Walking and Cycling News Roundup: 21 June 2020

Walking and Cycling News Roundup: 21 June 2020

Welcome to our June newsletter which will focus on walking and cycling news both good and bad – including controversy still rumbling on within Manchester, where there is protest ride next Saturday (27th June).

It seems like there has never been so much activity in the ‘active travel’ sector and, while it’s not all rosy in many places, it is worth taking a step back to celebrate the amazing shift that is happening in many others!

On Friday (19 June) £22m of Emergency Active Travel Fund schemes  were announced for London, with 200+ schemes across 24 boroughs – including more than £2.6m to Lambeth which is blazing the trail on active travel during Covid19.

And next week we expect to hear which schemes have made the cut of the £21.5m submitted by the GMCA on behalf of the 10 borough councils

Read on for where each borough is up to and our emoji leaderboard- who has more work to do than others?

Contents

  • Stories that make a difference 👀👀
  • Borough by borough news part 1
    • Salford  😁😁😁
    • Bolton 😁 😀
    • Bury 😀🌍
    • Manchester part 1 🙂🙂🙂
    • Manchester part 2  😐🤨😮🤬
  • Walk Ride GM – how to help 🙏🤝🙏
  • Borough by borough news part 1
    • Stockport 🙂 🤔 ❓
    • Trafford 🙂🙂
    • Oldham 🙂
    • Tameside🙂🙂
    • Rochdale  😕😬😨
  • Buses and tram news 🚌🚋
  • Useful links and UK news round-up 📰🔗
  • Free cycle training 🚲
  • And finally 🔚
STORIES THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE 👀👀

MEET LYRA, AGED 5

“I’d love to cycle on proper cycle lanes on the road. I could stretch my legs and not always have to sit on your (mum’s) bike. I’m frustrated I can’t cycle on the road with my bike.”

And meet Catherine, a woman who works in Manchester, who bought a bike to cycle to work for the first time.

Do you know of stories like this? Please help us collect & share tales of what this is all about: everyday people, young and old newly enabled to walk or cycle more.
So please get in touch if you can help! Email: content@walkridegm.org.uk

The more we can  do this, the better we help our cause;  check out this clip of nurses and doctors saying thanks to those able to cycle.

And here’s the One Show on the experience of two people new to cycling (11 mins).

We’ll sprinkle some of these personal tales through this newsletter and look out for the collection on our website.

BOROUGH-BY-BOROUGH NEWS
SALFORD 😁😁😁

Salford are ‘really going for it’ with temporary measures to aid walking and cycling – see image below for details of the latest trials to roads that prevent through traffic but allow access to those on foot or bike, that will come in at the end of the month.

This is what political will looks like:  Salford’s leaders checking out pop up mobility infrastructure in Salford and Manchester 

Salford are also piloting a scheme to provide bike hangars where residents have limited space to store bikes. They’re available in 12 locations initially – complete this survey if you’d like to apply for one in your street.

If the scheme is successful, more hangars will be installed across Greater Manchester.

STORIES THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE: JOANNA

”Two weeks into lockdown, I bought a bike. I had not ridden a bike since I was 17, so obviously I was nervous. I walked to the cycle track with my bike as I’m so conscious of traffic. It started with 5k, 10k, and now I’m doing 26k, visiting Sale Water Park. I lost weight and I feel really good. I can’t imagine never riding a bike again. I’d spent so much of my adult life driving everywhere.”    

BOLTON 😁😀

Good things are afoot!

Grahame, chair of the Bolton Active Travel Forum and Walk Rider, jumped on our arrangement with Commonplace to get an interactive map for the borough up and running in a few days, and then burnt the midnight oil to process all the comments and turn them into this powerful, data-led proposal for the area.

We love this associated tube-style map that shows clearly and simply how the routes will enable people to get about safely and quickly.

Bolton University has also just bought 1,000 bikes for students 👏👏👏 and discussions have started about providing safe routes for students between
campuses, train station, halls of residence and areas with other student residences.

In terms of measures ongoing: A pavement widening scheme has been implemented on Newport Street in Bolton town centre to aid distancing, using one traffic lane.

