Author: Ian Pennington

Stockport Councillors join Walk Ride for successful ‘Infrastructure Safari’

Stockport Councillors join Walk Ride for successful ‘Infrastructure Safari’

A trio of councillors from across Stockport joined a recent guided cycle tour of the modern, best-practice infrastructure that has gone in across Salford and Manchester. Cllr Geoff Abell (Marple North), Cllr James Frizzell (Reddish South), and Cllr Peter West (Norbury & Woodsmoor) met with 

Walk Ride invites Stockport councillors and officers on an ‘Infrastructure Safari’

Walk Ride invites Stockport councillors and officers on an ‘Infrastructure Safari’

Members of Walk Ride Stockport have invited the borough’s councillors and officers to experience the modern, best-practice infrastructure that is increasingly evident in parts of Greater Manchester. The ride – coined as an ‘infrastructure safari‘ – will give participants the opportunity to feel firsthand how 

Moving Traffic Offences: What are our councils’ game-changing new powers?

Moving Traffic Offences: What are our councils’ game-changing new powers?

Since 31 May 2022, local authorities in England outside of London have been able to apply to the Secretary of State for new powers to enforce ‘moving traffic offences’. This means they can be granted powers that have previously been held only by the police and will be able to issue fines to drivers for these offences for the first time.

Greater Manchester Powers

From 22 July 2023, it was announced that the powers have been granted to 6 Greater Manchester Local Authorities (LAs) (Manchester, Oldham, Salford, Rochdale, Trafford, Wigan). Stockport recently agreed to apply, and Bolton has launched a consultation to inform its decision on whether to progress an application. Tameside and Bury have not indicated whether they intend to go ahead.

Each of the 6 LAs with granted powers has agreed an area that the designation covers, with any exclusions noted. The order applies to all areas in the district, unless explicitly excluded.

What Are the Uses and Benefits?

Prior to the change in legislation in England (outside of London), moving traffic offences were enforceable only by the police. The one exception was in London where Transport for London and London Borough Councils already have ‘civil enforcement’ powers. In London, these offences have therefore effectively been decriminalised and are treated as civil ‘contraventions’. However, in local authority areas outside London, many of these offences might not be being enforced in full by the police.

In England and Wales, moving traffic offences are defined in law in Schedule 7 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 (as amended). They include:

  • incorrectly driving into a bus lane
  • stopping in a yellow box junction
  • banned right or left turns
  • illegal U-turns
  • going the wrong way in a one-way street
  • ignoring a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO).

London’s Boroughs have benefitted from the nearly 600 school streets that have now been delivered under TROs. Generally, cameras are used for enforcement, with smaller school streets sometimes still using physical barriers. Examples of how these are being used (including the application of exemptions) are Haringey, Richmond and Lewisham.

Traffic signs subject to moving traffic enforcement are set out in the Traffic Management Act Schedule 7 and include ‘entry to and waiting in a pedestrian and cycle zone restricted’.

Application Process

Each LA had to follow certain steps when they applied for designation of the moving traffic enforcement powers, based on a number of pre-determined locations. Those steps will need to be followed in respect of any additional enforcement locations in the future. However, it will not be necessary to seek further approval from the Secretary of State for additional enforcement locations in cases where the whole area has already been designated. These steps and guidance are set out in this document.

Penalties and Use of Fines

A penalty charge may only be imposed in respect of a moving traffic contravention based on evidence from a camera and associated recording equipment (an ‘approved device’). Such devices must be approved by the Secretary of State before they can be used for this purpose (see here and here).

The levels of fines that can be imposed are specified in a schedule to the General Provisions SI. They range from £20 for lower level penalties paid promptly, up to £105 for late payment of higher level penalties (such as bus lane contraventions, or parking a vehicle on a cycleway).

For a period of 6 months following implementation of enforcement of moving traffic contraventions, at each particular camera location, local authorities should issue warning notices for first-time moving traffic contraventions. This also applies to any new camera location in the future.

