INVESTING IN EXCELLENCE – ACHIEVING MEDIOCRITY
The Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign (GMCC)/Cyclists Touring Club (CTC) Annual
Progress Report on the Greater Manchester Local Transport Plan’s achievements for Cycling
In the Local Transport Plan (LTP) 2001/02-2005/6, the ten Greater Manchester (GM) councils
announced they were committed to the promotion of cycling and to the principles of the
National Cycling Strategy (NCS). The NCS included a commitment to a doubling, by 2002, of
cycle use across the country from 1996 levels. This has not been achieved. The GM cycling
strategy and LTP also set targets and indicators for:
reducing cyclist casualties,
increasing cycle training,
reducing cycle theft,
developing cycle parking standards,
The LTP contains methods of measuring these targets, many of which the authors contend are
neither appropriate nor capable of producing meaningful figures. Both GMCC and CTC have
made separate submissions on monitoring, pointing out the inadequacy and lack of
comprehensibility of methods.
This report is intended to give cyclists’ views of progress towards the LTP commitment to
cycling, based on information from Local Authorities (LAs), research and opinions of local
2. HAS THE SHORT TERM LTP CYCLING STRATEGY BEEN DELIVERED?
The first annual progress report for the LTP (programme year 2000/01) identified a number of
short-term actions for completion by LAs before the end of April 2002, as follows:
2.1 Each Authority to have in place a local cycling strategy – not achieved.
GMCC has contacted all LAs twice and checked their websites to confirm this. Table 1 below
summarises the situation at end April 2002.
Table 1. Summary of GM Local Authority progress on cycling strategy and forum.
Authority Cycling Strategy? Cycle Forum?
Bolton Published in 1998 Yes
Bury Adopted in 1996 Yes, minutes published at
Manchester Published in 2001 Yes
Oldham No (draft prepared) Yes
Rochdale No response to request for information
Salford Published 1994, copy not available, under No
Stockport Published in 1999 Yes
Tameside No. ‘Statement of Intent’ (1996) on No
Trafford Yes, undated. Defunct during year 2001-2002
Wigan Undated document available via website No response to request for
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2.2 Each authority to identify a cycle network as part of their local cycling strategy -
We have been unable to establish if this has been achieved, but bearing in mind the situation
shown in Table 1 above, it seems unlikely.
2.3 To establish a GM Cycle Officers Group – achieved with reservations.
This has been achieved – the full list of officers was published recently in the GMPTA
magazine ‘On Yer Bike’. However, it is clear that not all cycling officers are:
full time – many have other responsibilities and the time they devote to cycling issues varies
suitably trained, particularly in the overall issues concerned with cycling,
given suitable authority to carry out their responsibilities,
2.4 To complete and promote the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT) multi-user Millennium route
– achieved with reservations.
The route, which passes through Trafford, Manchester, Stockport and Tameside, is complete but
there are problems with signage and routing in some areas e.g. Stockport town centre. In
addition, some sections are unusable in winter (one in Trafford is a particularly bad), and the
standard of maintenance varies considerably across the authorities. This does not help
promotion of the route.
2.5 To establish baseline data for monitoring levels of cycle use – in progress.
There is now a network of automatic monitoring stations for cycles in all authorities. In
addition, manual traffic surveys have been carried out, although anecdotal evidence suggests the
contractors performing these routinely ignore cyclists. We accept this is a difficult task given
the large number of routes.
In summary, the short-term action plan has not been completed on time.
3. QUALITY OF CYCLING STRATEGIES
3.1 The NCS, first published in 1996, contained a model ‘local cycling strategy’. In view of
this, we consider it disgraceful that, since then, several GM authorities have produced either:
a document that bears no relation to the model strategy,
a strategy that does not contain the main points set out in the model document.
3.2 Implementation of strategies has been very poor. Despite the best efforts of cycling officers
in several GM authorities, cycling strategies have largely remained as tokens to a commitment
to increasing cycling. There has been no or little progress by the authorities on:
incorporation of cycling issues into long term strategic plans and other policies, such as
planning and integrated transport.
audit and review of the benefits or otherwise to cyclists of road traffic schemes.
adoption of official guidance on cycle friendly infrastructure.
education of: a significant proportion of school children; other road users; and employers on
safe cycling and the benefits of cycling.
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3.3 Barriers to the implementation of LAs’cycling strategies, identified by cyclists from a survey
by the GMCC/CTC in the GM area, include:
lack of political will and commitment within LAs,
intransigence/lack of knowledge by traffic engineers in adopting guidance on cycle friendly
poor communication between LA departments,
shortage of suitably trained and qualified staff,
lack of meaningful consultation by LAs with cyclists,
precedence of the car/road lobby,
lack of funding.
