Sitting in the upstairs room of a city centre pub with brow furrowed in concentration and pink highlighter pen in hand, I try to imagine the Manchester of 2025 and beyond. That’s ten years to create a much-needed cycling infrastructure to not only facilitate ease of mobility, but also keep congestion to manageable levels, enhance safety on two wheels and encourage people to leave their cars at home.

The above scene was part of the Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign’s (GMCC) inaugural workshop on 20 October. Presented with an unlimited supply of city centre maps to deface with fluorescent lines denoting proposed major, subsidiary and minor cycling routes, around 15 to 20 other participants and I set about the task of balancing the desire for the most direct arterial passages possible against the obstacles, planned development and implausible linkages that make up our current city. The signs were encouraging and the post-doodling discussion productive, with plenty of outside-the-box thinking and related ideas, such as for more attractive and innovative cycle parking provision and adoption of the Dutch CROW manual.

The mission is to finally catch up with the two-wheeled trailblazers such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen. The UK has seen plenty of success in competitive cycling in recent years, but the challenge of providing safe options for transport cycling in our major cities has seen markedly less successful results.

Those who’ve spotted the calamitous eyebrow-raisers unveiled with the Corporation Street makeover will surely agree that the city would benefit from more safety-conscious solutions and sensible decision making. Mixed responses to the new Wilmslow Road cycle paths may improve as time goes by and tweaks are made, and the Oxford Road flyby videos offer the appealing prospect of a car-less corridor in the not-too-distant future. Beyond that, funding is expected to be channelled into restructuring Deansgate with cycling at the forefront of plans, and attentions will also be turned to Manchester’s suburbs, as well as neighbouring local planning authorities.

After the success of their first workshop, GMCC are looking to expand on it and develop the amassed opinions to help guide a more positive road experience for all across the whole of Greater Manchester in the future. They’re encouraging anyone and everyone to get involved, so that as many views are shared and voices heard as possible, with the aim of presenting the agreed plan of priorities to Manchester City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester. The next workshop will be on Wednesday 9 December, so show your faces and let’s start to turn the wheels of progress.

The next GMCC workshop is on 9 December from 6.30pm at Terrace on Thomas Street, preceded by GMCC’s Xmas social on 8 December
gmcc.org.uk

Ian Pennington