The Heaton Chapel Active Neighbourhood is coming into the final weeks of its three-month trial period and the benefits of speed reduction, safer streets for walking and cycling, and greater accessibility have been experienced by many residents of the area. Outdated and illegal barriers such …
Walk Ride GM says ‘no’ to Fallowfield loop plans – calls for investment in new east-west on-road route
Walk Ride GM response to the Fallowfield loop & Yellow Brick Road consultation The Fallowfield Loop / Yellow Brick Road is a peaceful, linear, traffic-free seven-mile green oasis that connects Chorlton, Fallowfield, Levenshulme, Reddish, Gorton and Openshaw, one of Manchester’s most useful active travel …
Words by Jack Hunter (Walk Ride Whalley Range)
Last week, Walk Ride Whalley Range supported two local primary schools to organise a school street for Clean Air Day. With permission from Manchester City Council (MCC), streets around each school were closed to traffic for drop-off and pick-up times (with exceptions made for residents, deliveries and emergency services).
It was great! Roads that are normally choking with car fumes were instead filled with smiling kids doing cartwheels, dancing, drawing on the tarmac and riding bikes and scooters. For a day, at least, the school run was no longer a nightmare but a vision of a better future.
Here’s a few reflections from the day, and some pointers for anyone wanting to do the same.
We took the initiative
A one-off school street needs a team of willing volunteers, along with consultation with residents and the school community. Even though the council will almost certainly be supportive, budget constraints means it’s still up to residents and schools to organise most of this – so we figured there’s no sense in waiting for someone else to sort it out – we just got on with it!
That’s not to say that our council wasn’t supportive – in fact the opposite is true. The local neighbourhood team at MCC made sure that the paperwork was approved as quickly as possible, and our councillors and officers even came out to man the closure points.
It was surprisingly easy to do…
Closing a school road can feel like a daunting task, but the reality is that, once you make the decision to do it, it’s actually very straightforward. Yes, it needs a bit of thinking about how best to manage traffic that will need to be diverted, and effective organisation to ensure that people and road signs are where they’re supposed to be, but nothing is too stressful.
And if you get stuck, there’s lots of information and advice online (see playingout.net, for example).
And everyone loves it…
From local residents, to the staff at each school, to the PTA, to kids and their families, there was a huge appetite for measures to improve air quality and road safety at either end of the school day. Sure, there might have been one or two individuals upset that their normal routine is disrupted but the overwhelming response was epitomised in the words of one parent:
“This is great – why can’t we do it every day?”
We’d suggest finding ways to capture the level of support – for example we took photos, spoke to parents and organised a simple survey of residents to gauge interest in more regular closures.
It was sad to go back to normal…
The day after, of course, the traffic was back to normal, the air was full of fumes, and children were forced to squeeze past cars parked across the pavement to get into school. It was clear evidence that one-off interventions on their own make little or no difference to the status quo. One resident said that, when she asked a driver to switch off their idling engine the day after the closure, she was told: “Why? It’s not Clean Air Day any more…”
…but we’re keeping the momentum
No-one wants a one-off, ad hoc approach to school safety. So we have a plan to keep up the momentum. We are already talking to one of the schools about holding another School Street event in July. And we’re working with the other school, who have already held several one-off school streets, to apply for permission for weekly closures.
All the time, we’re building trust and relationships between schools, residents, families and the council, which will make it easier to have conversations about more permanent changes, not just outside the school gate but across the entire neighbourhood.
And every step we take hopefully brings us closer to the vision of a healthy, happy and hazard-free journey to school for all of our children.
If you’d like to learn more about Walk Ride Whalley Range, please get in touch via email@example.com.
If you live elsewhere in Greater Manchester, check our list of local groups, and if there isn’t one where you live then get in touch with Walk Ride GM for support on how to go about finding people who also want to improve their streets and forming a Walk Ride subgroup together – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Boardman outlines his vision as new GM transport commissioner: ‘a network that enables me to choose it over driving’ and signals a change in pace and structure to deliver it
Chris Boardman has been appointed to an expanded role as Transport Commissioner for Greater Manchester. In his first detailed interview since taking on the role he answers eight key questions from Walk Ride supporters and shows he means business: His vision is for ‘a network …
MAYORAL HUSTINGS ON SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT, 22 APRIL 2021. Candidates from the four main parties were invited; Andy Burnham (Labour), Melanie Horrocks (Green) and Simon Lepori (Lib Dem) attended. (Laura Evans (Conservative) did not respond to invitations). We asked the three candidates 11 questions on behalf …
OUR STREETS CHORLTON SHORT-FORM FILM BRIEF
Our Streets Chorlton is a 12-month community-led project in south Manchester to understand how to help decrease carbon emissions by enabling Chorlton people to reduce local and short car journeys.
