Saturday, 9 October 2010

Crossing the Mancunian Way

The other day I had an excuse to cycle during work hours as I needed to get from the City centre to the Whalley Range area. The obvious route would be to have gone down Medlock Street and crossed the roundabout to then use the cycle route beside Princess Road, but that would mean navigating the frankly horrible looking roundabout underneath the Mancunian Way (see the roundabout to the right of the googlemap below). I'm fine with that and don't get phased at all by the prospect of crossing a multilane roundabout on a bike and I did quite fancy seeing what the Princess Road cyclepath had to offer.

However thats when I noticed the curved bridge over the top of the Mancunian Way that you can see circled on the googlemap. When you are down in the real world rather than flying around on Googlemaps its really difficult to know that something like this exists. A cyclist would pedal up Medlock St and find themselves with a choice of crossing the giant roundabout or trying to navigate the underground tunnels, neither are great options, when the whole time there is a fantastic facility in the form of this bridge hidden away off down a side street. It is actually part of route 6 of the national cycle network, but thats not much help for Joe Bloggs on his bike who doesnt have a full set of maps and google in his back pocket (fancy phones don't count).

Ok everyone knows and accepts that the cycling infrastructure in this country is generally a bit dreadful, but occasionally there is a gem, and this felt like one of them. The problem is connecting up the dots so that facilities like this form an enjoyable route from A2B (wherever your A and B are). The 'superhighways' in London have had alot of stick, and yes they are pathetic compared to even a basic Dutch cyclepath, but I guess at least they provide a big blue line to follow easily and make best use of the existing facilities.(I'm not exonerating them, they are still pathetic)

At present the only thing on Medlock St that might give you a clue of this Bridge existing is a tiny blue sign on a lampost. Take a look  at the Streetview image, can you spot the sign?. Say you are cycling along here for the first time, your attention is on the cyclelane and the road around you. 4 out of 5 times you are going to miss this sign and carry on up the cycelane (which just ends at a bus stop anyway) and straight onto the big roundabout.

Anyway here's a few shots of the bridge in all of it's completely non-roundabout pleasantness.
A view of the traffic you have just avoided coming into contact with

I'm not sure if this is a 'crap cycling' post, or a good one. The bridge itself is excellent and at least theres no CYCLISTS DISMOUNT signs present. The crap bit its that its effectively hidden away from all but those in the know.

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