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Walk Ride GM says ‘no’ to Fallowfield loop plans – calls for investment in new east-west on-road route

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 

Review: Healthy, Happy, Hazard-Free School Streets in Whalley Range

Review: Healthy, Happy, Hazard-Free School Streets in Whalley Range

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 

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 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 that would make him choose it over driving’
  • A restructure ‘almost certainly’ coming, to deliver the integrated network
  • New Bee Network delivery board -featuring two GM council leaders
  • Will be calling on ‘influential allies’ to help secure Government funding
  • Says road danger has been his biggest failing to date and vows to tackle it including pushing for ‘meaningful consequences for dangerous and intimidating behaviour’
  • Also agrees pavement parking must be tackled – but transition needed as people have got used to using public space this way
  • Says will not fund things that does not meet guidelines and has written to councils reminding them of risks of not delivering 
  • Says if access barriers have to be used – must be a 1.5m gap and his preference is for bollards
  • Says WRGM’s biggest role is building support and consensus with local councillors

You watch the video Chris recorded for Walk Ride GM here, or read the transcript below.

Q1. Congratulations on being appointed Transport Commissioner last month – can you tell us your top three priorities in this expanded role?
A:

I’m an advisor to the mayor with a much expanded brief; trams, trains and active travel – everything people need to not have to drive. 

I’m going to be the person across the details on these modes, to give the mayor considered advice on how best to deliver the Bee Network – and he will take the decisions he chooses. 

I {also} co-ordinate Active Travel on his behalf – everything from discussions with stakeholders, such as yourselves, from councillors to government. 

We’ve now set up his weekly Bee Network delivery board – so he can stay across everything in real time. It’s been a frantic few weeks putting everything in place – a huge learning curve for me personally … and I’m choosing to tackle this very complex world in a simplistic way.

I start with the overriding question – ‘what would I need from this network for me to choose it over driving?’ because ultimately that is what this mission is, and if it doesn’t make me change, it doesn’t work; so super complex and super simple at same time.

As for top three priorities I’ll give you four –

  1. Define what this network must be to ensure it is successful – success being defined as being able to choose it over driving
  2. Ensure the definition of that network is shared by all the districts {10 councils}
  3. Clarify and agree the priority actions to deliver the network – because it won’t be easy 
  4. Bring it all together to get long-term government support to actually get it done

So that’s my work package for the next four months; lots of big scary stuff but also incredibly exciting –  setting up for a genuine recovery, a post Covid world that is sustainable going forward, both ecologically and financially.

Q2. Delivering an integrated transport system presumably needs a different structure to the one we currently have – what changes do you foresee?
A:

By definition this has to be cross border, GM wide, shared, co-ordinated, {the} whole mission has got to be collective. 

Andy has been re-elected so the challenges involved with delivering a successful network are now being addressed {as we} could not do it until he was in post and that’s why he has asked me to set up the Bee Network Board, which at moment consists of myself, the mayor and two leaders, with officers advising us very closely.

So there is really good political oversight of the mission, which is all very new for the city region.

To meet Government’s need, and deliver fast enough to meet climate commitments as well as lots of commitments in other GM strategies that depend on this network being successful, we are almost certainly going to require a different way of working.

Just a few weeks in now, all I can tell you is that those discussions have started.

Q3. When can we expect to see Bee Network branding on the streets – and what’s your take on using it for the whole transport network as Andy Burnham pledged in his manifesto? (and was that your idea??)
A:

It was Andy’s idea to be clear – and I was slightly surprised by it, and I think it’s a really good thing!

Branding on streets {will be there} very soon, in the next few months. 

Branding work is happening right now to ensure that what we do for Active Travel, which got here first, meshes with other elements of the network – specifically buses as they come online.

But active travel, wayfinding and bike hire are almost certainly going to be the first branding that appears – watch this space.

{But} make no mistake Active Travel is the very foundation of the bigger mission – it has to be the first step out of the door otherwise that first step will lead to the car – and nothing after that {decision} matters.

We haven’t solved the branding hierarchy – we have just started that now Andy has flatteringly adopted the Bee Network brand – but we are on it – and Active Travel is going to be a major stakeholder as that develops.

Q4. We know you and the teams are stepping up the pace in 2021 – the year of delivery as you have dubbed it – but we have had multiple questions from people who feel walking and cycling schemes continue to take too long in their neighbourhood and meanwhile roads get busier and more dangerous. What more can be done about this – and how can Walk Ride groups help speed things up?
A:

My role is to co-ordinate and advise of ways around problems but I cannot direct – nor should I.

TfGM can only implement, or help implement, the wishes of each council.

So I’m being repetitive – but as the system is right now, local councillors are absolutely key to speed and ambition – they are the ones who need to know how the public feel and what they want.