We are seeking a filmmaker / small production company to work with our project and community representatives on a series of short, shareable films designed to tell stories of change / inspire action.
Please submit responses by end of Thursday 29th April.
This piece of work would suit a self-shooting editor / videographer or small independent based in the Manchester area. We have a ‘local-first’ policy.
We’d like to create a series of films designed to be shared on digital media, that do a number /variety of things;-
- Inspire action
- Feature local people in local and community settings
- Help people see things differently
- Tell the story of the project as it develops
We’re looking for up to 10 films, of the 1-3 mins max duration.
Films would be shot in Chorlton featuring local people and in local settings.
Types of films
The project is focused on understanding the challenges and opportunities for reducing driving and we want films which provoke thought and emotion in relation to this topic. Types of films might include
- Case studies – local people sharing alternatives ways to do everyday tasks without a car eg shopping by bike, walking to school, using a car or lift share
- Project themes – we have three mini projects focused on a school, a high street and a residential street so films focused on these mini-projects or their broad themes of ‘shopping’, ‘school’, ‘home’
- Creative ideas – pieces that show things in a different light eg a relay challenge where a car a bike and a pedestrian get across Chorlton, showing differences in time, Co2, heart rate, mood etc
- ‘Project story’ film – using the footage shot along the way and some bespoke interviews with partners and local people, tell the story of the project in 3 minutes designed to be used near the tail end of the project when we have plenty of great stuff to say.
The exact brief for the films would be finalised with the filmmaker following a couple of creative/practical meetings that would allow you to understand more the overarching themes we are working on and the people we are working with, and hear your ideas in response to the project goals.
We would envisage the need for a couple of meetings – with the project and some community representatives – to allow that to happen, and for you to be able to work over a period of time with the project team to secure footage at appropriate opportunities and fully develop the creative ideas for each piece.
There may also be elements that can be worked on together with the project team eg extra mobile footage, and the project team can also assist with casting, scheduling filming opportunities as part of project activities & give location guidance.
To that end we feel this would suit someone who is local to Manchester and can spend short amounts of time with the project over a period, albeit to a fixed and realistic timescale to reflect the budget. But we are open to your suggestions on approach.
We want local people to be the lead characters in these stories, and their community spaces and places to be the backdrop.
We want to feature a diverse range of people and thought should also be given to working with children – to give voice to a group who are impacted a lot from the problem but are rarely given a vote in the solution.
£3k (final figure & deliverables subject to your response and our creative discussion).
Up to 10 short films, to include one ‘project story’ film.
Exact number and nature of films to be determined in creative discussion with filmmaker.
Permission notices for promotional use to be collected by filmmaker from subjects.
All raw assets to be delivered to the project.
Films to be delivered between June and Oct inclusive, subject to creative discussion, with project story film to be delivered by 31 Oct 2021.
DBS checked and policies for working with children. Sustainable practices policy including travel to locations.
Please tell us in no more than two A4 sides how you would respond to this brief
Within that please give us one short treatment for one film.
Your thoughts on how we can work across the project to maximise the budget available and your time and help make the most of footage and filming opportunities would be welcome.
Please also include at least two examples of your work (filming and editing, separate pieces for each if needs be).
Brief published: by Fri 16th April.
Deadline for your response: midnight Thurs 29th April.
Commission informed: Tuesday 4 May
Send response via email to our team at email@example.com and feel free to email in advance in the event of any queries.
For more about the project find us at
We believe that walking, cycling and public transport have a key role to play in tackling the challenges of post-pandemic recovery and our environmental crisis, and that this is a top priority in Greater Manchester’s May elections. We’ve teamed up with a range of other …
For March’s General Meeting, we invited more special guest speakers to provide updates on local campaigns, as well as tips and strategies from further afield. Opening up was Hannah Kettle, Zooming in from Leeds, where she is working for the charity Possible on the Car …
Words are important – particularly when trying to win hearts and minds. Many people regularly tell surveys they want healthier, safer movement through our streets, but sometimes encouraging those steps in reality requires the right choice of words that both demonstrate the universal benefits that can be possible and counter the bad faith arguments from naysayers. Here are a few of the linguistic approaches we’ve picked up from kindred campaigns…
Cyclists vs people on bikes
For whatever reason (take your pick from automobile lobbying to media click bait articles), in the UK context the word ‘cyclist’ conjures the imagery of a Belleville Rendezvous caricature of a MAMIL (Middle Aged Man In Lycra) that all too often provokes an ‘us and them’ mentality among otherwise rational people.
