Progress on the Chorlton Cycleway: Chorlton Road, December 2020

What better a time to go for a ride than a crisp Boxing Day morning? Today I found myself on the site of the future Chorlton Cycleway (“Area 1b”) where works have been ongoing since the summer. The route will eventually form a link between Manchester City Centre, and Chorlton Park, 3.5 miles to the south. This stretch runs along Chorlton Road and should be done around Spring 2021. I have linked detailed drawings, for those inclined.

Before the cycleway can go in (it will be carriageway level, demarked with kerbs, as seen above), there are some enabling works that must first be done. This includes a full resurface of the footways, and rebuilding the side road junctions to make them safer for walking and cycling.

Much of this work is now nearing completion. Footways have been re-kerbed with 45° kerbs to allow for a slightly wider cycleway, and resurfaced (although this is regrettably just black asphalt and not a more attractive material). Side roads have also had the footway built out to make for tighter corners for drivers, and shorter distances for pedestrians and cycles to cross.

The side roads will have a raised footway to act as a visual and physical speed bump for drivers. This design doesn’t quite comply with the recommended ones from the latest LTN1/20 statutory guidance, as it doesn’t protect the cycleway quite as well as the footway. However, it’s still a much safer design than currently, and I think most people will feel safe walking and riding across. Regrettably, there are no temporary plastic or asphalt ramps to allow pram/wheelchair users to cross the road before the raised table goes in, making the road unnecessarily inaccessible during construction.

Dropped kerb crossing at Bankwell Street, despite plans showing a raised table

One thing I have not been able to get an answer for, is why a number of roads (3 or 4) have been built with dropped kerbs rather than raised crossings as they are shown on the plans. Bankwell Street, above, clearly has new dropped kerbs, but the plans show it as a raised table. It is unclear whether this is contractor error, a temporary accessible solution, or a change in the plans.

On a more exciting note, the first bus stop is well underway! The previous lay-by (which served to delay buses and endanger cyclists for motorist convenience) has been filled in, with cyclists going round the back of a new bus island in the road. There do appear to be some differences from the plans: the “rain garden” planting areas have not been built: again it is unclear whether they are yet to go in, or have been removed from the plans. The bus shelter has also not been moved to the island (yet?)

Hopefully, now these prepatory works are nearly finished, the cycleway can start to be constructed in the new year! It’s still amazing to finally see progress on the construction of this route since my post way back in 2019 on the then radio silence!

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