Chorlton-cum-Hardy’s new £1.4m Quality Bus Corridor is almost complete. Now this may seem like a very local story and I may be guilty of giving in to an unusually curmudgeonly sentiment. But I suspect there are lessons for anyone who lives near a main road in a city. Manchester’s due at least another two Quality Bus Corridors, so there’s a good chance other cities are queuing up for them. Ours replaces a former traffic calming scheme, which lasted around eighteen months. That scheme amounted to painting the middle third of the road red and barring it to traffic. It was calming in that it slowed traffic to a near standstill for most of the day, but frustrating for anyone with somewhere to go. Its removal has been a great success, as you can see, but now something else has come along. Something bigger. The Quality Bus Corridor.
The Quality Bus Corridor should not be confused with a bus lane. It’s much more than that. One element is what the Manchester Evening News has called on the ‘daftest bus stop in Britain’, a pavement platform that juts into the road. This replaces the bus bay and means buses can’t pull in to pick up passengers (not that they used to) and have instead to stop in the middle of the road holding everyone up. The MEN’s asked readers to come up with other daft ideas. They should have walked farther down the Quality Bus Corridor. They’d have quickly found perhaps the daftest bikeway in Britain. Where Barlow Moor Road meets Sandy Lane the pavement’s been re-tarmacked and a series of bike routes painted out in green, complete with give way markings. As if cyclists ever follow the Highway Code. Perhaps recognising cyclists’ rebellious nature, concrete blocks have been strategically placed in a silly attempt to force them to stick to the green bits.
A little farther on is Chorlton Bus Station. Here a yellow box junction has been moved another thirty centimetres into the road and placed at a jaunty angle. Whoopee. Beyond the bus station is an actual bus lane. It’s more or less redundant because most of the busses begin or terminate at the bus station and so never use it. Farther down again is a brand new bus stop. The sign says lots of busses stop here, but it’s referring to extended routes that are rarely taken.
Farther down again, from Chorlton Park to Southern Cemetery Barlow Moor Road boasts four bike lanes; two on the pavement and two on the road. However, the cyclists still prefer to use the pavement. I think the summary execution of, let’s say, six pavement using cyclists a day would send a clear message and solve this, but that’s not going to happen.
What makes the cyclists’ continued preference for the pavement all the stranger, is that throughout the Quality Bus Corridor the pavements have been shattered. This is something that becomes all the more apparent when you visit the bus stops (especially the redundant one), because the contrast is huge. After treading carefully over the broken pavestones and cracked tarmac, you suddenly come to a little oasis, the daftest bus stop in Britain. Perhaps.