Space will be reallocated on Knowsley Street and Blackhorse Street in the town centre and construction work is underway on the Cyclops junction at Trinity Street/Newport Street/Thynne Street (adjacent to the railway station), with work underway to develop protected mobility routes on adjacent streets.

Design work is progressing on a pop-up mobility route from Horwich to Bolton town centre along Chorley New Road, and emergency measures on Winter Hey Lane in Horwich. This will be followed by a design for the A6.

Further work is progressing on a list of schemes for submission to tranche 2 of the Emergency Active Travel Fund.

STORIES THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE: ELEANOR

“Having pop-up bike lanes would mean a lot to me and make it easier for me to travel to and from college when I start in September. The roads are too dangerous for me to be comfortable cycling on them and there is only one bus service each morning. This means that I will always have to arrive at college at the same time, even on days where I might not have lessons until the afternoon and also assumes that I’ll be able to get onto the busy bus’’.

BURY 😀🌍
Speaking of maps, never in the history of maps may one have proved quite as  effective as the one produced by one Walk Rider, David, to illustrate the GMCA-backed proposal for 200km of radial lanes across the region….

…Updated to show what happens if the borough of Manchester refused to play ball (more on this ongoing stalemate coming up next in the Manchester section!)

We understand Bury has bid for a lane to run the length of Bury New Road (A56) into Manchester.

MANCHESTER – the good news 🙂🙂🙂

Manchester City Council submitted £600k of proposals for temporary measures to enhance walking and cycling last week  – and also pledged that all £79m of permanent schemes already in the pipeline will be underway before the end of 2020.

Two thirds of the temporary measures proposed focused on the city centre, which Walk Ride Deansgate & Piccadilly have mapped here.  (full list of all proposals in images below)

Although at first these few hundred metres of city centre changes look underwhelming, they are positive statements in favour of more areas being dedicated to people on foot and bike and crucially include a much-needed triangle of better, direct routes between major stations.

One of the most promising developments has been the inclusion of formal support to consider a filtered neighbourhood in the Parsonage area, following problems caused to residents by traffic re-routed by the Deansgate trial

Walk Ride Deansgate say the level of engagement among residents & councillors has been really positive and are optimistic that this may lead to even better things.

The Parsonage scheme is semi-official but shown on the map are another four proposals from residents, ranging from using barriers to filter a railway arch all the way to a comprehensive suggestion to filter most of the Northern Quarter.

If you live or run a business in Deansgate or Piccadilly Wards and you have an idea for a scheme please do tell your councillor and let WR Deansgate or WR Piccadilly know so that the map can be updated and to inspire other neighbours.

Deansgate

Please do also make sure you feedback on the closure of upper Deansgate to through vehicles; this was initially sought via an email but has now moved to this form

Chorlton cycleway 

The £13m Chorlton cycleway passes another important milestone with the opening this Friday (26th June) of the innovative ‘Cyclops’ junction at Royce Road (which offers safe routing for pedestrians and cyclists and is the first of its kind in the UK).

Levenshulme

The Levenshulme Bee Network enters an exciting new phase as the ambitious low-traffic neighbourhood scheme for the area moves to trial stage.

The plans are a hot topic within Levenshulme, with some residents wanting more information about how it will all work.

This scheme would be the first of its kind in Manchester, and is modelled on the hugely successful Waltham Forest scheme in London which is now being replicated in dozens of other communities, and we encourage anyone who can, to lend moral and/or practical support to the hard-working team for this massively important ‘proof of concept’. Contact: hello@levenshulmebeenetwork.co.uk or on Twitter.

If you live in the neighbourhood – you may like to join the Facebook group and there are four webinars on 4 & 5 July to explain more about the  trial, in which many roads will be temporarily closed to through car traffic, and open to those on foot & bike, with the whole scheme monitored and people’s experiences surveyed for six months, to inform longer-term change.

Ideas for walking and cycling in Manchester

Residents anywhere in the city are encouraged to e-mail saferstreets@manchester.gov.uk to propose measures to help walking and cycling.

We are not sure what happens to proposals sent in and several groups are seeking clarification on proposals submitted – Walk Ride Chorlton made a number of requests following clear feedback from 500+ residents. And Walk Ride Whalley Range is also now analysising of 250+ survey responses before summarising their requests.