There are also restrictions on how any surplus from fines can be used – but unlike funds raised from speed camera fines, which are transferred to central Government, surplus funds from moving traffic enforcement will be kept by the local authority, and must be used for the following purposes:

  • to recoup costs of enforcement;
  • pay for public transport provision;
  • pay for highway improvement projects; or
  • pay for environmental improvements in the authority’s area.

Local Groups Update: New Group for Gatley, Pedestrian Crossings Priority, Election Results + more

Local Groups Update: New Group for Gatley, Pedestrian Crossings Priority, Election Results + more

Warm Welcome to Walk Ride Gatley We’re delighted to reveal our newest group within the Walk Ride family, Walk Ride Gatley. You can meet them and share your ideas on how to improve the community together, as well as signing up to their mailing list 

Local Groups Update: Wins for Walk Ride Blackley, Active Travel Commissioner Visits Whalley Range School Street + more

Local Groups Update: Wins for Walk Ride Blackley, Active Travel Commissioner Visits Whalley Range School Street + more

Welcome to our latest round-up of selected activities and neighbourhood successes achieved by our local Walk Ride group volunteers. Walk Ride Blackley Walk into the Weekend Friday 10 March was the very first ‘Walk into the Weekend’. Initiated by the Walk Ride Blackley team, the 

News: Walk Ride Blackley Helps Secure Safer Steps in Blackley Forest, Launches 20’s Plenty Petition for Blackley Village + More

News: Walk Ride Blackley Helps Secure Safer Steps in Blackley Forest, Launches 20’s Plenty Petition for Blackley Village + More

Walk Ride Blackley has been very active lately in pursuit of healthier, safer, better neighbourhoods to live in.

Blackley Forest Steps

After successful campaigning, new steps have been unveiled at Blackley Forest.

Previously unstable and unsafe (see below), the steps are now fortified with brand new nosing to make sure they’re accessible for more of the area’s residents.

From this –>Stepped access in Blackley Forest before Walk Ride Blackley campaigned for improvements …to this –> Improvements to stepped access in Blackley Forest secured by Walk Ride Blackley

Sign the Petition for Safer Streets

Launched in February 2023, Walk Ride Blackley’s petition to make Blackley Village a 20mph area is already nearing the 300-signature target.

Walk Ride Blackley say:

The residential roads and their footpaths in Blackley Village are narrow and bendy. We also have hundreds of school children and their families using them every day.

There are already 20 miles per hour zones directly outside of the schools – which means 1) drivers have to change their speed several times and 2) most of the children’s way to school is not protected from fast cars.

Additionally, we frequently have races occurring in the area. Petitioning for a 20 miles per hour zone will pave the way for more physical traffic calming measures to stop these races.

The plan is to take the petition back to local councillors and ask for their support to make the area 20mph – and therefore safer for all users, including schoolchildren, everyone walking, wheeling or cycling in the area – and drivers too.

Flower Baskets

Barbara from Walk Ride Blackley has been doing some great work at the junction of Victoria Avenue/Middleton Road.

The guard rail barriers have been improved immeasurably by the addition of flower baskets:

If you’d like to help to improve Blackley, then get involved by contacting walkrideblackley@walkride.org.uk.

Review: Destination Bee Network

Review: Destination Bee Network

On Tuesday 31 January, Walk Ride Greater Manchester hosted a Q&A session with Mayor Andy Burnham, Active Travel Commissioner Dame Sarah Storey, and Transport Commissioner Vernon Everitt, followed by a Walk Ride GM campaign update. Introduced by Claire and chaired by Helen, the event attracted 

Call to Action: Let’s Put Pedestrians First at Crossings

Call to Action: Let’s Put Pedestrians First at Crossings

December 2022 has seen temperatures sink far below zero. With priority being given to gritting roads rather than pavements, this creates hazardous walking environments for people not using a car to make their daily trips to school, shops, and work. Cock-eyed British priorities. I must 

Review: A Cycling Infrastructure Safari

Review: A Cycling Infrastructure Safari

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 as the ‘Bee Network’, a moniker that has since also welcomed public transport under its wing – is underway with spades in the ground on a number of schemes, so a recent RTPI Young Planners event sought to find out how it’s all shaping up.

