Words: Ian Pennington, RTPI Young Planners Vice Chair It’s been called the single most important thing that mayors can do to tackle climate change: prioritising the needs of pedestrians and cyclists over space for cars. In Greater Manchester, the active travel network – originally coined …
Slowly but surely, steps are being taken across Greater Manchester to help make walking and cycling safer, easier and more attractive. And now, we’re aiming to support, champion, and encourage the best bits: Announcing… The Annual Walk Ride GM Awards Let’s celebrate the positive movement …
We believe that now is the time for travel to and from school, and young people’s journeys, to become a central part of our city and regional transport & place-making plans.
While we are starting to see some welcome positive steps – it’s vital we make young people a more central part of the Bee Network story – both as key beneficiaries and participants informing plans.
We’re calling for a clearer vision for schools and young people at the heart of plans for our places – and would like to see targets for sustainable travel to school modes built into Bee Network plans, with ring-fenced funding, and packages of support for schools as lynchpins of active neighbourhoods, and key trip drivers.
There are positive elements to build on – temporary, volunteer-led ‘School Streets’* are taking place at an increasing number of schools in the region, and schools can apply for free bike training for pupils (in Manchester for instance) .
Last year TfGM announced £500k to support School Streets, and in Manchester councillors recently passed a motion to commit to ‘enabling children and their families to walk and cycle safely to school and parks’ as part of the Year of the Child, recognising the impact of increased traffic and need for more active travel.
But these measures seem disjointed; and as we’ll explore further on – the School Streets we do have, are sporadic, infrequent and reliant on volunteer parents. To really have an effect they need to be permanent and, crucially, part of a holistic package of support that includes changes to the public realm outside the school to make it safer, and other measures such as bike storage, travel planning and incentives.
How is travel to school changing?
Many agree that the status quo is far from pedestrian-friendly in the Greater Manchester city-region. Often these are political choices about the allocation of our public realm to different modes of transport – large portions of this public space is given over to vehicles, with …
Walk Ride Blackley have prepared and submitted a petition for safer pedestrian access as part of an open letter to local councillors, along with community-led plans to highlight the issues that need attention. We’re asking Blackley and Charlestown councillors to improve pedestrians access between Old …
Walk Ride GM’s newest subgroup has already made strides towards safer streets in the Blackley area since forming in late 2021.
Walk Ride Blackley was established by local residents in response to the car-centric status quo on the school run, to address antisocial driving and parking, and to generally be able to move more safely around the area’s streets and public realm.
Group founder and coordinator Antje says the aim is “to improve conditions for active travel and public transport in the Blackley area. Residents should have a good quality choice of getting safely from a-to-b without having to rely on a car.”
She adds that, “Improving active travel in the area will make all road users safer, improve air quality and therefore public health, reduce carbon emissions and strengthen the community.”
Antje describes how Walk Ride Blackley has progressed positively so far:
“The group has been meeting since September 2021. Since then we have organised one online meeting with the general public, one street audit of Victoria Avenue and Middleton Road with Blackley councillor Shelley Lanchbury – the immediate result from that was that the street markings will be renewed.
“Working with Bowker Vale Primary School, we got the class representatives of year 5 and year 6 to conduct a survey to parents on how children are getting to school. This was done during national Road Safety week in November.”
Already, Walk Ride Blackley has set out a range of key objectives for 2022 and beyond:
- Become involved in the planning process for implementation of the Bee Network in Blackley – creating links between the community and decision-makers
- Introduce traffic calming and 20mph speed limits – including a number of locations already identified
- Tackle pavement parking – focus on school-run hours and key streets where enforcement is needed
- Improve and maintain off-road public footpaths – including Tweedle Commons, Boggart Hole Clough & more…
- Introduce segregated cycle lanes along the major road and enforce against obstruction – targeting Victoria Avenue, Middleton Road, Blackley New Road, and Rochdale Road
- Safe pedestrian crossings – including the forthcoming side road zebra crossings and key desire lines
- Public transport – involve residents in route-planning, frequent and reliable services, and connection with other modes of transport
To get involved, contact Antje via email on email@example.com or via Twitter @WlkRideBlackley.
For advice on how you too could form a local Walk Ride group, visit our guide here.
PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE ATTENTION: WRGM REACTION TO ANNOUNCEMENT CHRIS BOARDMAN TO LEAVE POST Thanks Boardman for his agenda-setting work Highlights delivery of Bee Network is well off track Calls for a commitment to replace Boardman as Transport Commissioner and for them to tackle key …
Southeast Manchester community group Streets for People has published its response to the proposed permanent neighbourhood improvement scheme measures revealed by Manchester City Council (MCC) in December 2021. The group’s helpful guide assesses each subsection of the scheme boundary and offers considerations of what’s good, …
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 as kissing gates have been removed from access points to local parks, including Houldsworth Park and Marbury Road Park, enabling disabled people to enjoy more of Stockport’s green spaces, including wheelchair users, parents pushing double buggies, and people using mobility aids.
The installation of a roundabout on the Marbury Road junction at the northern end of Carnforth Road has helped to calm traffic, and antisocial driving has been curtailed along the long, straight stretch of Carnforth Road towards Nelstrop Road by a modal filter at Broadstone Hall Road North (BHRN).
The new one-way system on Ash Grove has also been celebrated by residents for bringing about a massive reduction in traffic levels past Manchester Road Park, along with filters reducing the through traffic in the Bollington Road area.
Despite seeing regular use by local people, including young children, the table tennis table has been moved from the pocket park in the safe space created at BHRN due to reports of antisocial behaviour by a few users of the space. The table can now be used at Houldsworth Park, and the former pocket park location still benefits from the modal filter, which creates a safe area of the estate for children and adults alike to play, scoot and cycle through.
The scheme is due to be removed in early December, followed by a period of reversion to the previous status quo, before a consultation in early 2022 to gather feedback from users of the streets and analyse the traffic data collected by Stockport Council during the trial.
In the meantime, you can have your say by emailing your local councillors and the trial feedback email, firstname.lastname@example.org, specifying which filters have made a positive impact for you.
Walk Ride Heatons – the subgroup formed to represent walking and cycling progress across the four Heatons of Chapel, Mersey, Moor and Norris – has also been busy supporting local parents with ideas to change their trips to the main primary school in the Active Neighbourhood area, Broadstone Hall Primary School. They prepared the following text for a local news outlet, Heatons Post, which is delivered to households across the North Stockport area:
Heatons Active Neighbourhood trial – get on your bike to school!
Walk Ride Heatons
Up to a quarter of all traffic in the morning rush hour is part of the school run, so it’s vital we try to make more journeys to and from school on foot or by bike. It’s also really good for kids, increasing their daily physical activity and arriving at school better able to learn and have fun.
The Heatons Active Neighbourhood trial is all about reducing the number of motor vehicles on our residential roads, making them better places to walk and cycle. Now is a great time for you and your kids to try out the roads on a bike and see for yourself what a difference the filters can make. And because this is a trial, you can pass on your feedback to the council to make it even better.
We’ve split up the school catchment area into different zones so you can plan your journey.
The Heatons Cycle Link means you can already cycle across the Meadows. Carry on over Black Brook, and up past the Scout hut to the filters at the top of Broadstone Hall Rd North. Cycle down to the junction, then cross on foot at the crossing. For Howard Ave and Norfolk Ave, walk to Langdale Rd to begin your ride.
For those houses west of Manchester Rd, first walk to and use the crossing at the George and Dragon junction. From there, Meadows Rd offers a cobbly (bumpy!) route to the Meadows. From there, follow the Zone 1 route to the school. Remember it may not be the most direct route, but it can be quicker to cycle the long way round than to walk.
The best way across Broadstone Rd is the crossing at top of Broadstone Hall Rd South, so choose whichever route takes you to there most directly. Appleton Rd makes a good route if you’re to the south, and Carnforth Rd is good if you’re to the north.
If you live on or near Briarfield Rd, you can go straight to the school past the filters. If you’re coming from east of the railway line, take care at the tunnel.
The path alongside the school takes you most directly to the school for most people in this zone. Make sure to walk the final stretch to school. If you live on Ash Grove, remember that it’s now one-way, so you’ll need to walk the final stretch on the way home.
The passageway to Lambs Fold gives you a nice walking link from this zone to Manchester Rd. Take care if you need to cross Denby Ln, as it gets more traffic than neighbouring roads. You can use the temporary lights on Manchester Rd, or take care and use the island crossings until you get to Zone 5.
Manchester Rd/Broadstone Rd/School Ln
Choose your nearest zone, walk to the start, then get pedalling!
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