even on a well shod bike.

And some stretches are dangerous too:

And then, to add insult to injury, in those few places where you can attain a speed above walking pace on horrid hand laid tarmac, there are real honest to God speed bumps, that actually end a few inches away from the edge of the path too, tempting cyclists to use the small space between the bump and the drop to the water.

Very cute also, these green solar powered lights that in theory show you the edge of the path. In practice they are that weak that a strong light shining on them (headlight even) will make them invisible.

The rest of the canal cyclepaths is nice and suitable for post cards photos, but not very suited to be used as a regular channel of traffic in order to make commuters use bicycles more. This for example is the entrance to one towpath, findable only for locals:

Historic, but cyclable only for seasoned cyclists. Both are steep ramps of bridges, sorry not overly visible in the snaps.

So would I recommend anyone exploring Manchester by bike? I guess, it´s still so practical. Only look out you don´t get killed.

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