We teamed up with commuter cyclist, cycle blogger and founding member of Walk Ride Greater Manchester Nick Hubble to take fellow planners on an Infrastructure Safari around some of the new Bee Network routes – and the gaps in between. The idea was to explore the various highway interventions ‘in the wild’, not only to soberly assess them with our professional hat on, but to experience firsthand how various cycling interventions actually feel from a user’s perspective.

A lucky 13 – comprising 11 guests plus Nick and me – set out with our two-wheeled steeds from the long-established Oxford Road cycleway, some of us taking advantage of the new Beryl Bikes docked cycle hire scheme (named after multiple record-breaking cyclist Beryl Burton). We were armed with a simple survey compiled by Nick, asking us all to rate each of 17 stages, with pit stops after each of four legs to debrief and fill in our ratings (out of 5*) and comments.

Bar chart showing how often Safari attendees usually cycle_

Although our relatively small group – seven submitted their survey; three female and four male – hasn’t given us a scientific sample size, we do have an insight into the reactions to the different highway treatments of our participant cohort, whose self-reported cycling frequency spanned the full range from Hardly Ever to Most Days.

Of those who added an explanation of why they didn’t cycle more regularly, one tellingly wrote, “fear of death”. But change is coming. 89 km of routes (from a target of 100 km) were completed last year across Greater Manchester, and the Walking and Cycling Investment Plan January 2020 set a target of 1,800 miles in 10 years. So as we started our ride, it was recognised that the Bee Network, too, is still very much at the start of its journey and that it necessarily still has various gaps between completed schemes. Indeed, some of the more negative responses to sections of the route were perhaps predictable. Nonetheless, this concept of firsthand experience was important to show which stages were deemed better or worse.

Map showing the RTPI Infrastructure Safari event route

Leg 1 was to cross central Manchester. The Oxford Road cycleway, which offers protection along the main carriageway, but not at junctions, scored in 3*s and 4*s, then the shared vehicle carriageway along Peter Street scored mostly in 3*s and a couple deeming it worse. ‘Traffic-free’ Deansgate, currently subject to a mishmash of temporary Emergency Active Travel Funded measures installed during the pandemic, scored mostly in 2*s or below, with one respondent noting the “terrible surfacing issues”. Since the event, Manchester City Council has unveiled plans for Deansgate as part of a wider City Centre Active Travel Scheme consultation, so positive change there is, one hopes, imminent.

Covering the route from Manchester Cathedral to, essentially, the University of Salford, Leg 2 saw a similarly mixed bag of scores. Navigating the littered, potholed and patchily protected Blackfriars/Broughton Cycleway during rush hour earned scores of mostly 2*s and 3*s, before respite in the form of the Trinity Active Neighbourhood (more commonly known as low traffic neighbourhoods or LTNs) collected mostly 4*s, and the short protected – and greened – Oldfield Road Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) bagged 3*s, 4*s, and 5*s.

Onwards to Castlefield via Salford Quays, Leg 3 continued along the ‘wand’-protected Oldfield Road stretch (averaging out at a 3.14* rating) before entering the recently-completed Liverpool Street kerb-protected and chicaned cycle lane, which features bus stop bypasses accessible for pedestrians via mini zebra crossings and secured an average score of 4.14*. Middlewood Street, with its kerbed protection that cedes priority at side junctions, managed almost the same average, while the walking and cycling bridge back across the River Irwell divided opinions from 2* to 5*, albeit with three respondents awarding the maximum. Partway through this Leg, Nick suggested a future safari ride could include the forthcoming protected lanes along Trafford Road, which has the promising prospect of creating a continuous journey from Manchester city centre right up to White City and the Trafford Council border, with concomitant access to Salford’s Media City.

