Anger over lack of cycle lanes in £9m Manchester city centre scheme as cyclist is hurt in accident

It comes after Manchester city council invested £9m to upgrade one of the city centre’s busiest roads.

<p>Artist’s impression of improvements to Great Ancoats Street in 2019. Credit: Manchester City Council.</p>

Artist’s impression of improvements to Great Ancoats Street in 2019. Credit: Manchester City Council.

A recent £9m revamp of a major road in Manchester which controversially featured no cycle lanes has been condemned as a ‘missed opportunity’ after a cyclist was left with a ‘life-threatening injury’ from a car crash last weekend.

The cyclist was taken to hospital on Sunday afternoon (15 May) with a head injury following a collision with a car on Great Ancoats Street at around 5pm.

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No arrests have been made in relation to the incident so far, but the news has sparked anger among some who claim this was ‘an accident waiting to happen’.

It comes after Manchester city council invested £9m to upgrade one of the city centre’s busiest roads – but no cycle lanes were created as part of the plans.

Artist’s impression of improvements to Great Ancoats Street in 2019. Credit: Manchester City Council.

Dozens of cyclists protested the plans for the inner ring road which connects the Northern Quarter to Ancoats, New Islington and Piccadilly in July 2019.

And when the work was finally finished in March 2021, many questioned whether the promise of a ‘European-style boulevard’ had been fulfilled.

‘It’s busy, dirty and crowded’

Now, although the circumstances of the accident involving the cyclist are not yet clear, some have expressed their anger at the situation.

Jonathan Atkinson, who lives in Glossop, uses the road as a cyclist regularly.

He said: “I cycle down Great Ancoats daily to work. It’s busy, dirty and crowded.

“The main issue for bikes is that the four lanes of traffic afford virtually no room to cycle safely.

“It might sound daft, but this has been an accident waiting to happen and many cyclists have tried to engage with the council to highlight this.

“Occasionally, I use the Ancoats back streets that are currently being converted to a cycle path, but many of the streets are cobbled and unsuitable for most road bikes.

“After the recent Great Ancoats Street rebuild, this is unfortunately another waste of money.”

Loz Kaye, who is the musical director of the Hope Mill Community Choir and a former local resident, has to cross the major road to get to work every week.

He said: “We have been warning for years that Great Ancoats Street is dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.

“But people were ignored while housing expanded massively.

“The work on Great Ancoats Street was a massive missed opportunity to make the area safer for residents with adequate infrastructure.

“We were promised a tree lined boulevard. What we got was a death trap in a residential area.”

What has the council said?

When the plans were first revealed, Manchester council said that a dedicated cycleway on Great Ancoats Street would reduce traffic capacity too much.

However, the council promised that there would be other schemes coming forward in the future that promote cycling and walking within the city centre.

Ancoats and Beswick councillor Majid Dar says he would support any scheme that improves safety for cyclists and encourages active travel such as walking.

But the Labour councillor admits the recent work was a ‘missed opportunity’.

He said: “I’m all for cycle lanes across the city and in our ward.

“I would say it was a missed opportunity and I wish it could have been included.

“If we’ve got an opportunity to get main roads done and the space is there, I’m all for it.”

More than 20 new crossing points were created on Great Ancoats Street as part of the recent upgrade and 63 new trees were planted along the route.

Funding is secured for two new cycling routes between Piccadilly and Victoria station through the Northern Quarter, and through Ancoats and New Islington.

This includes the North East Gateway – a continuous cycling and walking route linking areas to the north and east of Manchester – and plans funded through the City Centre Active Travel Fund which will soon be subject to consultation.

Manchester City Council leader Coun Bev Craig

Commenting on the latest news, Manchester city council leader Bev Craig said: “First and foremost our thoughts are with the injured cyclist and their family.

“We don’t know at this stage the circumstances behind this collision therefore it would not be appropriate to speculate its cause.

“The council has been open with its commitment in the past to providing new cycling infrastructure, especially in the city centre.

“Two schemes are currently under way that will make it easier and safer for cyclists to travel in the city centre, the City Centre Active Travel Fund and the Northern and Eastern Gateway scheme.

“Looking forward, Manchester’s ambition is to be world class for walking and cycling infrastructure, and we are accelerating work on an ambitious walking and cycling plan to provide the best possible network for residents across the city.

“More information will be released in the coming months that builds on the work of Greater Manchester’s Bee Network and takes international inspiration to invest in long term solutions.”

  • Anyone with information about the incident in Great Ancoats Street on Sunday should contact police using the live chat feature of the GMP website or by contacting 0161 856 4741 and quoting incident reference 2362-150522.

Alternatively, information can be passed anonymously via the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.