STORIES THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE: SHAUN

‘The situation during lockdown has been a revelation and felt like I’m abroad. The greater number of other people out on bikes has also made me feel safer. I’ve been to places that are quite close by, but I never went there before and wondered why – but it’s because normally it would have been such an unpleasant experience with aggressive, high-volume traffic, just generally feeling the road was not a place I should be on a bike’.

MANCHESTER – the not so good news 😐🤨😮🤬

Manchester’s position on cycling continues to be confusing and seemingly at odds with others, preventing a coordinated regional plan.

“If six months ago we’d said we were going to put up pop-up lanes, with just cones to shield people from traffic, there would have been absolute uproar about safety,’ said Leader Sir Richard Leese in an interview with CityCo

Leese’s words (see panel below for excerpt) appear to show the city’s strategy for getting people back into Manchester city centre is at cross purposes with that of the GMCA/TfGM (which has responsibility for regional strategy and public transport, while councils control the roads and pavements).

The interview seems to show a view in which cycling won’t scale to move people about in any number, that lanes get in the way of cars & buses, and that he’s waiting for the 2m distancing rule on public transport to be relaxed. 

When GM mayor Andy Burnham revealed the 200km plan in his weekly press conference last week he chose to make only diplomatic reference to this Manchester-sized fly in the ointment… despite the fact the network doesn’t really work if they don’t play ball.  (this is a good article on the details of the row).

A statement put out the same day by MCC, promised: ‘where neighbouring local authorities are planning to create temporary pop-up cycle lanes which approach Manchester, the council will work with partners in each case, to ensure that safety for all road users is prioritised.’
While this sounds like an olive branch, we believe this could still lead to the plan being kicked into the long grass – as it directly cuts out GMCA/TfGM and puts the onus on each of the other nine boroughs (who may not have the expertise, capacity or inclination) to ask an obviously-reluctant MCC for help.

It seems that the Government is considering reducing the  official distancing requirement from 2m to 1m  – which would make a big difference to public transport capacity and ability of bars and restaurants to serve customers, coupled with a relaxing of rules to allow food and drink to be served outside.

From talking to people in the city, it seems many offices can’t accommodate more than about 15% of staff with 2m distancing and even if it’s reduced it’s likely they’ll continue to encourage working from home (we hear some are even banning people going to the office via public transport), so numbers will be down for a good while.

Having said that – Andy Burnham made it clear in a Growth Company webinar the previous  week that businesses are going to be encouraged to return to offices:
We have a responsibility to support the city centre, not to come back all at once, but I will be asking you to bring some people back. The city needs vibrancy’.

Still, we think Manchester’s leadership are missing some crucial points in the mission to facilitate safe cycling  and hold on to the 50-100% increases seen during lockdown –  including the fact the Government has instructed local councils to do so.
Here’s a reminder of that guidance from the Department of Transport:

‘The main purpose of the initial funding is to promote cycling as a replacement for journeys previously made by public  transport. Funding is therefore weighted towards areas which until the crisis had high levels of public transport use, especially for short local journeys which can now be cycled’.

We set out our points to the council leadership two weeks ago – and our position remains the same.

One disappointment is when cycling continues to be positioned as an alternative mode of transport to walking, despite the fact we know people use both for different distances (people will generally walk up to a mile), and investment is required in both;  lanes to help get people into the city, clearer pavements, vehicle-free spaces & safer crossings to help them get around.

So, despite the Leader’s words – we have yet to see a plan for how Manchester intends to get increased numbers of people into the regional centre  – with public transport  running at lower capacity and 45% of households without a car (as high as 63% in some wards eg Ardwick).

We believe people merit more information, and that there should be a transparent debate about it, especially when some of the statements seem at odds with the wider region’s transport stance, other boroughs (eg neighbouring Salford), and Government guidance.

Manchester did indeed submit a bid for £600k worth of measures – which we support.

We also welcome the move to speed up permanent schemes, although we remain disappointed that simple measures to link up with other routes are not being taken in the meantime – for instance the A56 through Trafford could provide a safe route into town from Chorlton if a few hundred yards of cones were run down from Stretford, and in Hulme, the scheme ends at Bridgewater Way – 300 yards short of the high-quality £13m cycle scheme Manchester is issuing press releases about.