And also the ones who should get lots of visible credit for taking brave steps because this isn’t easy for them, and it’s important to recognise that.

For me that should be your focus – getting that message to those people and helping those people – help find solutions for them and keep it high on their agenda.

Another thing likely to change in the next few months is the targeting of overall transport funding settlements from the Government.

Walking, buses and bikes are the key modes to tackle transport emissions and climate change – and to deliver the Gear Change and Bus Back Better policies – which are sensational by the way – so we have some  very influential Active Travel allies in the highest places…

Q5. We are hearing the Government may pull back from a London-style pavement parking ban and leave it to councils – would you get behind a GM wide ban on pavement parking given what a deterrent this is to smooth and safe use of the footways – but also the message it sends about cars having priority over other users?
A:

GM can do this if it wants right now, via traffic regulation orders, and in fact in our response {to the Pavement Parking consultation} we made clear it is our priority to tackle the Bee Network first ..

The double buggy test for walking means pavements need to be clear of parked vehicles, or it does not pass the test – so yes I would get behind measures to get pavement parking under control.

The only area I’ll be happy to compromise on – is the transition. 

People have built their lives around how they have been allowed to use public space – understandably, so they should be helped and given time to adjust.

But to be clear this is about sympathetic implementation not dodging the problem; it’s about making that change in a pragmatic way.

Q6. Road deaths, serious injuries and incidents continue to rise. What’s your plan for how to work with police and curb the dangerous behaviors that deter people from travelling actively in the first place, supressing demand?
A:

The mayor has made a commitment to publish a road danger action plan – not a strategy – an action plan – and I’ve had some really positive meetings about this already.

This isn’t just about policing – which is part of the problem – no one organisation owns this plan – but the mayor via his Bee Network board will pull this together. 

It’s on the agenda literally now, and is the single most important thing for Active Travel and has frankly been my biggest failure in the last three years, and I intend to rectify that if I possibly can.

We’ll {also} take it up at national level too to push for meaningful consequences for dangerous and intimidating behaviour.

Q7. You’ve been very clear there will be/are strict quality control for Bee Network schemes. Why are councils still installing inaccessible infrastructure that disregards both LTN 1/20 {the Government’s guidelines} and Bee Network design standards? 
A:

Access control barriers are allowed in government guidance as long as they leave a 1.5m gap. 

To be clear I don’t like chicane barriers and will recommend they are not used, I prefer bollards if any access control has to be used – so paths are accessible to all and measures are then just visually more appealing.

Everyone has agreed in the standards adopted by the GM Combined Authority to not fund anything that doesn’t meet our, and now Government’s standards, and that is within my gift as commissioner.

But I will not, and can’t really, refuse to fund things that meet the guidance – if only just.

{Having said that} I’m not happy with some infrastructure meeting the letter and not the spirit of the agreed guidance – and so I will be writing to all councils to remind them of the commitments they made to doing this and the risk of future funding and reputation with Department for Transport and Active Travel England for not adhering to LTN1/20. 

Q8. Many communities and grassroots groups are willing and able to gather thoughts and develop plans for improving walking and cycling –  how do we get councils to engage with communities to get these ideas into plans and then delivered?
A:

Gather numbers – as you are.

Discuss with individual councillors, understand their problems and try to help them find solutions. 

Lobby them to take the views of residents forward – ask them to speak to, and get support from, fellow councillors.

Essentially – build consensus.

The collective Covid experience {plus} climate change – {means} the landscape is changing really fast – GM are about three to four years ahead of the game on this and as a consequence this region is more ready than most for the pressures that are coming from above to change at pace.

This next mayoral term is going to be a rollercoaster I think – and not everybody likes roller coasters…

\So watch this space, there’s certainly going to be plenty of news coming forward and thanks for your passion and commitment.

Your questions answered: Mayoral candidates on how they would make region cleaner, greener, safer

Your questions answered: Mayoral candidates on how they would make region cleaner, greener, safer

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 

SHORT-FORM FILM / VIDEOGRAPHERS WANTED FOR COMMUNITY COMMISSION

SHORT-FORM FILM / VIDEOGRAPHERS WANTED FOR COMMUNITY COMMISSION

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.   Opportunity We are seeking a filmmaker / small 

Cleaner, Greener, Safer, Fairer: 10 ways for Greater Manchester’s new mayor to transform travel

Cleaner, Greener, Safer, Fairer: 10 ways for Greater Manchester’s new mayor to transform travel

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 organisations* to create a manifesto for what the new mayor needs to do to create a greener, cleaner, safer, fairer, way for people to move about the region.

We are also holding a joint hustings on sustainable transport on Thursday 22 April, 5.30pm. You can sign up here, and ask questions in advance here (deadline Saturday 17th April).

