Last updated 7 May 2020
Council helps to launch #SafeStreetsSaveLives campaign to support social distancing during coronavirus lockdown and recovery
GM leaders progress bold active travel plans as up to £5m of emergency funding made available as part of coronavirus recovery
Greater Manchester’s council leaders have committed to creating enhanced shared spaces for pedestrians and people on bikes across the city-region, to enable people to keep their distance for safe essential journeys and exercise during the coronavirus lockdown and through recovery.
Brought together under the Safe Streets Save Lives campaign, local authorities are looking to prioritise a range of temporary, pop-up measures such as footway extensions, one-way streets, removing through traffic on certain roads, adding extra cycle lanes and removing street ‘clutter’ like pedestrian guard rail at pinch points.
The emergency changes will be matched to help ease social distancing at specific locations such as areas outside shops, transport hubs or routes to hospitals in the districts, with £5m of funding made available through the Mayor’s Cycling and Walking Challenge Fund.
Whilst there has been a dramatic fall in traffic volumes of about 60% across Greater Manchester, walking and cycling have played an increasingly important role. They now account for approximately 33% of all journeys, with cycling up 22% compared to pre-lockdown data. These trends have also led to congestion almost being eliminated and significant drop in pollution.
By encouraging the use of sustainable modes of transport, Greater Manchester is looking to Build Back Better as part of its recovery plans while supporting the ambition to be carbon neutral by 2038 and honour its commitment to become a walking and cycling city-region.
Key to this is providing people with safe and direct routes around their local area by fast tracking the approval of side road zebras, as part of the emergency response.
Greater Manchester was part way through a study with evidence showing that 93% of road users recognised side road Zebra markings that are currently used across the world. The Mayor Andy Burnham has written to the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, asking him to enable local highway authorities to utilise these measures immediately.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Greater Manchester has been leading the way with our plans to build the largest walking and cycling network in the UK. A number of cities around the world have begun implementing measures to enable safe essential travel and exercise during lockdown. As part of our efforts to Build Back Better in Greater Manchester, we’re taking the same, bold approach - Safe Streets really do Save Lives.
“Peoples’ travel behaviour across our city region has transformed during lockdown. As more people turn to walking and cycling, we want that to continue as we move into life beyond lockdown. That’s why we’ve proposed measures, backed by up to £5m of funding, to create space which allows people to continue making safe, sustainable journeys.
“Whatever peoples’ motivation - these choices are contributing to cleaning up our city’s air and causing less congestion on our roads, and that’s something we must sustain for the immediate future.”
Chris Boardman, Cycling and Walking Commissioner for Greater Manchester, said: “Like any successful response to a crisis, people must be the priority. And fortunately, the data is unambiguous; during lockdown more and more residents across Greater Manchester are turning to walking and cycling for essential journeys and exercise. So, in order give people the space they need to keep safe, the only real question was ‘how soon can we act?’
“If we don’t take steps to enable people to keep travelling actively, we risk a huge spike in car use as measures are eased. Not only is it the right thing to do to protect people now, but it’s vital to meet our clean air goals and protect our NHS long term.”
Cllr David Meller, Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way people are using streets, with many more now walking, cycling or jogging, either as a form of exercise or to get to work.
"Stockport is passionate about walking and cycling and we have a real opportunity to make our roads safer not just for this unprecedented period, but for the future as well.
“We have been speaking to our walking and cycling groups across the borough to get their thoughts on what we can do. We will continue to work with them and all our partners to ensure we protect our residents when they are on our roads and pavements.”
Local authorities have prioritised schemes that sit within the Mayor’s Cycling and Walking Challenge Fund and can be used as coronavirus response measures, with Transport for Greater Manchester providing support to help design and implement the measures across the districts.
Once approved, a list of the Safe Streets Save Lives schemes will be listed on TfGM’s website with further information available via the local authorities.
Immediate/recovery measures in Stockport:
• Where applicable, street audits to identify pavement pinch points focussing on centres, shopping streets and park entrances. Also, where applicable, focus on removing street clutter, parking suspension and reduction in carriageway width
• Where applicable, review existing ‘quiet lanes’ to make one-way and in later identify new ‘quiet lanes’
• Where possible, bus lane time extensions to support public transport and cycling
• Where achievable, complete existing advanced schemes
Accelerating planned Bee Network schemes:
• Where possible, MCF scheme acceleration by speeding up approval process
• Active neighbourhoods scheme potential to be on site next spring (2021)
More information about Stockport's proposed walking and cycling schemes can be found here.