Having taken the Fallowfield Loop many a time to get from South to East Manchester, I’ve become accustomed to the benefits and the pitfalls with it. Manchester faces criticism occasionally with the infrastructure in place for cycle commuters and those looking to get around the city, but with the announcement of Greater Manchester’s Beeline project, the likes of the Fallowfield Loop become the foundations of a perfect cycling city.
What is the Fallowfield Loop?
Formerly a railway line which had ten stops, the loop is now a pedestrian, cycle, and horse riding path that begins in Chorlton and wraps around to East Manchester’s canal system. It passes areas such as Fallowfield (shocker), Levenshulme and Gorton. The Fallowfield Loop is part of the National Cycling Network and built by Sustrans (thanks guys!). You’ll sometimes see these guys trying to raise money and tell you about the work they do – show your support and hear them out.
The path is relatively flat and for us cyclist’s is a convenient way to get around the edge of the city. Following the loop around to the East side of Manchester will also bring you to the canal path that leads up to the HSBC UK National Cycling Centre where you can try out the indoor velodrome or the huge indoor BMX arena.
If you’re heading West towards Chorlton, it’s also an ideal route heading towards the scenic Chorlton Water Park.
The problems with the Fallowfield Loop
The Fallowfield Loop is brilliant and the benefits need not to be outlined. It’s obvious – a traffic free cycle path surrounded by greenery and wildlife and generally a relaxing atmosphere. It’s unfortunate that a minority of Manchester’s wrong-uns often take the opportunity to steal bikes and put a few of us on edge.
Reported muggings on the pathway strikes fear in most of us. That’s why I personally only use the loop in daylight and during hours I know other cyclists and walkers will be using it. And you should to. During the winter season, mornings and early evening’s tend to be quite dark and whilst the roads may also be a tricky at times to navigate, they’re probably less nerve-racking then the loop.
I certainly don’t want to put you off using this great cycling infrastructure and incidents as mentioned are seriously rare occasions. Just be smart and wise when using the route.
There also tends to be a growing amount of litter on the route in the eastern part, foremost under the bridges. To ensure safety here, take it slow. In the summer time, using sunglasses can make it difficult to see what’s coming up under these low lying bridges, and the last thing you want to be doing is hitting a water bottle or the sort.
How fast can I cycle on the Fallowfield Loop?
The loop’s terrain and road quality significantly alters as you go along. The sections from Chorlton to near Levenshulme tend to be relatively smooth with the odd tree trunk root creating bumps. Towards the eastern canal paths, a fair amount of the path becomes uneven pave slabs. Getting your wheel court in the grooves on the fallowfield loop slabs can cause a skid, so be careful there.
There are also bollards placed across the loop to slow cyclists down and ensure safety of walkers and horses. Take these slowly – I’ve been caught out before and ended up riding the verge with a 10cm nail pierced in my tyre and inner tube (I really ought to go about getting some Gatorskins.)
What is the Beelines project?
The Beelines project aims to help connect every community within Manchester by means of 1,000 miles of walking and cycling infrastructure, along with 75 miles of segregated bike lanes. This is a huge step to transform the city and move it closer to the praised systems seen in the Netherlands.
You can see a map of the proposals by following this link.