More space for cycling and walking in Manchester with £5m fund

Emergency temporary measures in Greater Manchester to create enhanced space for cyclists and pedestrians after the Covid-19 lockdown are to be introduced.

Plans across the region's 10 local authorities include footway extensions, one-way streets, removing through traffic on certain roads, adding extra cycle lanes and removing "street clutter" such as barriers.

Parts of the normally busy Deansgate in Manchester city centre are already temporarily closed to traffic with proposed shared spaces for pedestrians and cyclists to aid social distancing as shops and offices reopen.

Traffic volumes in Greater Manchester have nosedived by about 60% since the lockdown but walking and cycling have accounted for a third of all journeys, with cycling up 22%.

A total of £5 million of funding will be made available for the measures from Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham's Cycling and Walking Challenge Fund.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham Credit: PA

Mr Burnham said: "People's travel behaviour across our city region has transformed during lockdown.

"As more people turn to walking and cycling we want that to continue as we move into life beyond lockdown.

"That's why we've proposed measures, backed by up to £5 million of funding, to create space which allows people to continue making safe, sustainable journeys.

"Whatever peoples's motivation - these choices are contributing to cleaning up our city's air and causing less congestion on our roads, and that's something we must sustain for the immediate future."

Olympic cycling gold medallist Chris Boardman Credit: PA

Olympic cycling gold medallist Chris Boardman, the region's cycling and walking commissioner, said: "Like any successful response to a crisis, people must be the priority.

"And fortunately the data is unambiguous. During lockdown more and more residents across Greater Manchester are turning to walking and cycling for essential journeys and exercise.

"So in order to give people the space they need to keep safe, the only real question was: 'How soon can we act?'

"If we don't take steps to enable people to keep travelling actively, we risk a huge spike in car use as measures are eased.

"Not only is it the right thing to do to protect people now but it's vital to meet our clean air goals and protect our NHS long-term."

Credit: PA

Councillor Angeliki Stogi, Manchester City Council's executive member for environment, planning and transport, said: "When the essential lockdown measures start to be lifted, we need to make sure that there is more space for people to walk in the city centre and busy district centres.

"That's why we're planning these changes, which will aid the economy in its recovery, boost air quality and contribute to the city's ambitious target of becoming zero-carbon by 2038 at the latest.

"Temporarily closing part of Deansgate to traffic will help us to understand the benefits of such a measure.

"Our aspiration is that it could become a permanent change but it's important to stress that this would only happen after an open conversation to give all residents, businesses and other affected parties the chance to have their say."