Greater Manchester capitalises £5 million fund to enhance safe infrastructure
Posted: 7 May 2020 | Sam Mehmet (Intelligent Transport)
The infrastructure plans aim to enable people to keep their distance for safe essential journeys and exercise during the coronavirus lockdown and through the recovery period.
Greater Manchester’s council leaders have committed to creating enhanced space and infrastructure for pedestrians and people on bikes across the city-region during COVID-19 and beyond.
Brought together under the Safe Streets Save Lives campaign, local authorities are looking to prioritise a range of temporary, pop-up measures such as footway extensions, one-way streets, removing through traffic on certain roads, adding extra cycle lanes and removing street ‘clutter’ like pedestrian guard rail at pinch points.
The emergency changes will be matched to help ease social distancing at specific locations such as areas outside shops, transport hubs or routes to hospitals in the districts, with £5 million of funding made available through the Mayor’s Cycling and Walking Challenge Fund.
Whilst there has been a dramatic fall in traffic volumes of about 60 per cent across Greater Manchester, walking and cycling are said to have played an increasingly important role. They now account for approximately 33 per cent of all journeys, with cycling up 22 per cent compared to pre-lockdown data. These trends have also led to congestion almost being eliminated and significant drops in pollution.
By encouraging the use of sustainable modes of transport and expanding the region’s cycling and walking infrastructure network, Greater Manchester is looking to ‘Build Back Better’ as part of its recovery plans while supporting the ambition to be carbon neutral by 2038 and honour its commitment to become a walking and cycling city-region.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Greater Manchester has been leading the way with our plans to build the largest walking and cycling network in the UK. A number of cities around the world have begun implementing measures to enable safe essential travel and exercise during lockdown. As part of our efforts to Build Back Better in Greater Manchester, we’re taking the same, bold approach – Safe Streets really do Save Lives.
“Peoples’ 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’ 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.”
Greater Manchester is among many other regions/cities looking to pop-up/temporary infrastructure as a way to continue current walking and cycling trends whilst enabling physical distancing as lockdown restrictions begin to ease. To find out more, explore our COVID-19 hub.