Manchester’s Oxford Road, “one of the busiest public transport routes in Europe”, is to feature the city’s first Dutch-style segregated cycle route, with private cars banned during the day to tackle congestion and encourage more people to cycle.
Following more than 2,000 comments from 900 people on the Oxford Road scheme, plans were altered to extend the Dutch-style tracks along Whitworth Park and the University precinct, as well as physically separating more of the route than was originally planned.
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A computer-generated fly-through of the route shows cycle tracks bypassing 13 of the route’s 14 bus stops, a section of the route through parkland and mandatory cycle lanes bordered by solid white lines.
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) Committee, said: “This is an exciting scheme that will revolutionise sustainable travel along one of the busiest routes into Manchester city centre, with better access to the universities, healthcare and businesses along the route.
“As well as speeding up bus journey times and improving cycling, pedestrians using Oxford Road will benefit from wider footpaths and safer crossing points along the route.
Oxford Road is home to Manchester Royal Infirmary, two universities, the Manchester Museum, a Student Union and Manchester Aquatics Centre, with student residences nearby. A spokesperson for Transport for Greater Manchester said 65 per cent of respondents were in favour of the plans, which are part of the city’s £54 million bus priority scheme.
At the moment the route is heavily congested, making journey times unpredictable for the up to 100 buses which use Oxford Road per hour.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said: “This is part of a major investment in our infrastructure that will help us make travel greener and more sustainable while also providing huge benefits for the city’s economy.
“These are exciting plans which will transform public transport in Manchester, making bus journeys quicker and more reliable, while also introducing Dutch-style cycling lanes which will provide huge improvements for cyclists on one of the country’s busiest bike routes.”
Taxis, buses, cycles and emergency vehicles will be permitted during the day, with all other traffic allowed between 9pm and 6am only.
The spokesperson for TfGM said work should start next year, pending final approval of the plans.