Tameside’s Cycle Thriller

Portion of £20 million fund helps borough to boost bicycle ridership figures (‘…B-b-b-bike, b-b-b-b-b-bike…’*)

My borough’s never been the best of locations for cyclists, though potentially it can be one of the best in Greater Manchester. We are in the midst of three navigable canals whose towpaths are popular with cyclists. There is potential for cycle paths along the side of the River Tame and enough main roads which could be modified for cycle lanes.

However, one thing which deters cyclists and wannabe cyclists is the state of traffic in our borough, and incumbent cycle provision. Cycle paths throughout our borough seem to be scattered in odd places. There’s a rather useless section in Audenshaw for one. At present, no suitable showering facilities (something which slipper baths could have accommodated in the 1970s instead of closure). And, most obviously, there are some most dangerous sections of road around our way. Who in the right mind would jaywalk along Denton Island roundabout let alone cycle?

A short cycling distance, bus or tram ride away, we have the National Cycling Centre on the banks of the Manchester and Ashton-under-Lyne Canal. It has been great for the likes of Mark Cavendish and Chris Boardman, following in the footsteps of another Mancunian cycling legend, Reg Harris. What about the ordinary cyclist or wannabe cyclist?

Some steps are being made for people who would like to cycle on short journeys, or as a cheaper alternative to buses, trains or trams. Or as part of a longer journey. There has already been the opening of Cycle Hubs at Bury Interchange and on Piccadilly Plaza. One is about to open in Ashton-under-Lyne next to the swimming baths.

The Tameside area has benefited from part of Transport for Greater Manchester’s £20 million grant. Effective for two years, this will include:

  • A major new network of cycling routes to workplaces, schools and leisure facilities;
  • Improved cycle facilities at schools and colleges;
  • Cycle and Ride facilities at Guide Bridge railway station and Hollinwood tram station.

This will form part of a wider vision, TfGM’s Velocity 2025 programme of high quality cycle routes. In Tameside, this will cover the Manchester and Ashton-under-Lyne Canal. The proposed Ashton Canal Cycleway will see improved links with Manchester City Centre, Ashton-under-Lyne town centre, and Guide Bridge railway station. This will be in cooperation with organisations such as Sustrans and British Cycling.

I hope TfGM and our borough succeeds, but we need to do more to make our roads more bicycle friendly. We not only need to improve our roads to accommodate cyclists but also ensure motorists themselves are more mindful of their presence.

S.V., 13 August 2013.

* With kind apologies to David Byrne

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