(Please note the new time of 5.30pm: the event was originally advertised as 6.30pm but has been moved earlier at a candidate’s request with agreement of the other candidates).

 

*organisations in the coalition who worked on this include Living Streets, Friends of the Earth, Unison Manchester, Ramblers, Action Vision Zero, Vision Zero Youth Council and Cycling UK.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 

 

 

SAFER FAIRER GREENER CLEANER

A manifesto for getting about in Greater Manchester

10 WAYS FOR GM TO MOVE FROM A TO B – by 2030

 

1. Enable journeys without cars

Make our communities places where cars are optional and walking, cycling and public transport is easy, safe & enjoyable. Take an Active Neighbourhood approach in every community immediately by embedding in planning & housing policies. Commit to 75% of all short journeys (2km or less) and 50% of 2-5km trips to be walked or cycled by 2025, and further develop monitoring to report progress.

 

2. Clean air & green space

Introduce low-emission zones, reduce parking & reallocate space to people, ban engine idling, increase controlled parking & prepare for road pricing. Set annual targets for reducing vehicle trips. In urban centres, end through traffic (access/disabled drivers only) & bring in workplace parking levies. Shift to e-van and e-bike deliveries and pilot an e-cargo hub by 2025. Create more public green space, green streets & active corridors.

 

3. Give children a choice

Create a schools fund to pay for a programme of permanent ‘school streets’ & related improvements, including funding for walking & cycling behaviour change initiatives and community-led training, events, bikes and storage – to enable pupils to walk, cycle, or wheel safely to school at 1000+ primary & 250+ secondary schools by 2025.

 

4. Make it easy to walk and cycle

Fully fund , expand & implement the Bee Network so people don’t have to drive short trips. Commit to 2000+ miles of high-quality walking & cycling infrastructure by 2030, with annual targets for each borough that meet accessible standards. Create a neighbourhood cycle storage fund. Remove all inaccessible barriers and guard rails.

 

 

5. Take a people first approach

Implement policies which put pedestrians & disabled people at the top of the hierarchy of users e.g. count people not vehicles, and optimise design for them. Implement a crossings audit and upgrade plan, make signal crossings single stage & minimise waiting, roll out side-road crossings. Stop pavement parking & clutter. Develop Rights of Way improvement plan.

 

 

6. Zero deaths on our roads

Sign up to Vision Zero & set target of zero road deaths or serious injuries in GM by 2040. Adopt 20mph as default limit in built-up areas & create safe urban centres & high streets. Prioritise enforcement against offences that pose greatest harm to others: speeding, careless driving, mobile phone use & uninsured vehicles. Treat road crime as real crime.

 

 

7. Give buses and trams a better ride 

By 2030 commit to: Making franchised network a success by adding 1000 miles of new or improved 24/7 bus lanes, including more guided routes; upgrading & diversifying fleet so all vehicles run on renewable energy; make more affordable by expanding concessions & capping fares. Enhance & extend tram network with new routes & plans for further growth.

 

 

8. Improve trains and cap air travel

Campaign for funding & powers to oversee local, suburban & regional services inside GM in order to speed up journey times & frequency. Expand rail network including new stations. Make all stations fully accessible. Push GM leaders to review business plan for Manchester Airport & bring in line with GM’s 2038 carbon-zero commitment.

 

 

9. Create an integrated network

Make an integrated, sustainable transport network in which safe walking & cycling are embedded, an immediate & ongoing ‘top 3’ priority. Enable ‘trip hopping’ from foot, bike, bus, tram & train through single ticketing with daily & weekly fare caps, allowing bikes on trams & tram-trains & developing good walking & cycling routes between transport hubs. Enable more e-car sharing & develop a cohesive e-charging network on road not footways.

 

 

10. Tighten up and open out

Review & refresh all structures, roles & governance to align with delivering an ‘integrated, sustainable network’ and related targets – including pushing for control of commuter rail & key roads inside GM, & taking up powers to enforce moving traffic offences locally. Ensure meaningful engagement with communities and that people are more fully represented in decision-making. Create cross-sector advisory panel alongside TfGM, & in each borough.

 

Review: Walk Ride GM March General Meeting

Review: Walk Ride GM March General Meeting

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 

Word Games: The Language of Active Travel Campaigning

Word Games: The Language of Active Travel Campaigning

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 

Walking & Cycling in GM State of Play survey: THE RESULTS

Walking & Cycling in GM State of Play survey: THE RESULTS

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 survey analysis including graphs and verbatim comments, go here).

 

Headlines

 

The survey points to an engaged group who are on board with the strategy and believe in the vision – but are concerned and frustrated that we are falling behind in the delivery, and feeling increasingly alienated by the internal politics seen to be holding things back.