Indeed, there is a real possibility that some or all of Manchester’s £600k bid is rejected because it’s not closely enough aligned to the Government guidance (eg stipulation schemes had to ‘make a demonstrable difference to the status quo’).

It was also disappointing that it took a public backlash  – including publicly from several local MPs and even an item in the House of Lords – to flush out the details.

Next week, the issue will be raised by councillors at the Neighbourhood and Environment Scrutiny Committee (now resuming following lockdown abeyance) at 2pm, Wed 24 June – agenda here and you can watch online.

Concerns remain – protest bike lane Saturday 26th June

Some residents are writing to councillors ahead of that meeting to raise concerns not just about the content of the council’s bid and it’s position on pop-up mobility lanes, but lack of transparency around decision making on it.

And others are so frustrated  they’re creating a human bike lane on the A6 in Levenshulme, in protest at the council’s stance, at midday on Saturday 27 June.

The organisers say the event will involve a safe, socially distanced chain of people and bikes along the A6 and will abide by all physical distancing rules.

‘Without safe cycling, public transport will become crowded, risking people’s health.
‘Without safe cycling, car use will increase, polluting the air we breathe.

‘These things will affect BAME people, the poorest and those with underlying health problems the most. This is an issue of social justice’’.

‘We demand a safe route through our neighbourhood and to make sure MCC complete the whole network of pop-up cycle lanes across Manchester.’

(On the issue of social justice, walking and Cycling commissioner Chris Boardman talked powerfully about this in this webinar (also written up as a news story here).)

Wythenshawe news

One of those most engaged in Manchester council’s position on pop-up lanes is Mike Kane, MP for Wythenshawe & Sale East.

We hear Kane has now had meetings with the cycling minister Chris Heaton-Harris and Manchester’s Executive member Angeliki Stogia and some measures are now planned for the area in both phase 1 (as per the bid details above) and phase 2, which is expected to focus more on longer term measures.

(This week Kane was joined by councillor Mandie Shilton-Godwin, walking and cycling champion for Manchester City Council, Walk Riders and others on a ride around Northenden & surrounding areas to test out routes & identify improvements needed to make journeys safer.)

‘There is now a commitment to a plan for the area, linking with Trafford and Stockport and city centre. Not Covid lanes (yet) but we are working on that.’ said former Manchester councillor & Wythenshawe FM radio presenter Chris Paul.

Wythenshawe Hospitals & Simon’s Bridge are said to be two places likely to benefit.

Sir Richard Leese on walking and cycling (CityCo interview Mon 15th June):

‘‘Once you get into the city centre, we want to make it a pedestrian dominated area. We’re not going to be daft about that – lots of residents and businesses need servicing {by vehicles} so we have to try and manage it as carefully as we can – within all those constraints, we want to make it as pedestrian dominated and friendly as we can.

‘’In terms of getting to the city centre – we do not want people as far as possible commuting by private car; it does mean encouraging walking – the second biggest modal transfer we’ve seen – and encouraging cycling, but looking at that for the long term.

‘The sorts of schemes we’ve developed for Oxford Road; we need that sort of quality – so we not only grow cycling but we maintain it.

‘At the same time we need to be doing things away from the city centre. But the big issue around getting to it; how we are able to get public transport back operating in any sort of normal way… without that we cannot safely sustain the number of people who need to travel.

‘So there are big questions around that – the social distancing rules, face coverings, buses operating each vehicle at 20% – it’s not going to sustain us in the long term.

‘‘Other countries do not operate a 2m rule; and even for that it’s to do with people looking at each other face-to-face for an extended period, so we probably ought to have a more sophisticated understanding of how it needs to work. We are not near a stage where we can move away from it, but it does have to be less extreme and more practical.’’

Q: ‘Are you going to finish the A56 pop up lane from Trafford?’

A: (audible sigh) ‘We’ve bid for £600k of a £3m pot and we’ve concentrated on where we can fill gaps in existing provision or invest in walking and cycling in parts of the city where we’ve had little investment and we can’t do everything, there are choices that have to be made.

