A proposed new design for a junction treatment in the metropolitan borough of Trafford, southwest of Manchester city center, is exciting cycle campaigners because, if built, it could look similar to the iconic Hovenring bicycle bridge in the Dutch city of Eindhoven.
The Hovenring is a circular cycle bridge suspended by a 70-meter high pylon. It was designed by Dutch design company ipv Delft and opened in 2012. It “floats” above a roundabout—with cyclists vertically separated from motorists. Photos of the floating bridge often go viral on social media.
Greater Manchester’s version—proposed by the near-100-year-old infrastructure consultancy Amey—would rise above the White City interchange in Stretford, close to Manchester United’s Old Trafford soccer stadium.
The bid for the elevated cycleway—which would link a newly built protected ground-level cycleway with others opening in the near future—is at an early stage, but Jonathan Fingland, co-chair of campaign group Trafford Cycle Forum, welcomed the plans saying that the proposed bridge would be a “symbol of ambition” that could “transform the way we travel.”
On October 9, British transport planner Brian Deegan joked on Twitter that “the Dutch will be coming to Manchester to study how to do things properly.” Deegan works for the London design practice Urban Movement and is an advisor to Chris Boardman, the former Olympic champion turned Greater Manchester cycling and walking commissioner.
While Deegan’s comment was tongue-in-cheek—he also said plans for the forthcoming Chorlton cycleway were “amazing and better than absolutely everything in Holland”—there’s no escaping that Greater Manchester has started to radically transform some of its streets and roads to rein back motoring in favor of walking and cycling.
Naturally, this transformation will take many years, a great deal of money, and continued commitment from local politicians. There will likely be bitter opposition from motorists, who have received the lion’s share of the U.K.’s transport spend time out of mind.
Deegan leads workshops for Greater Manchester’s traffic engineers, getting them to brainwave designs for “protected junctions” that mesh with the U.K.’s labyrinthine planning guidelines.
Earlier this year Deegan told a climate-change evidence gathering session in the Irish Parliament: “Those who believe automobility is the future are only fooling themselves.”