 

The biggest concerns are over the effect this behind-the-scenes wrangling is having on the pace of rollout and continuation of daily dangers faced on the roads through lack of protection & enforcement; a gap between the accepted standards of best practice and poor quality of what is often delivered; and the absence of appetite or ability to enact bigger bolder measures to reduce instances of driving, which are seen to be needed to deliver the vision.

 

Some even called for responsibility for roads to be reallocated to the Greater Manchester Combined Authority as with other forms of transport in order to break the deadlock with intransient, sluggish or car-centric local authorities, who currently control the highways.

 

  • ‘We need you and local councils to work together to deliver coordinated action – not the farce of pop up cycle lanes that end at a council border’.

 

  • ‘Take the reins from local highways departments to make delivery quicker and better designed’.

 

  • ‘Take protection of vulnerable road users away from local authorities and create a GM approach’

 

  • ‘Stop drowning this important work in your internal politics’

 

  • ‘Please be more ambitious and apply pressure to local councils to do more where possible.’

 

  • ‘Everyone knows and says we need to tackle traffic dominance, but almost every practical decision has the opposite effect. Now is the time to actually deliver what you say you want. It is essential that districts are given more help and direction – not cash, but capacity building and training’.

 

Two in five people said they felt the Bee Network plan was definitely not on track, with that rising to three in five in their own borough, and the most common answer to the question ‘what would you like to say to those in charge’ was a variation on ‘Please get on with it’. 

 

We also noted a disturbing tone of feeling increasingly exposed on the roads from those who do walk or cycle, and a plea for more protection::

  

  • ‘I feel threatened by the behaviour of drivers every day’.

 

  • ‘We need more protection when cycling. I don’t feel comfortable cycling and as a major European city we are falling behind’

 

  • ‘I intend to buy a car, after not having one for 15 years, because it’s not possible to get around the city reliably and safely’.

 

  • ‘I am close to giving up cycling. I just get home feeling angry… every time’

 

The survey also points to a gap in communication from the accountable bodies about their progress and perceived lack of any clear milestones; and to people who do still feel engaged with the topic but that their input is being overlooked or has to be endlessly fought for, as promises over engagement fall short.

 

In some cases, opportunities for people to engage appear to have gone backwards – with reports of forums closing down, suggestions and ideas being ignored by councils and evidence of ‘consultation fatigue’.

 

  • ‘We made lots of effort to respond to the beeline consultations, but haven’t had any response from the council in their plans or their communications. It’s really off-putting. I thought the consultation seemed like a really positive thing but now I think it was box-checking’. 

 

Our survey paints a picture of people who feel largely excluded from the ability to help with this challenge locally: almost third thirds (64.7%) felt completely or partially disconnected from exerting any ‘influence’, and while the picture was less negative for the ability to provide more practical help  – even then only 25% felt able to ‘get involved’

 

Bearing in mind our assumption is that the majority respondents are Walk Ride supporters and some of the most engaged people with this agenda in GM, the fact only one in four feel able to get involved near to where they live, and most feel barely any ability to influence, points to a clear opportunity for more to be done at grassroots engagement level in GM.

 

When asked how to solve this problem, opportunities for genuine engagement with local councils was the number one suggestion, allied to clearer information & more regular communication, and thirdly – for more explicit political leadership at borough level.

 

Engagement

  • ‘Proper route planning meetings please – the Cycling and Walking Forum is a sham’

 

  • ‘We should push the Council to engage in proper planning meetings. The collective meeting about the Northern Quarter cycle route was brilliant. More of this’.

 

Communication

  • ‘Somewhere we could see which of the original proposals have been taken up and where they are up to’

 

  • ‘Just one website to signpost people too, they are all scattered and people aren’t coming together’

 

  • ‘A central source of information; plans and progress’. 

 

Leadership

  • ‘The council needs to lead on this & believe the required transformation is indeed possible. I don’t currently believe it does’. 

 

  • ‘I want to see a clear statement from councillors who actually support the aims of the Bee Network and evidence that the member for highways understands that this will mean reallocation of road space’. 

 

For interviews about this survey contact hello@walkridegm.org.uk

 

Methodology: The survey was live for the months of November & December 2020, published via Walk Ride website, newsletter and social media. As such, we assume most respondents are among the most engaged with this agenda in Greater Manchester. Answers were anonymous.

 

For the full survey analysis including graphs and verbatim comments, go here.

 

Walk Ride GM, 24/01/2021

For queries about this survey contact hello@walkridegm.org.uk

2021: The Year of the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

2021: The Year of the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

At our last General Meeting of 2020, Greater Manchester’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner Chris Boardman said that more than 30 Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs – also known as Active Neighbourhoods or Filtered Neighbourhoods) would be implemented across Greater Manchester during 2021. Here we have a