Like thousands of people Manchester Road forms part of my journey to and from work. Every morning and evening I travel down it on the bus and I just don't really think about it. It is a big road into the city and it does its job in getting people in and out of it. This evening I got off the bus at the junction with Mayo Avenue and Smiddles Lane, or Mayo and Smiddles if we're being a bit American, but that sounds like a really bad name for a pair of cats. I got off the bus with objective of walking to Lidl, which I did.
Walking down to Lidl I really noticed the mishmash of mainly low density buildings, that don't really relate to the road at all. The road does have shops, banks and takeaways on the west side of it, which indicate that the road has some community role rather than severing communities, but other than that it is largely a big bleak blank bland road which doesn't form a good welcome to the city. There are landmarks, like the new walking and cycling bridge. Whilst the bridge forms an important part of the local walking and cycling network, I can't help but feel it reinforces the separation between the pedestrian and motorvehicle, as do the many railings (as seen below). The road was designed as an urban motorway, but in reality is a road cutting through densely populated neighbourhoods with a speed limit of 30 mph.
In the next thirty years, there could be many opportunities to improve this road. The vacant sites and low density development could be replaced by high density development that better encloses the road. The redevelopment of the Odsal Top area to make more efficient use of the space currently occupied by the Richard Dunn centre, redevelop the stadium and remove the roundabout and its piss-soaked subways is another. Replacing the disjointed guided busway with an urban rail system that can connect South Bradford better to the rest of the West Yorkshire conurbation and linking the whole road together with greenspace and trees, so it doesn't look so damn bleak. The Aspire development seeks to introduce some development fronting on to the street, which is a welcome start. The below picture of Avinguda Diagonal in Barcelona is the kind of grand urban boulevard we could learn from, with the typical weather too.
Making better use of Manchester Road could accommodate a lot of the development needed in Bradford over the next few decades. These thoughts emerged as I walked towards a single-storey shed set back from the road. We can do better!