Metrolink: (Further) Degrading Floop accessibility

A few weeks ago, during my tandem test weekend, I noticed that the already irritating barriers installed prior to the tram crossing at the Chorlton end of the Floop had been re-positioned to provide a serious (possibly impenetrable) barrier to access for anyone riding a cargo bike, tandem, tag-along, bike trailer, modified disability cycle or anyone using a mobility scooter or other mobility aid.

The irritating and unnecessary barriers to access which already existed on the Floop have been well documented. Whilst these barriers should be ripped out as a matter of priority, it is worse still to introduce new barriers, and then to re-position them so as to produce maximum inconvenience to users of the Floop.

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Facing towards Fallowfield

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Other side of the tracks, facing towards Chorlton

The fact that this work was done recently (and shoddily) combined with the fact that the barriers had already been installed once previously, makes me wonder what consultative processes Metrolink’s barrier redesign went through before being approved by the local authority, cycling campaigns, disability groups, pedestrian groups, Sustrans, Friends of the Fallowfield Loop and so on. My guess is that the work was done without any consultation whatsover, and that the issue of the degradation of access to one of the only cycle facilities in Greater Manchester must therefore be raised at the next Manchester Cycle Forum.

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Users of cargo bikes (particularly when loaded) face great difficulties when trying to pass the poorly re-designed barriers.

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The tandem, being approximately 20 cm longer than a Yuba Mundo, presented its own problems when attempting to pass this barrier

This barrier re-design, whist only a small local issue, embodies everything which is wring with provision for cycling in the UK; the assumption that making cycling inconvenient isn’t a problem because anyone on a cycle is obviously only doing so for leisure. They couldn’t possibly be trying to conveniently get somewhere in a timely manner, or they’d have gone by car, right?

Chorlton’s Big Green Festival

On Saturday I visited Chorlton’s Big Green Festival. I was asked by the GMCC to help out with a group ride from Oxford Road station to the festival, to help both novice riders who were nervous about cycling in traffic and also to help anyone else to find the way. When I arrived at the meeting point I met Mr Mad Cycle Lanes of Manchester on his recumbent quadricycle (a Brox Compact)  and a few others who were there for the guided ride, in addition to my counterpart from ibikemcr.

Some of the group seemed slightly surprised to be led on a group ride by two people dressed casually and riding non-sport-oriented bikes. I felt this was a good thing, as I am very much in favour of re-normalising cycling so that it isn’t perceived by the general public as a primarily sporting or dangerous activity. Further to this aim, I proceeded to eat my breakfast cookie during the gentle-paced ride to the Fallowfield Loop. There is a great write up about the experience of riding a recumbent quad down the Loop, and the unnecessary and openly discriminatory barriers which are present on the loop here.

Once at the festival, we proceeded to join in the bike parade, where I met another Yuba Mundo owner (a V1):

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Which I managed to get a better shot of later:

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Note the difference in the rack support tubes to the V2 & 3 Yuba Mundo

The festival had a wide variety of green businesses and causes to peruse, a great deal of which were bicycle-related, from the largely sport-oriented Cycle Logic to the utilitarian Practical Cycles and even a dance off between our local bicycle dance troupe The Spokes and their counterparts from Bristol, Les Velobici.

There were plenty of interesting bikes around too:

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A Larry Vs Harry Bullit, as ridden by Mikael from Copenhagenize and Dave from 42 Bikes

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A Birdy folding bike, one of the more credible Brompton competitors

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The Dutch ID Fillibus at the Practical Cycles stall

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And this lovely Gazelle, to show just a few

Light-Evening Landmark

Yesterday I visited my cat and family in Rochdale as I often do. Because the nights have finally drawn out enough for me to ride it before dark and the pleasant weather, I decided to ride the DL-1 rather than taking the Brompton on the train. Rather than suffer the perils of Oldham Road, I decided to take an alternative route along a popular rat-run (so popular in fact that the motorised traffic was travelling nice and slowly):

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=d&source=s_d&saddr=manchester&daddr=53.47779,-2.23214+to:53.48544,-2.21177+to:failsworth&hl=en&geocode=FQgNMAMd-Ofd_ynb9SZSTE16SDGqa_4EOBS-2Q%3BFZ4BMAMdtPDd_yk5iPwCvrF7SDEQY7FEvGIQEw%3BFYAfMAMdRkDe_yktVxjbCbF7SDEhw5TWnvkMEw%3BFTiAMAMdRBTf_ylD0bRXzbB7SDGqDS63QaNAOg&mra=dpe&mrsp=1&sz=14&via=1,2&dirflg=w&sll=53.482428,-2.210913&sspn=0.02993,0.077162&ie=UTF8&ll=53.482428,-2.210913&spn=0.02993,0.077162&t=h&output=embed

Once I reached Failsworth, I decided to use the canal for the remainder of the journey, it had been dry for a few days so the path would be passable at least.
When I reached the Ship Inn near Hopwood Hall College, I was perplexed to see a barrier had been put in place and a sign which read “Towpath Closed.” Behind the barrier was a broken bollard which had presumably been put there to suppress cargo-bike use on the towpath. In a blatant disregard for the authority of the sign I proceeded to ride along the towpath anyway. When I arrived near to the tunnel under the M62 I saw another barrier and sign, having encountered nothing in the closed section which warranted closing it whatsoever. Maybe we should try this approach on the motorways too.
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Upon leaving Rochdale, I noticed that my lights weren’t working. Sadly this necessitated a train journey (although it was also starting to rain by then anyway). I assumed the problem was due to the shoddy job I had done extending the wire for the front lamp when I re-mounted it on the headset. When I returned home I decided to disassemble the front lamp and replace most of the wire, properly solder the connection between the two wires and use heat-shrink to protect the connection.
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The innards of the Lumotec Retro

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The original lamp wire was shortened and soldered to some fairly low-end speaker cable I had to hand

One interesting thing I discovered was that inside the B&M Lumotec Retro there is basically a complete standard B&M Lumotec lamp, attached by the same type of bracket which all of the B&M lamps I have seen use to attach to the various mounting options available. This suggests that it might be possible to house a better lamp such as a Lyt or a Cyo within the aesthetically-appropriate Retro shell at some point in the future.
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The guts of the Lumotec Retro are essentially just a complete standard Lumotec lamp

After faffing about with the wire, I discovered that the actual cause of the problem was that there was a layer of filth on the contacts of the dynamo hub itself, and that my initial shoddy wiring was in fact fine.
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The connections on the dynamo-hub after being cleaned with a screwdriver

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Gratuitous shot of the cat who my desire to visit set in motion the entire series of events

Thoughtless Obstruction

A Sainsbury’s delivery driver decided to park his van here, at the entrance to Whitworth Lane on Moseley Road. Whitworth Lane is closed to motor traffic but is well used by cyclists and pedestrians. The van was parked illegally on double yellow lines and on the pavement, blocking access to a side road and covering a dropped kerb.



Those familiar with the area may find it puzzling that someone living here in Owen’s Park halls of residence would want to get groceries delivered by Sainsbury’s. I feel that the level of contempt displayed by the driver for pedestrians, cyclists, pram users and wheelchair users reflects badly on J Sainsbury’s as a whole. I have emailed Sainsbury’s about this incident and I will post an update if and when they reply.