Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Impressions from Tameside Cycle Forum

I can’t be arsed trying to type up a full account of last night’s cycle forum, so here’s a few bullet points for anyone out there who has never been to their local cycle forum or wonders what might go on in others. (this is the first I’ve ever been to)

Sorry if they all seem negative!. Just my personal impressions, I'm sure others had a variety of takes on the same.

First there was a presentation by Richard Dolphin from Greater Manchester Urban Traffic Control which was mainly about the different types of traffic light systems and crossings that are used across the country and Manchester. Richard was a really nice bloke and a regular cyclist too. Impressions from his presentation were:

  • That although all the systems are very sophisticated (a lot more sophisticated than I had thought) all that sophistication is good for nothing when there are simply too many cars on the roads.
  • How much is spent on fancy systems like SCOOT when providing a proper cycle network would achieve the same goals more effectively?.
  • Richard swears blind that the induction loops that are buried in the road to detect the presence of traffic DO detect all types of bicycle – shame that that has no resemblance to reality! They are useless unless you are on four wheels.
  • It appears to be unthinkable to have a press button that immediately stops all traffic to allow a cyclist to safely proceed in any direction on their own phase. (It’s all detection loops and radar cameras that don’t work and only wait until all the car phases have finished anyway).
  • All these fancy systems linked into a huge network must be horrifically expensive but can’t solve the simple problem of there being too many cars.
  • All the traffic light systems are part of a huge integrated network. it seems the country is too far down that path to think about approaching traffic management in any other way.
  • Ridiculous toucan crossing setups on massive junctions (where a cyclist is expected to use about 6 separate crossings to turn right etc) are only there for mums and kids. It’s presumed ‘real’ cyclists will pretend to be a car and use the junction as if they are motorised traffic.
  • There is no comprehension that certain junctions/roads (i.e as in the last point) have a v.low cyclist count because they are utterly terrifying and therefore nobody on two wheels dares go near them.
  • Stats etc about traffic & congestion in Manchester available at www.gmtu.gov.uk/

Impressions of the meeting in general (after the GMUTC presentation had finished):

  • The fact that nothing has ever been done about problems such as Denton Roundabout prove to newcomers that the cycle forum has a serious problem with achieving important goals. Which may or may not be due to a lack of cooperation/bureaucracy.
  • Every other word from council employees is about the lack of money and cuts, totally understandable if you are worried about your job, but does seem like its being too readily used as an excuse.
  • No details of the Sustainable Transport Fund have yet been released to the councils, but no doubt Stagecoach have got a copy knocking about somewhere ;)
  • It’s very difficult to get any ideas and points across when time is short and there are others who want to speak, so for people like me it’s probably best to get things down in writing and email them over afterwards. (or in other words I'm too polite to moan in person, so I'll do it via email)
  • Apparently certain issues such as street cleaning and policing of bad parking, ASL’s etc are best addressed at the District Assembly. Although I can guess that if you went there they would suggest you go to the Cycle forum instead!
  • There is lots of cycle parking in Ashton - except none of it is anywhere near where it should be!. - suggestions on a postcard. I'll be making my own suggestion as soon as I can get a photo of the precedent I'm thinking of.
  • There did seem to be genuine interest in suggestions for cycle parking/ solutions to certain problems on roads etc. I guess the only way councils will know that a certain road is a problem is if people inform them - whether they can do anything about it once they know is a different matter though!.
 Can't think of much else right now.
Had a great pootle back to Hyde following Ian with a lot less traffic than I’m used to on my normal rush-hour rides, but every ASL had a vehicle in it (it’s so common I don’t even notice anymore!) and we managed to get beeped at for being two abreast & chatting when approaching a red light. Bloody cyclists! People on bikes!.

It's not all bad, If you want to see some guys who are cheery even when they are getting beaten down every week just have a look at these poor gits!


  1. Thanks for the write up Jim. I may go along to one of these when I’m back in A-u-L.

  2. That covers it pretty well Jim. Of course it could get better in many ways from our side of the table, but then your last bullet point will apply too - so who knows?

    Almost forgot about the Audi driver beeping - hope I didn't teach ya any new words LOL