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Bikes take over the city centre

A fun day on which cyclists - and fences - rule. Report and comment.

Published on August 8th 2011.

Bikes take over the city centre

A STROLL through the Sunday city on 7 August 2011 revealed lollipop people manning gaps between fences to help people cross the road. 

While Confidential agrees that the day was good, there was an irony in the lollipop men and women and the fences. 

They were guiding people between bikes as thousands of cyclists negotiated and speeded through a traffic free city centre roads which had been edged in fences and sealed from internal combustion engines of any sort. 

The city council claims that 18,500 adults and kids jumped on two wheels, or sometimes three and even four, to take part in Sky Ride Manchester. They were joined by singer Alexandra Burke, multiple world and Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy plus Great Britain Cycling Teams Matthew Crampton, Olympic Champion Jason Kenny and Team Sky’s Pete Kennaugh. 


The day marked the eighth event of Sky Ride 2011 - a national campaign to get one million people cycling regularly by 2013. The free cycling event hosted by Sky and British Cycling in partnership with Manchester City Council, allowed riders to take in the 11.5km, traffic free route at their own pace whilst enjoying some of the cities known landmarks including: Sportcity, Deansgate, Manchester Town Hall, The Wheel and Beetham Tower. 

Participants were treated to a whole host of activities and entertainment, along the route as well as in Castlefield and Sportcity, these included performances from local buskers, The Hip Hop Shakespeare Company and dancing Lollipop Ladies, plus the chance to buy bike accessories. 

As well as taking part in Sky Ride Manchester, local residents were also asked to take part in a nationwide poll and nominate their favourite hill to cycle down in the region. Backed by multiple world and Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy, the nationwide search will see the ultimate cycling descent being crowned the UK’s Perfect Hill. Entrants are asked to take in to consideration location, view, where the hill takes them, historical resonance and most importantly what the hill means to them. 

Sky Ride Manchester is just one of the ways people from the region can get back on their bikes through this year’s Sky Ride campaign. Sky Ride Local Rides are running every Sunday through the summer in and around Manchester which take in everything from the countryside to local sights.

There is also the Breeze network from British Cycling – a programme of bike rides and support just for women plus Bike Maintenance Workshops available in Manchester on 19 and 20 August. 

For more information on all the great ways to get back on your bike and, vote for your Perfect Hill visit: www.goskyride.com  

While Confidential agrees that the day was good, there was an irony in the lollipop men and women and the fences.

It was as though pedestrians needed protecting from the bikes. While other traffic, of course, needed barring from the route which was easily achieved with road closures, the partitioning of the city between walkers and riders meant that the bikes ruled the city centre.

Cyclists were absolved of any responsibility to look out for pedestrians. The event was therefore lopsided, ignoring that other element of engine free city centre use, walking and strolling. Cyclists and pedestrians should be in coalition in making their presence felt on our streets not set apart like this.

Maybe next year the organisers should close off the route to traffic in the city centre, steward the event but keep down the fences and make bikes stop at traffic lights - a good example to the kids taking part. Ignoring traffic lights is a frequent gripe of motorists about cyclists after all. 

In the route from Store Street to Sportcity outside the city centre people can get a bit of speed up, feel the freedom of the wind in their hair. 

King Street And Picnic 012


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13 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousAugust 8th 2011.

If there is no traffic other than bicyles on the roads what would be the point of stopping at traffic lights? Presumably to further sterilise the event in persuit of appeasing all those motorists that have a 'holier than thou' attitude to the highway code...

It's a one day event aimed at encouraging more people to cycle I don't believe the intention was to create a mass cycling proficiency test.

Peter MarshAugust 8th 2011.

The point would be to let people cross at pelican crossings on a green man instead of having all the fences and corralling people down the pavements.

ConnieAugust 8th 2011.

I'm a cyclist. I cycled in today from Didsbury. Yesterday's event was odd. I noted that separation between pavements and cyclists. Bit sinister I thought. I also had to walk for ages to find a gap in the fence to cross.

CBAugust 8th 2011.

If the event is bringing in 12,500 cyclists and pedestrians are allowed to cross anywhere then you'll find accidents definitely occurring - people won't just cross at traffic lights. Especially when you've got kids and other not regular cyclists taking part and you've got people trying to make their way accross the street.

By putting in set crossing areas and manning them you're reducing the risk of accidents happening.

If accidents occur and somebody (pedestrian or cyclist) choose to sue then it would fall on the event organiser as they would liable - they'd then have to argue what they'd put in place to mimimise the risk occuring (hence the barriers).

The risks to litigation for the event organiser far outweigh the aesthetics of the barriers to the feel of the event. I think they look bad too, but as an event organiser I can see why this has been done.

Apologies for the boring nature of my post...

Jason CraigAugust 8th 2011.

Not the case CB. At half twelve the cyclists were so thinned out that if they made sure they looked where they were going as did pedestrians than there would be no incidents - or a foolish few. Start the event at Sportscity and by the time the city centre is reached there wouldn't be a problem. The fences were fucking awful and barrier to movement.

VeloAugust 8th 2011.

Also - 18,500 cyclists? There were a few hundred maximum I reckon. As a cyclist myself it seemed more of an ad for Sky than a practical way to encourage people onto bikes.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Neil CrossAugust 8th 2011.

Sorry to disagree but there were thousands taking part.

The 18,500 came from people who registered.

Due to the weather many wouldn't have turned up but at least the same amount again didn't register.

Mason boyAugust 8th 2011.

It certainly was good for city centre businesses this corralling of the city centre off. Stuck on the wrong side of the fence and you were well and truly stuck. Very poor idea, that goes no way to achieving the desired result as Velo says.

AnonymousAugust 8th 2011.

Caused massive inconvenience to city centre shoppers / residents in order to provide an advertisement for Sky. Presumably Sky paid the council for the cost of blocking off streets? If so how much? Set Binnsy on it...

James SpencerAugust 11th 2011.

Why can't the event be held in Didsbury? I think the inconvenience to everyone else should be shared around. The year after it could be on Chorlton and then in Hale.

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