Review: Marple Street Audit
Words by Peter Black
WalkRide Marple held a sunny Street Audit on Saturday 24 August. 12 people aged 7 to 60 turned up to scour the streets for issues and identify potential to make our community a better place for people to engage in active travel.
Marple is a small town 6km south east of Stockport. It’s served by two train stations – Marple and Rose Hill. There are many local amenities – schools, a Sixth Form College, shops, leisure centre, restaurants, cafes and even an independent cinema. But accessing these valued amenities by foot or bicycle isn’t straightforward or even safe.
How did we do our street audit?
About a dozen of us met in the middle of Marple and, after a quick briefing, split into groups of 3-4 on foot and cycle to audit the key streets we wanted to target. The aim was to identify where pedestrians and cyclists wanted to go, what things made their life difficult and what would make it easier. We also wanted to identify some positive points.
Each group had a printed handout (which you can download here: Marple Healthy Streets Check) with a circle of ten issues – ‘not too noisy’, ‘easy to cross’, ‘places to rest’, etc. – to help organise our thoughts. Things that needed improvement were written outside the circle, good things inside – although we didn’t find many of these.
We then reconvened about 90 minutes later to discuss our findings and suggestions for improvements.
Identify Key Themes
These are the four key themes that the Street Audit produced:
- Most pavements are narrow and badly surfaced. In some cases they disappear altogether and, even where they exist, the surface is broken up and often too bad for mobility scooters. This contrasts with the road surface for vehicles which has had a lot of money spent on it. Crossing side roads is awkward – we need some continuous pavements, and crossing the main Stockport Road is intimidating too, as that brand-new surface encourages faster traffic.
- Cycling on-road is mainly hostile, with no dedicated lanes and constant, intimidating traffic. Although road surfaces have been improved, the cambers at the edge – which is where cyclists ride – are often dangerously neglected.
- Quality of most public space is poor. Noise, fumes, traffic and clutter make Marple centre in particular a less attractive place to shop, eat or linger.
- Cycle Parking in the adjacent Marple Bridge is desperately needed. Previous cycle parking was removed in spite of the village’s popularity with cyclists. We think it should be replaced, preferably by taking one car parking space, which would allow for more seating too.
We are now compiling these into a list to lobby our local councillors, who have been supportive so far, and ultimately compile a Mayoral Challenge funding bid. This is going to take much more effort than the audit did, but is an essential part of the process.
Perhaps the most valuable part of the day was the informal coffee afterwards in the Marple sun (yes!). We reached a clear consensus on what needs to be done and where. We also had a good discussion about the needs of blind and partially sighted people.
We all love Marple, but it is mostly overrun by traffic. But we’ve now taken the first step to help change our community to regenerate the centre and make sure that it works for everyone – not just drivers.
We are happy to share out experience with other groups, and of course we would love more people to join WalkRide Marple. To get involved, contact Peter Black (07505 22 1405 or firstname.lastname@example.org).