Manchester City Centre is due for a change in speed limits as part of the council and TfGM’s Active Travel Strategy. The decision comes alongside the implementation and expansion of the Bee Network, the London-style scheme which Mayor Andy Burnham hopes will integrate buses, trams and trains into one network, making it cheaper and easier to travel by public transport in Greater Manchester.
The scheme also aims to provide bikes and better cycle paths to encourage cleaner transport, and better pavements and walking routes so locals can easily choose to walk on short journeys.
The council says the decision to drop speed limits to 20mph is primarily for public health reasons, suggesting benefits such as less pollution, better fuel efficiency and fewer crashes. Endorsed by Dame Sarah Storey, Vernon Everitt, and Andy Burnham, the Active Travel Strategy includes encouraging more active home-to-school travel for children and teachers, closing roads near schools to reduce pollution and making walking to school more appealing.
The local authority also wants to focus on making roads safer for cyclists, and is aiming to double the proportion of trips by bike within five years.
The TfGM Greater Manchester Active Travel Mission states: “Active Travel Commissioner, Dame Sarah Storey, has unveiled a refreshed active travel mission for Greater Manchester focusing on accessibility, behaviour change and clear communications.”
We’ve seen some permanent changes that came out of the pandemic, including the pedestrianisation of some areas of the city such as Stevenson Square, now open to certain bus routes, and plans for the pedestrianisation of other busy Manchester streets and areas such as Deansgate. The Mayor wants to see these changes as a cohesive scheme to improve general wellbeing in Manchester and to make it the best place to live in the UK.
In a Q&A with with campaigners Walk Ride GM, Andy Burnham said about the state of transport in Greater Manchester: “We are in a transition right now. The engrained culture in Greater Manchester is car use, our job is bigger than in London. It’s a bigger hearts and minds job here. We are leading change.”