3.4 The LTP has many fine words about cycling strategies, integrated transport and cycle
friendliness, but it is apparent that, so far, authorities have been unable to convert these
aspirations into a coherent approach to cycling issues. The wide disparity between authorities is
also obvious and disturbing. We consider there will continue to be little progress unless the
ongoing LTP process addresses and rectifies these management issues.
4. CYCLING PROVISION
4.1 On road.
On road provision for cycles continues to be problematic. Cyclists surveyed are generally of the
opinion that poor progress has been made in this area. As mentioned above, there is a lack of
awareness amongst most GM traffic engineers of:
the hierarchy of road users, which places pedestrians and cyclist above motor vehicles,
official guidance from the DTLR and professional bodies on cycle friendly infrastructure,
the stated aim of LAs to increase the number of people cycling,
the fact that poorly designed cycle provision is both a disincentive to cyclists and a waste of
tax payers money,
the fact that, in some cases, no cycle provision is better than poorly designed schemes, as
they annoy both cyclists and other road users.
One indication of a lack of official knowledge of beneficial on-road schemes is that some LAs
use the length of cycle lane painted on roads as an indicator of increased cycle provision, not
whether that cycle lane is any use to cyclists.
There is a stated commitment to ‘getting the small things right’ in the LTP, including a
recommendation on ‘the use of an audit process to ensure that the detail of schemes is
considered in both the design and implementation process’. Bearing this in mind, GM LAs
have widely failed to make progress in this area.
4.2 Off road.
Some authorities have made considerable progress in this area, e.g. Bury, Manchester.
However, we contend that the funding through LTP and other funds for schemes, although fine
for construction, does not generally take into account future maintenance costs. Two examples
of the impact of this are the overgrowth of vegetation on the A57 off road route from Irlam to
Peel Green in Salford (see photo below), and on the Trans Pennine Trail access routes in
Stockport. These act as a disincentive to cyclists. The TPT itself is impassable to cyclists for
more than half the year at Kicketty Brook in Trafford. There is also a lack of consistency
between authorities on surfaces. Cyclists favour tarmac for all year round use but some
authorities continue to favour less suitable surfaces.
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The issue of maintenance applies to all schemes, on and off road. Authorities appear to have
insufficient funding to sweep cycle tracks and cycle lanes, repair damaged surfaces and cut back
vegetation on both on and off road cycle routes on a regular basis. The LTP funding appears not
to address this issue. If it does, it is clear that Councils are diverting this funding to other
4.4 Cross boundary working.
There is evidence that adjacent authorities are poor at co-operating on cycling schemes that
could contribute to continuous provision across boundaries. We can only speculate as to
whether this is due to lack of contact and planning, petty rivalry or plain incompetence.
Whatever the reason, the LTP process could and should deal with this much better.
5. INTEGRATED TRANSPORT
5.1 Cycle parking.
Several authorities have made considerable progress in increasing suitable cycle parking
provision in the last year. Stockport have done good work on parking at stations and
Manchester’s city centre parking has improved dramatically. However, there has been a
disappointing lack of progress on provision in other areas. The failure to provide any cycle
parking at all but one station on the Manchester to Bury Metrolink route is a disgrace, given
Metrolink’s current cycle carriage policy and the increase in park and ride spaces for cars.
Local authorities continue to permit either no cycle parking provision (e.g. The Lowry Centre)
or facilities with hopelessly inadequate design (e.g. Manchester Aquatics Centre, many
supermarkets) at public and private sector developments. Given the aim of the LTP in terms of
increasing cycling, it seems obvious that good quality cycle parking will encourage cyclists and
considerably reduce cycles being locked to the nearest railing or tree, which creates a scruffy
appearance and generates a bad image for cycling.
The most important rail station in the LTP area, Manchester Piccadilly, illustrates well the
apparent unawareness towards cycling as part of an integrated transport system. During
reconstruction, cyclists have found it difficult to locate secure cycle parking. Recently installed
secure lockers are not available for use ‘for security reasons’, while prominent notices continue
to be displayed threatening people who park their bikes in general view with clamping.
The LTP and local cycling strategies refer to good quality cycle parking but there are a
depressingly high number of recent examples where this essential component has not permeated
into council planning departments, including secure cycle parking at new home developments.
5.2 Cycle Carriage on heavy/light rail/buses.
The NCS model local cycling strategy policy 11 advocates the full integration of cycling with
public transport to facilitate cycle use as part of longer journeys. Its definition of integration
includes the convenient carriage of cycles on trains, buses and trams. Its action plan includes
achievement, by 2007, of flexible space on all trains to accommodate 6 cycles.
The LTP fails to address this issue, so maybe the lack of progress is not counted as a failure.