‘I have to say I have some doubts about pop-up cycling – we will see how it goes in other places, but I am fairly certain if we had gone out six months ago and said we are going to put up pop-up lanes with just cones to shield people from traffic, there would have been absolute uproar about the safety of that and I am not sure – apart from the Covid crisis – what has changed in between.

‘The road traffic data shows cars have been growing faster than anything else – if we do take out lots of road capacity it means we will get back to congestion a lot quicker, so that’s a concern, but also it’s bus lanes being taken out and that’s making it far more difficult for a lot of people who do not want to cycle and the bus is their only choice to get to work.

It’s more complicated than often presented about how we maximise people’s ability to move around (and) at the same time don’t increase congestion or have dreadful air quality.’

STORIES THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE: IRINA

I’ve absolutely LOVED getting out on my bike with my children and husband during lockdown.  It provided much needed exercise but also an opportunity to explore new areas where we would normally not venture on our bikes due to traffic. We have a trailer for our kids (1 and 3 years old) and our newly gained confidence on the road has meant us selling our second car and deciding to do the nursery run and commute on our bikes!”

WALK RIDE GM – HOW TO HELP 🙏🤝🙏

Like so much, most of Walk Ride GM’s ongoing activity has moved online.

We use an online space (on a platform called Slack) and hold regular zoom meetings with reps from local groups to check in, compare notes, and support each other.

It’s a good idea to make sure at least one person from your local group is in our slack space and attending these meetings where possible.

Next meeting: 6pm, Monday 22 June.

It’s also open for any individual to join to the conversation whether or not they are in a local group (find yours here), and we actively encourage anyone to get involved.

Email content@walkridegm.org.uk for a link to the zoom and/or Slack.

A few of the active pieces of work right now include

  • Stories that make a difference – finding and sharing stories of people enabled by walking and cycling
  • Inclusivity – campaigning for all
  • Borough by borough –  team up with people in your area on  issues related to you
  • Myth busting – curating frequently cited myths about walking and cycling – and how to counter them!
  • Lobbying – attending council meetings/ writing to councillors and asking difficult questions
  • Funding – seeking out ways to pay for our work,
  • Maps! – using data to show where walking and cycling measures are needed

We are also about to launch a Facebook group.

Please consider completing this survey from Living Streets asking about your experiences of engaging with councils about temporary measures.
STOCKPORT 🤔 ❓

Stockport Council seem to have stopped short of proposing an A6 pop-up route, proposing a set of lanes on parallel routes instead and making the shared cycle and bus lanes, 24 hours.

Bus lanes are not a popular place to cycle so there are still hopes an A6 lane may be considered – some Walk Riders are writing to councillors urging them to push for it.

Walk Ride Hazel Grove have been lobbying for some roads to be closed to through traffic but it looks as though the council is proposing not much more than removing pavement clutter.As with all the boroughs, we’re expecting to hear next week what measures will be funded by the  Government.

STORIES THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE: MARC

Yes Trafford Council!
For the first time in years I felt safe riding to work today. I’d stopped commuting on my bike as it became too dangerous. Super impressed with the pop-up bike lane. My car commute now takes 25 mins (up to 1.5 hours in usual circumstances). Today Whitefield to Trafford = 35 mins!!   

TRAFFORD 🙂🙂

Council leaders are committed to retaining the A56 lane while Government guidance exists, despite the increase in complaints about congestion (which existed before the pop up lane), for as long as Government guidance remains to avoid public transport.

There were more supportive comments than one might expect on this post about the A56 by TfGM on Facebook.

OLDHAM 🙂

If you live or work in the borough please visit the Commonplace interactive map to make suggestions for walking and cycling measures – check out the hundreds of comments already made or drop a pin  with a new suggestions or issue.

Runs until Tue 30 June.

TAMESIDE 🙂🙂

The council is installing routes along the A635 to provide an arterial corridor for cyclists and pedestrians from Ashton town centre towards the city centre and back.

They have also created a microsite to keep people up to speed with what is happening as well as allow them to make suggestions.

The council submitted a bid to the Emergency Active Travel fund and proposals include

  • key worker pop-up corridors for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as additional footway space by addressing pinch-points and removing street clutter.
  • safe ‘access only’ streets where residents can exercise with no through traffic.
  • other measures to create more space for social distancing include upgrading existing cycle lanes, creating temporary crossings, and schemes to calm traffic.