In Seattle, a pro-low-traffic neighbourhoods community group decided to take Portland, OR’s ‘neighbourhood greenways’ political rebranding exercise a step further, by peddling more people-friendly terms to regain the humanity of cycling. So, cyclists became ‘people on bikes’; similarly, drivers became ‘people driving’.
Accident vs crash
As tragically shown on our page, road traffic incidents continue to endanger people using active travel modes on our roads. There is a strong argument to say the fact that an average of 5 people every day are killed in collisions involving motor cars means we need radical change in our road culture, not least how they are managed and policed. Some police forces are better than others, and work is being done to bring police forces up to best practice standards – and this includes how these incidents are described by the police and media.
The party line is that they don’t want to prejudice any potential trial by adding emotive language. But there has to be a solution that doesn’t remove the agency from reporting, and instead helps to show these incidents for what they are: unacceptable.
The victim support charity Road Peace explains this well and has a ongoing campaign calling on the media and authorities to stop using the word ‘accident’, using its #crashnotaccident hashtag on social media.
Even the American Automobile Association has acknowledged that ‘crash’ should be used in place of ‘accident’, saying that crashes are drivers’ responsibility and not something that ‘just happens’.
So when will we see this implemented across our media and authorities?
Obesity vs inactivity
With almost daily mention being made of the “obesity epidemic” by one or another media outlet and/or politician, what better bandwagon for us active travel campaigners to jump on, right? Actually, wrong – for a number of reasons.
First, the categories of ‘normal weight’, ‘overweight’, ‘obese’ are based on a person’s BMI score, a crude measurement of no more than someone’s height-to-weight ratio that says very little about their general state of health or activity levels.
Second, even if BMI were an accurate measure of someone’s overall health (reminder: it isn’t), it is a divisive and discriminatory concept in the context of active travel advocacy. It risks our message being divided into: “thin people should travel actively because it’s fun, quick, green, and saves money. Non-thin people should travel actively because they need to get thin!” There are so many universal, inclusive benefits to active travel that we don’t need to join the cacophony of unkind voices telling folk in the higher BMI range that their bodies are wrong and we know how to fix them.
But third, even if it were the role of active travel advocacy to police people’s body shapes and sizes (reminder: it absolutely isn’t), what we advocate – in essence, replacing short car journeys with walking or cycling trips – is unlikely to move someone from the ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’ BMI range into the ‘normal’ range without additional, far-reaching lifestyle interventions that go way beyond the changes to urban infrastructure we campaign for.
And thus, it is not only more humane, it is also more accurate to talk about active travel as a means of tackling ‘inactivity’ as opposed to ‘obesity’. Embracing active travel may well not make you thin, but it will make you more active. And being more active is something we can positively advocate across all strata of society, irrespective of age, social background, and body shape. This blog post is a good starting point for a more detailed exploration of the manifold issues around this topic.
Road closures vs open streets
As we begin to see more and more active neighbourhoods across Greater Manchester, the access permissions of different transport modes to and through our streets are being changed. The default term for the modal filters, such as bollards or planters, that are used to transform rat runs into access-only streets is often ‘road closures’, or similar.
But the streets are open to everyone; even people using a vehicle. The difference is that through routes are only open to people using active, non-vehicular modes. Signage has been created by campaigners to reflect this (see below), and we can help to keep emphasising that streets are more open to people, including those who were previously disabled by the living environment.
Active travel vs ???
How should we describe the phenomenon for which we’re campaigning? ‘Active travel’ has attained default among those savvy with the lingo, in part because saying ‘walking and cycling’ doesn’t tick all the boxes (e.g. scooting, roller-skating, wheelchairing) and adding all the other specific modes into the phrase would be a bit of a mouthful. If you have any ideas, then please add them to the comments, below…
Words by Ian Pennington and Nick Hubble.
At the end of 2020 we published a survey asking people to tell us how they felt the plan was going to transform walking and cycling in our Greater Manchester region. More than 150 people replied. We’ve set out the headlines below (for the full …