Monday, 10 December 2012

Oh Manchester (Road), so much to answer for

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.
Bus Lane
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.
Avinguda Diagonal | Nieve en Barcelona
 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!
Lidl Bradford

3 comments:

  1. When I first came to Bradford 13 years ago Manchester road was my first view of the city. It didn't inspire any great happiness in my new home. Not much has changed...

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  2. I've lived in BD5 all my life. Used to live on the Little Horton side, now I live in West Bowling. Further, I went to school at Dixons. As well as walking up or down Manchester Road pretty much ever day it has always been an important landmark. The many walks up to Odsal for a fortnightly trek to the Bulls, sipping out of school (Priestman Middle) at lunch time to go to Kal's Chippy or sneaking down to the closest spot to my house (a chip shop that no longer exists down near town) that had a Street Fighter 2 arcade machine.
    I'm afraid that I don't think any of the changes you propose would change any of the inherent qualities of such a road for the local residents or for passers through. It is a landmark, it orders your social circle, separates the two sides of BD5 and connects Bradford South, not to mention the 606.
    I remember the development that put in the bus route. It made a huge difference and works really well. I see little fiscal sense in ripping it out for a train system that seems unnecessary. Bradford South is well connected to the centre through various extremely regular bus routes going up and down Manchester Road, Little Horton Lane and Great Horton Road so not sure a rail link would be required for this either.
    I like that you brought up the shops and takeaways, as they add a great deal of character and just as you propose, they satisfy a community need. 'Cut Above' was my barbers for a large chunk of my young life, I've already mentioned Kal's Chippy and should also mention the indoor skate ramps (near the Red Lion). Further, not only nostalgic, the DIY shop is a perfect local DIY shop that will stock anything you require without having to treck/drive to the behemoth of B&Q.
    Replacing the roundabout with the big junction near Morrissons was a great move, and the Kraven Heifer stands proud, as does West Bowling Rec on the other side.
    I don't mean to pick apart your points, or fault your desire to improve the city, but think when resources are finite (as they always are) there are many other things that could do with funding, than a perfectly functional dual carriageway.
    Mike McKenny - @DestroyApathy

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