James Doyle stands around for an hour to see what the fuss is all about. Jonathan Schofield has a go.

3 minute read

Avid cyclists and the general public of Greater Manchester might be aware of the cycle roundabout on Trafford Road, Salford, that has been dubbed as “the first of its kind in the country”, but what is its purpose and is it the great transport feature it’s claimed to be? 

This is all lycra-clad balderdash from the councillor

The cycle roundabout is part of the £22m improvements to Trafford Road. It operates in the same way a typical roundabout would, and it is designed to help cyclists and pedestrians, specifically those with visual impairment safely navigate a point where two cycle lanes meet. The council believes it is the safest possible solution.

The roundabout is part of the Trafford Road improvement scheme and the council is proud of it, celebrating its status as the first one in the country. Nobody else seems to be celebrating, only two cyclists passed through it in the space of an hour, as Confidentials.com dawdled there one day. The other and also new cycling lanes on Trafford Road were busier. However, when noticing the ambiguity of how to utilise the cycle lane, and the close proximity cyclists would find themselves in, it didn’t come as a surprise that the roundabout is being put to minimal usage. The cyclists that do use it seem to just cycle straight over rather than bothering to go around the roundabout.

Jonathan Schofield gives the roundabout a whirl on Instagram below. 

Harry Gray, 27, who runs the cycle group Walk Ride Central Salford provides some expert insight: “I think the execution on the roundabout wasn’t optimal, I think it has been over-engineered because the whole scheme has had cycle lanes segregated from pedestrians, they felt like they had to get that section separate as well, but personally I think a shared space would’ve been more beneficial for both.”

Harry continues: “They have tried to cram it into a small space, which is a bit of a worry for me, and I think people aren’t really using it properly. This is because it’s confusing which is another concern.

“Even though there are Highway Code rules, no cyclist has to pass a test to ride a bike, so the roundabout needs to be intuitive to how a cyclist thinks and not how a car driver would think, because a lot of cyclists don’t drive, meaning they won’t know how a roundabout works, which means it can be misused and dangerous. 

Harry sighs and says: “It’s just a bit more complicated than it should’ve been, they could’ve just done it as a crossroads, or a shared use passage.”

Although there has been online hysteria about the roundabout and the Trafford Road scheme as a whole, the general cycle path leading up to the junction is extremely clear and gives cyclists a chance to navigate towards business hubs at MediaCity and Chapel Street.

Harry expanded on this: “Salford is one of the best cities for cycling. I’ve noticed a big uptake in cycling so it is important that cycling and walking options are good. The roundabout is just a small blip in what is generally a really good scheme.”

The Magic Roundabout To Nowhere 2
The magic, tragic, pointless roundabout in Salford Image: Confidential

Salford Councillor Mike McCusker is reported as having said: "This is possibly the first roundabout of its kind in the country, so it is certainly creating debate and we have had a lot of positive feedback. The roundabout allows pedestrians to cross the junction safely in two short moves so they only have to be aware of one lane of cycle traffic at a time. It provides a quicker crossing for them and is safer than trying to cross a wider junction with traffic from both directions.

"It has been designed to accommodate people on foot or in wheelchairs or pushing buggies. Cyclists circulate round it like a ‘normal’ road roundabout so they, too, can get round this junction safely without putting pedestrians in danger."

As Jonathan Schofield’s video shows this is all lycra-clad balderdash from the councillor. The roundabout is overly complicated, over-thought and practically useless. Still, despite the inevitable reaction to this silly addition to Greater Manchester cycling the rest of the recent works make cycling easy and are clear to use. One very odd roundabout doesn’t change that.

Read next: Looking for 'authentic': The politics of Council Leader Bev Craig

Read again: £58k for single coned-off A56 consultation on Bridgewater Way/Chester Road. Just one. Why?

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