However, we consider that this is of vital importance. Although some GM authorities have
included improving cycle carriage facilities on new heavy rail rolling stock in their submissions
to new rail franchise processes, most have done nothing. Cyclists’ perceptions are that new
rolling stock has less, and more inconvenient, provision for cycle carriage. Taking a bike on
local trains is generally considered satisfactory off peak, but peak hour carriage and longer
journeys out of the area are more of a problem. Substitute bus services during rail engineering
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works may refuse to carry a bike even when carriage has been paid for. Anecdotal evidence
suggests that this multi-modal travel pattern is increasing, and is an important contribution to
Cycle carriage on Metrolink was the subject of a public consultation earlier this year and official
results are still awaited by cycling organisations. Cyclists generally support cycle carriage on
Metrolink and regard it as an opportunity for Greater Manchester to demonstrate progress
towards a more enlightened, UK leading, integrated transport system.
No progress was planned and none has been achieved towards integration of cycle carriage on
buses. However, we recommend that this possibility be investigated further. There are several
examples of successful schemes in the UK, particularly in more rural areas. These include
carriage inside the vehicle in dual-purpose space. The forthcoming closure and work on the
Manchester-Oldham-Rochdale rail route would be an ideal opportunity to trial such a scheme.
6. EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Many GM local authorities operate cycle training schemes, although the numbers trained are
relatively low and are not linked to encouragement of Safe Routes to Schools schemes. There
are honourable exceptions, such as the ongoing schemes in the Chorlton area of Manchester,
which, if successful, we hope will act as a spur for other authorities. We consider that generally,
the performance has been poor in this area.
Young people are not cycling to school – the lack of secure cycle parking and risk perceptions
of teachers and parents are contributing factors. Statistics show that cycling is less dangerous
than being driven to school. By educating teachers and parents on this issue, authorities could
reduce the number of pupils being driven to school, and increase the number of cyclists.
The government’s targets for increasing the number of trips by bike cannot be achieved by
getting children to cycle only. Any strategy must include the promotion of cycling to adults, yet
few authorities have addressed this issue. Stockport has a community cycling scheme and
Stepping Hill Hospital has a progressive cycling to work scheme. Local cycling campaign
groups, such as GMCC, Cycle Stockport, the local CTC clubs and some bike shops, make a
contribution to the adult education process from the ground up. However, LAs have failed in
their attempts to address this issue. Health campaigners do not attend most cycle forums, so an
important link in the strategy is missing.
6.3 Other Road Users.
In order to create conditions favourable to cycling, it is important that other road users are aware
of cyclists’ needs in terms of space and manoeuvrability. Whilst driver education is not part of
the LTP’s remit, one area where it can have an impact is on policies concerning bus drivers,
which cyclists frequently mentioned as being unsympathetic in on-road interactions. We
consider this problem is more one of lack of knowledge than anti-cycle bias, so we would
recommend that awareness of cyclists be incorporated in bus driver training.
The Government, in its LTP settlement letter of December 2001, set out improvements it wished
to see in the area of public consultation. One of these was evidence of effective public
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Cycle Forums are the most obvious arenas for this to take place for cyclists, but not all LAs have
them, some do not meet regularly, and others are poorly focused. In some cases this means
opportunities to consider important strategic issues are lost in discussions on the ‘nit-picking’
details of road schemes, which could be handled by correct use of cycle audit schemes.
Currently, most Cycle Forums may be seen as good for networking, but poor for getting results
on progress in cycling issues.
Some authorities, e.g. Manchester, are showing a positive approach to cycling issues by, in the
last year, consulting cyclists early in the process for local road design schemes. We welcome
this and urge its adoption by all GM authorities.
Cyclist are also consulted in larger schemes, such as JETTS, SEMMS and the LTP External
Liaison Group (ELG). However, experience of these schemes is generally that cyclists are
marginalised – cycling is not seen as a form of transport. Since the inception of the LTP, we
consider the ELG has proved to be a particularly ineffective forum for cyclists to attend – in fact
the general impression is that it is ineffective for all groups attending. Its relevance must be
effectively restated, otherwise it will continue purely as a token gesture.
We consider that the first annual progress report on the Greater Manchester LTP gave a false
impression that significant progress on cycling issues had been made. The draft second edition
appears to contain the same over-optimistic tone. We hope that our report gives a fairer, cycle
user view of the very slow progress made by most GM local authorities and the Greater
Manchester Passenger Transport Authority in addressing aspects of the LTP concerned with
cycling and increasing cycle use. We have not been able to include all the information available
due to constraints of resources, but we have aimed to produce a more user-friendly document
than the LTP itself or the Annual Reports.
It is clear that, since targets to do with cycling have been missed, renewed efforts by GM LAs in
the areas of implementation of policies, joined up thinking and consultation will be needed in
the next two years, to make up lost ground. We urge those responsible for the LTP and LA
policies to ensure that the right encouragement is given to all LA officers (planning,
environment, traffic etc) and other bodies, e.g. the police, to improve performance considerably
over the efforts of the last two years. They must aim to stop looking at cycling and other
transport related issues such as road safety (e.g. slower speeds), health and planning in isolation.
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