20th May 2013
by Ian Tate
Cycling is an increasingly popular means of getting about the city and suburbs, and the Heatons is no exception. Heaton Moor and Heaton Chapel offer easy cycling terrain, whilst Heaton Norris and Heaton Mersey have some steep hills down to the green spaces of the Mersey valley. These pages briefly describe the environment for cycling in the area, on and off-road, and introduce links to organisations promoting activities and maintaining facilities for cycling.
The roads and streets of the area present both the pleasures and some of the challenges of cycling around suburban Britain. The main Manchester-Stockport highways (A6 Wellington Road, Didsbury Rd, Manchester Rd) are very busy throughout much of the day and cyclists need to have the confidence to negotiate space with large vehicles. The bus lanes along the A6 Wellington Road may be used by cyclists but be especially aware that they are used by general traffic outside the specified operation times. Other on-road cycle lanes, e.g. along Didsbury Road, are “advisory” (marked by a dotted white line) and may be legally occupied by parked vehicles. If you choose to use the available sections of these cycle lanes (which are sometimes limited) particular care is needed when negotiating the parked vehicles.
Other routes linking these roads, such as Heaton Moor Road, Mauldeth Road and Belmont Way, can also be busy and space for cycling is limited, but away from these roads the Heatons has an extensive network of quiet and very pleasant residential streets which are ideal for cycling. Do take care and be patient when you need to cross the busier roads.
The area cycling map (Map 7 – Stockport) published by Transport for Greater Manchester www.tfgm.com/cycling is an excellent guide and much pleasure can be found discovering your own “quiet route” – and gaining new knowledge of your neighbourhood!
Two longer traffic-free cycle trails pass through or close by the Heatons, giving easy access to local recreational and wildlife areas such as the Mersey Valley, Mersey Vale Nature Reserve and Highfield Country Park.
The Stockport section of the Trans-Pennine Trail (TPT – Route 62)
www.transpenninetrail.org.uk follows the river bank through Heaton Mersey to Stockport town centre; there are several link paths to the TPT (See cycle map 7 – Stockport). As a multi-user trail for walking, cycling and horse riding the rolled grit stone surface can become muddy after heavy or prolonged rain; an alternative on-road TPT route (Route 55 on the cycle map) connects Parrs Wood with Lancashire Hill via Craig Road and Heaton Norris. This all-weather route does include some steep hills.
To the North West of the area the Manchester Cycleway or Fallowfield Loop www.fallowfieldloop.org passes close to Heaton Chapel, accessed by the off-road cycle path alongside Erwood Road from Green End, and from Highfield Country Park/Nelstrop Road North. The cycleway is an extensive and attractive urban trail along the former Great Central loop railway from Chorlton to Fairfield; the excellent all-weather surface is mostly tarmacked and the trail is well signed.
Other shorter sections of traffic-free route are also available; these are shown on the TfGM cycle map. On all of these routes take care to give way to pedestrians (and watch out for dogs!); always let them know when you wish to pass (a bell is advisable).
An engineering pioneer
Heaton Mersey has an important place in the history of cycling as the adopted residence of the Swiss engineer, Hans Renold. In 1880 Renold patented the durable “bush roller chain” and made possible the mass production of the Safety Bicycle (superseding the Ordinary, or “Penny Farthing”). The Renold precision chain was a key component in British cycle manufacture for much of the Twentieth century. In 1906 he began building his large industrial chain factory (now Tesco) in Burnage and took residence at Priestnall Hey – now the grassed area to the West of Priestnall Leisure Centre (alongside the Mersey Road pathway) in Heaton Mersey.
Cycle clubs and groups
If you would like to contribute to the development of cycling in the area there are many organisations welcoming of your support.
Stockport Cycle User Group www.stockport.gov.uk.cycling meets regularly at the Town Hall to discuss Council related cycle issues such as cycle lanes and cycle parking. The Greater Manchester Cycle Campaign www.gmcc.org and Love Your Bike www.loveyourbike.org (coordinated from Manchester Friends of the Earth) are both very active in promoting cycling and have a busy calendar of fun and dynamic events.
Several groups organise rides for individuals and families, including Stockport Community Cycle Club (www.sccc.co.uk) and the South Manchester Section of the Cyclists’ Touring Club www.smctc.org.uk ;GMCC also hold social rides, and Love Your Bike host monthly “Bike Friday” www.bikefriday.org to demonstrate morning commuter rides into Manchester and to meet other commuting cyclists. A “Bike Friday” ride from Stockport to Manchester will commence this spring.
Sustainable Living in the Heatons has included cycle activities in their events, including the very popular family rides from the Summer Fair at Heaton Moor Park. More rides will be held this year; follow this website for updates and details.
Whether you are researching routes to work or family rides from the Heatons, cycle training opportunities or local bike shops, you will find plenty of up-to-date advice and support from the links to these groups and organisations.
Remember, when you choose to cycle you are not only saving yourself money; you are making a significant contribution to an environmentally sustainable future.
Together we can:
- reduce the number of motor vehicles and cut the need for damaging new roads
- reduce levels of ill-health and associated financial costs caused by inactivity and air pollution
- allow more inclusive and closer communities in which individuals of all ages feel able to move around their neighbourhood freely and safely.
All of these benefits have long been enjoyed in countries and cities with higher levels of cycle use (to give just one example, 36% of journeys to work and study in Copenhagen are by bicycle, compared to fewer than 3% in Manchester). We also can enjoy the same quality of life – for all in our communities, if we follow the best examples!
Do share with us your experiences of cycling around the Heatons – and happy, safe cycling.
www.manchester.gov.uk.cycling Manchester cycling/cycle forum pages
www.nationalcyclecentre.com Manchester Velodrome
www.bikeright.co.uk Cycle training opportunities for children and adults