Tell Us Where in Greater Manchester You Need Help Walking or Cycling Safely During Lockdown
As one of Manchester’s busiest streets is to be partially closed to traffic from this weekend to help people safely walk and cycle while physically distancing, campaigners are asking Greater Manchester residents which other streets need safety measures during the Coronavirus pandemic.
On Saturday a section of Deansgate in Manchester is to be temporarily closed to cars, with the city council saying they hope the changes may become permanent.
Walk Ride Greater Manchester (WRGM), a grassroots volunteer group set up in late 2018 to campaign for more space to be given to pedestrians and cyclists, is working with councils to help launch online tools where residents can make #safestreets suggestions for making it safer to walk and ride a bike during Covid19.
Four interactive maps have been rapidly launched this week, with hundreds of suggestions from residents already made, and more to follow.
These are for:
As a result, mayor Andy Burnham launched a £5m #SafeStreetsSaveLives emergency fund to enable Greater Manchester councils to carry out measures to support distancing during coronavirus lockdown and recovery, with further funding promised from the government as part of a £2bn national package.
So far in the North West it’s Liverpool which has led the way, this week announcing 100km of pop-up lanes to help people move around the city on bike or foot.
WalkRideGM have been helping councils across Greater Manchester engage with residents for ideas on how to help people get around safely by foot or bike here, especially those who are more vulnerable such as children or people with disabilities.
Volunteers in Stockport, Bolton and Bury have worked with local councils to set up maps where residents can flag streets and neighbourhoods where it is currently tricky to keep two metres away from others while walking or cycling.
In the first 48 hours of launch, Stockport’s map had more than 1,000 interactions from residents keen to make their views heard about how their streets could be made safer and easier to move around on foot or bike, with mobility aids or buggies.
Salford Council has already launched its own map and WRGM has suggested a similar approach to the other six boroughs. Manchester and Tameside are set to follow suit very soon.
In the meantime, residents can email their local councillors and executive members for transport to make their suggestions.
WRGM wants to encourage residents to get involved in reconfiguring their streets during the pandemic, with the hope that some changes are made permanent as a part of the region’s long-term strategy to reduce car journeys by 1m a day across Greater Manchester.
WRGM’s Claire Stocks said: “With members of the public asked to avoid public transport, it is crucial that the streets and pavements of Greater Manchester are rapidly made safer to walk and ride a bike. There is no time to lose if we don’t want residents to get back into their cars, contributing to even more congestion and air pollution than there was before the pandemic hit – bearing in mind that traffic jams were already said to cost Greater Manchester £169m a year and air quality was already at illegal levels.”
She added: “With so many people out and about enjoying cleaner air and emptier streets, and surveys showing only 9% of people saying they want to ‘go back to how things were’ – this is a once-in-a-generation chance to reshape our streets for the better.
“We hope that many of the temporary interventions will be so popular that they will become permanent, leading Greater Manchester towards a future where our neighbourhoods and centres are clean, green, safe places to enjoy, rather than choked by congestion and pollution.”