Commuter cycling is growing in Manchester. Pull up at the traffic lights in the city centre at peak hour and you’re seldom alone in the advanced stop box. There’s a definite cycling scene, partly based on Manchester’s historical position as a strong cycling city and fed by the growing tribes of urban commuters, fixie riders and a huge student population, many of whom move by bike.
Journeys into Manchester City Centre increased by 4% from 2009-2010 and more than doubled since 2002. Indeed pedal cycles made up nearly 5% of all vehicles crossing the Inner Ring Road during the most recent survey in 2010. Manchester's busiest cycling thoroughfare, Oxford Road, linking the city centre and the university district sees an average of 1602 pedal cycles between 07:00 and 19:00 on weekdays.
Free adult cycle training and free Bike Friday led rides each month, together with a significant investment in cycle parking and routes have all led to encouraging modal shift in the city.
Cycle route provision
Manchester’s position as the cradle of the industrial revolution has left its mark in many ways. The lasting legacy for cyclists has been the canal and railway network, which forms the basis of the city’s major regional and national cycling routes, with a number of National Cycle Network (NCN) routes converging on the city. From north west, NCN55 uses the former Tyldesley and Roe Green Looplines to link Wigan with Manchester, traffic-free until Monton where it threads through quiet streets before joining Eccles New Road and heading into Manchester City Centre.
NCN 6 connects Bury and Manchester on a mixture of streets and traffic-free paths, joining NCN60 (AKA the Fallowfield Loop) at Chorlton-cum-Hardy. The Fallowfield loopline is essentially the cyclist’s M60, a partial outer ring road which encircles the south-eastern quadrant of the city. At its far end NCN60 joins the Ashton Canal towpath, linking up with Regional Route 86 near the National Cycling Centre.
Regional Route 86 follows the River Medlock from the eastern edge of the city centre, near Piccadilly, and follows the river through Phillips Park and Clayton Vale. The Trans Pennine Trail (NCN62) crosses the south of the city on its coast to coast journey, linking up with NCN60 at Chorlton.
Finally, NCN66 uses the Rochdale Canal Towpath to provide a traffic-free route from the north-east of the city, terminating near Manchester Piccadilly station.
CycleGM, the city’s primary source for cycling information, has a number of maps detailing further cycling routes in the city, with traffic-free paths, on-road routes and recommended ‘quiet’ routes all clearly marked.
There are currently 760 publicly available cycle parking spaces in the city centre and 2460 across the University of Manchester estate. In addition to on-street facilities, “Bike Lockers Users Club” (BLUC) is a cycle parking scheme to encourage people to use their cycles to travel to train, Metrolink and bus stations and town centre locations across Greater Manchester. Manchester City Council's Cycle Parking Map.
Cycling and trains
Manchester City Centre has three main railway stations. At Piccadilly station, there are cycle racks on Fairfield Street, in the long stay car park and on Station Approach. Manchester Victoria has 38 cycle stands on the platform and the station approach, while Manchester Oxford road has Sheffield stands on the approach. In terms of taking bikes on trains, check with your train operator for further details.
As befits a city with a strong cycling tradition, Manchester has many bike shops, ranging from the edgy GBH Custom Hacks in Northern Quarter to big chains like Evan’s Cycles, the latter having branches on Deansgate and at the National Cycling Centre. The long established Harry Hall Cycles is based on Whitworth Street near Deansgate station while Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative is based in Rusholme to the south of the city.
Don’t leave home without...
Cycle GM’s cycle map, which details cycle routes, parking, shops and more in the city. A range of further maps from CycleGM details the entire Greater Manchester conurbation.
Cycle GM – the place to go for news, events, advice and resources -
Loveyourbike.org – Manchester Friends of the Earth cycling campaign group
MORE SUPPORT FOR YOUR COMMUTE: Ride Membership offers bike commuters legal protection, insurance and discounts on essential commuting kit. Click here for more details