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With hundreds of millions of pounds being put into improving cycling infrastructure in Manchester, one of Britain’s best and most beloved cities is becoming an increasingly bike-friendly region.
So, just what is it like to go cycling through the city, and how safe and simple is it to get around on your bike?
Manchester Cycling Statistics
Most big, busy UK cities can be a cyclist’s nightmare due to the lack of accessibility and pleasant cycle paths, but Manchester is certainly a cut above the rest in that regard.
Take the study published by Toothpick showing the percentage of people in each UK city who cycle at least once a week, for any amount of time. Manchester earned a highly commendable mark of 7.4/10, based on annual survey data from the Department for Transport.
This was not solely based on how healthy people are in Manchester, but also how easy it is to cycle – whether there are enough safe cycle paths, how much traffic there is, and so on.
And, as mentioned earlier, its improvements are in no small part down to the amount of investment being set aside for this; in March, for example, it was announced that almost £140 million will be spent on cycling and walking projects in Greater Manchester.
It is a far cry from merely a few years ago, when the city with synonymous with roadworks, one-way systems and collisions.
Cycle Paths in Manchester
This Ordnance Survey map shows you the best cycling routes in Manchester lasting no more than two hours or extending longer than 40 kilometres:
As you can see, there a fair amount of good cycles in the city centre, such as the two-hour ride to Lymm from DSSR, or the 109-minute long Fallowfield Loop.
Further away from the main hub of the city, there are plenty of choices, such as the 23.5 km ride from Dunham Massey to Marbury, or a journey of similar distance from Alderley Edge to Mobberley.
And as well as its most popular cycle paths, such as Rochdale Canal Cycle route, the Manchester Airport Orbital Cycleway or the jaunt from the city centre to the airport, there is plenty more to come soon, too.
It July 2018, former Olympic cyclist and current Cycling and Walking Commissioner for Greater Manchester, Chris Boardman, revealed his plans for the city’s ‘Bee Network’, comprising 15 new routes all over the city.
The total length of the network will clock in at about 1,800 miles, which will see Manchester employ the sort of cycle lanes that are most prominent in Holland.
Manchester Bike Hire
Hiring bikes is also becoming easier in Manchester thanks to their ambitious new ventures.
In March, plans were revealed which would see the city boast the country’s biggest cycle-hire project – similar to London’s with ‘Boris Bikes’ scheme – which will also ease congestion on the roads.
For now, though, you can use Piccadilly train station’s Brompton Bike Hire Manchester facility – the city became the first to have one of these in 2012.
There are a number of other providers based in Manchester, too, such as Bike & Go, which charge from £3.80 for a day of cycling, Brompton Dock, which offers folding bikes, Manchester Bike Hire, which will deliver and collect the bicycles, cargo bikes or electric bikes to and from your home, and Velo Times, which offers family bike hire and repairs.
But bike-sharing company Mobike is gone no more in Manchester, having cut ties with the city in September 2018 due to theft and vandalism issues.
Bike Shops in Manchester
As well as your standard bigger-brand stores in Manchester, the city is also home to some great bike shops which will satisfy your every need, whether it be a new bike, new gear or simply a bike service.
Harry Hall Cycles, found right in the heart of the city, sells all sorts of models, be it a mountain, road or electric bike you’re after, as well as a variety of cycling attire and gear. Their friendly, helpful service will no doubt lead you to the ideal bicycle for you.
Keep Pedalling, a small independent bike shop in the city’s Northern Quarter region, meanwhile, offers bikes, accessories and services, and is a definite recommendation if you are in the market in commuter and off-road racer models.
And in Chorlton, you will find Ken Foster’s Cycle Logic, which again offers a range of components and accessories as well as road, leisure, mountain, electric bikes and many more. As well as their great variety of products, they sell all-weather cycle clothing and also offer you services on your bike.
Don’t forget to also visit Bikesoup.com, though, as this is a superb website for buying and selling old bicycles, with more than 2,000 currently on their market.
In terms of bike services and repairs, though, your best bet is probably Popup Bikes near Victoria station, which offers cheap parking, freshly-produced coffee and a same-day repair guarantee.
Where To Lock Your Bike in Manchester
As alluded to before with the issues with Mobike, Manchester can, like many other major city, have its issues with thieves, with about 2,500 bikes reported as stolen in 2018.
With that in mind, as great a place as it can be to cycle in, it’s crucial to keep your bike safe when not riding it.
If you’re a student or member of staff at the University of Manchester, for instance, you are entitled to a unique serial number for your bike which will be stored on a database, and gold standard ‘D’ lock for £15 to try and reduce the number of thefts on campus.
Otherwise, the city is full of Cycle Hubs which, charging £10 for an annual membership fee, entitle you to secure parking on a first-come, first-served basis, such as City Tower or MediaCityUK.
So, that’s Manchester; if you can cope with the inexplicable amount of rain, then it’s a pretty fun place to take the bike out.
And with plenty more in the pipeline, it’s only going to get even better.
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