Pedestrians, cyclists, bus passengers and drivers will have new priorities from Sunday (20 November), when changes are made for traffic using Manchester’s Oxford Street.
The road, fronted by the Palace Theatre, will become two-way between Portland Street and Whitworth Street to allow local access, while a new ‘bus gate’ and other junction changes will be introduced to make it more bus, bike and pedestrian-friendly.
The changes are part of Transport for Greater Manchester’s bus priority package, the biggest investment in Greater Manchester’s bus network in decades.
The scheme has already seen the introduction of the North West’s first guided busway, Manchester’s first bus gates, priority measures along the East Lancs Road and significant changes to Portland Street, Princess Street and Oxford Road.
The Oxford Road corridor, including Oxford Street, is the final piece in the scheme’s jigsaw, marking the culmination of more than four years’ work when it’s completed in early 2017.
The investment will deliver faster bus journeys and ensure services are more punctual and reliable, while improvements to cycling facilities will make it easier and safer for more people to ride along this popular route, especially as it connects with other cycling improvements on Wilmslow Road.
From Sunday, Oxford Street will become two-way to allow local access between Portland Street and Whitworth Street as a new bus gate is introduced.
The bus gate, starting at Whitworth Street will prohibit general traffic from using that route to get into the city centre between 6am and 9pm. Buses, bikes and hackney carriages will be prioritised, with all other traffic having a compulsory left turn into Whitworth Street West.
Bus gates are new for Greater Manchester – there has been one on Portland Street since March, and another lower down the Oxford Road corridor at Hathersage Road since June – and are used to restrict general traffic access beyond a single point in the road so buses can operate more efficiently and punctually beyond them.
For pedestrians and cyclists, bus gates create a better, safer environment and space for moving about as traffic volumes drop significantly. Recent figures showed that the Oxford Road bus gate has seen traffic heading into the city drop by 95%, from 5,000 cars a day to around 250
Additional signage, road markings and bollards will be put in place on Oxford Street from Sunday to help drivers – and pedestrians and cyclists – adapt to the changes. TfGM has also produced a detailed map of the changes which will help drivers better understand what’s different.
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: “The transformation of the Oxford Road corridor is really taking shape now as we get closer to completion.There are lots of changes for us all to get used to but the end result will benefit everyone.We’ve seen already the dramatic transformation of Oxford Road, with new Dutch-style bike lanes and a huge reduction in general traffic.”