Aerial view of the CYCLOPS junction at Royce Road, Manchester

Finally, we pedalled alongside vehicles along the Chester Road dual carriageway and through its ‘hamburger’-styled roundabout (mostly 3*s and 4*s), then via the completed sections of the Manchester-Chorlton cycleway (a majority of six agreed worthy of a 4* score) to experience the infamous CYCLOPS junction design, which top-scored with five 5* awards. A comedown to the Stretford Road painted cycleway provided a contrasting 2.42* average, before a 3*-average beeline through the Manchester Metropolitan University shared space led us back to our meeting point.

A bonus round asked participants to compare two roundabout treatments on the route – the M602 underpass, and the more recent Medlock Street/Princess Road at-grade crossings. Although the latter gained better individual results, with a couple of 5* ratings, the former didn’t score badly, with predominantly 3*s and 4*s.

So, what did we learn? It’s fair to say that we were riding around an incomplete network; that was understood in advance. Rather, the aim was to understand which highway treatments were more favourable to our guests. Of the protected stages, the CYCLOPS junctions were best received in both ratings and responses to the question of ‘Which piece of infrastructure did you enjoy the most?’. The Medlock Street/Princess Road roundabout and Liverpool Street chicanes were also singled out for praise. On the other hand, paint-only lanes and shared vehicle carriageways were naturally low scorers throughout, whereas routes with poor maintenance – broken glass and potholes were cited in the comments for Deansgate and Blackfriars/Broughton – also came a cropper. 

Key future questions depend on the art of the possible. In one final reflection to the survey, the respondent can now “see new possibilities but only where there is space to work with”. As planners, we play a role in ensuring our schemes contribute positively to the Bee Network, which has set its standards in the Greater Manchester Interim Active Travel Design Guide (March 2021) – notably adding that the national Cycle Infrastructure Design Guide, LTN 1/20 (July 2020), should take precedence in case of conflict. From now on, our delegates’ understanding will also benefit from greater firsthand experience of which treatments contribute to a better riding experience.

An edit of this review has been published on the RTPI website.

Get Involved With the Brand New Annual Walk Ride GM Awards

Get Involved With the Brand New Annual Walk Ride GM Awards

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 

The Greater Manchester Pedestrian Manifesto

The Greater Manchester Pedestrian Manifesto

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 publish open letter to councillors

Walk Ride Blackley publish open letter to councillors

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.

The letter, which is addressed to the nine local councillors who are elected to improve the area in question, states the following:

Improve pedestrian access from Blackley Village to Rochdale Road

To whom it may concern:

As residents of Higher Blackley and Charlestown wards we kindly ask you to consider to improve pedestrian access from Blackley Village, namely Old Market Street towards Rochdale Road/Boggart Hole Clough and the Bus Stop Charlestown Road.

Along this above-mentioned route pedestrians have to cross busy roads at least three times – of which two crossings are neither designated nor protected.

Please see enclosed a map with dangerous crossing points indicated.

Diagram showing a community demand to Pedestrianise access to Rochdale Road Boggart Hole Clough from Old Market Street in Blackley
Diagram showing a community demand to pedestrianise access to Rochdale Road Boggart Hole Clough from Old Market Street in Blackley

We kindly ask you to professionally review the safety, functionality and accessibility for pedestrians of all ages and abilities and improve footpaths and road crossings accordingly – with a specific focus on:

– Crossing Middleton Old Road (to access Rochdale Road from Old Market Street)
– T-Junction Rochdale Road/Charlestown Road (safe access to Bus Stop Charlestown Road and Boggart Hole Clough)

We thank you for your consideration and look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,
Blackley and Charlestown Residents and WalkRide Blackley