The borough is encouraging people to take this survey to make suggestions – it will be open to comments until 5pm 2 July.

‘We want local residents to have their say on these changes so we can work together to explore long-term opportunities and make walking and cycling in Tameside an easier and safer way to travel and the natural choice for residents,’ said the council.

ROCHDALE 😕😬
Walk Ride Rochdale has recently seen a hive of activity and were excited to learn that councillors had chosen to apply for funding to make a safe pop-up lane for non-car travel in Rochdale.

Sadly, we were then told that the council didn’t apply in the end as they found it ‘wasn’t possible to install these type of lanes’ as they’d completed an assessment and felt there were ‘no single pinch points within the borough’.

When asked how they were providing for the 30% of non-car drivers in the borough to safely travel, they responded:

‘In terms of people wanting to walk and cycle, there are provisions for people to do so. The Council would expect all road users to follow the Highway Code whether walking, cycling or driving to get to their destination.

‘Cyclists are included within the Highway Code and if there is not the space to segregate a cycle lane along a road then the only option is to share the road or use alternative routes such as traffic calmed quieter streets.  ‘The Highways team actively monitors the network for improvements for all modes of transport’.

Disappointing.

OTHER NEWS – BUSES & TRAMS 🚌  🚋
It was revealed on Friday that the report into the public consultation on Greater Manchester buses has recommended that they are brought back into public control under the Mayor Andy Burnham.

A total of 8,516 people and organisations commented – with 83% supporting the move and only 8% against.

However, the 528-page report recommends that any decision is deferred until the impact of Covid19 on public transport and the economy becomes clearer (skip to page 490 for conclusions!).

This is good news and thanks to hard work by Better Buses which led a strong campaign in favour of taking the buses back from the ownership of private companies run for profit.

Plus: Andy Burnham makes a plea for more funding to bail out the tram

USEFUL LINKS & NEWS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED 📰 🔗

News

 Ireland to spend 20% of transport  budget on walking and cycling

5% of Britons (more than 1m people)  bought a bike in lockdown

Half of employees in cities considering cycling to work

Influential Grimsey recommends ‘a radical shift in power from central government to local communities if high streets are to remain relevant and thrive’  (full report here)

Channel Four report on cities embracing cycling during Covid19

Liverpool forges ahead with it’s plan for 100km of pop-up lanes with a new temporary route from the popular Sefton Park to the main Hospitals.

Why Leicester is a beacon for active travel 

Local authorities asked for “shovel ready” green recovery schemes .

Hackney Council to ban traffic outside nearly all primary schools during opening and closing times from September

SantanderCycles sees 37,802 hires in one day, 34% higher than last year

Switch from public transport could put 1m more cars on road

INCLUSION

Handcycler Ellis Palmer on the need for inclusive bike lanes

WEBINARS

How Waltham Forest did it (webinar, Simon Monk, London Cycling Campaign)

How to start a bike bus (webinar, British Cycling) 

MAPS

Slow lanes:- team of 700 volunteers plot 7,000 new footpaths – and are looking for more volunteers to help  and suggestions for a logo for the routes

London map of new temporary cycle routes  

GRAPHICS

MYTHBUSTERS

 Ways to counter popular arguments against walking and cycling measures 

FREE CYCLE TRAINING 🚲🚲

Transport for Greater Manchester is offering a range of free courses, including one aimed at families & another for truck drivers to be more aware of cyclists.

Basic to advanced maintenance on offer courses too (from £5).

AND FINALLY … 

We’ve been trialling calling pop-up bike lanes mobility lanes  – to make the point they enable far more than bikes, including wheeled mobility aids – or indeed are mobility aids themselves (the 2019 Bike Life report revealed that 7% of disabled people cycle once a week)

It’s an example of why now more than ever we feel we need to use accessible language and help do our bit to make walking & cycling as inclusive as possible.

On this theme, we liked Chris Boardman had a few suggestions for signs warning of temporary lanes:

‘Not everyone has a car, we’re looking after everyone. Thanks for your patience’

‘If you can ride, you’re helping free up space for those that can’t. Thank you!’

‘Thanks for your patience, this lane is for those who normally rely on public transport’.



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