Manchester City Council

The Evil Empire

Three things motivating this piece. Had to be in Warrington for just before 10am so naturally biked into town, took the train from Oxford Road to Warrington Central, had a pleasant walk across the town centre to the Village Hotel, arriving fresh and having got some work done on the way. Conversely I could have driven and instead arrived frazzled and probably no quicker having "enjoyed" the M60 and M62. I was there to speak to the NW Flood Defence conference, very topical, about climate change adaptation, transport of course being one of the big contributors to global warming. Lastly, though I know Twitter is not necessarily the place to go for informed opinion, I was astonished over the weekend, to see that the City Council, or maybe even me personally, is waging an evil, yes evil, war on cars.

Just to be clear on where I'm coming from, I own a car. I don't do a lot of miles, around 4000 a year. I've not driven since the weekend, and probably won't drive again until next weekend. I also cycle, use buses, trams and trains, walk. For any particular journey I use whichever mode of transport suits me best at the time. For many, the car provides safety or independence or both. Some people even enjoy driving, and our economy still very much depends on the car - especially for locations poorly served by public transport, for early mornings and late nights. Having said that we do need to reduce car use. Get more people car sharing. Get far, far more children walking to school. We do have to reduce car speeds in residential areas. We will all have come across the drivers who think it's ok to do 40mph+ in residential areas because they're such good drivers, but it doesn't matter how good a driver you are, if you're doing 40mph and a child runs out, you can't stop.

Of course, these aren't the only inconsiderate/dangerous road users. Sadly it's very rare when I cycle into town not to see at least one other cyclist behaving inconsiderately or dangerously, And one of my first observations 35years ago, when I first moved to Manchester, was of the willingness of Mancs to step out into moving traffic without looking.

What Manchester attempts to have is a balanced transport policy. There is a hierarchy of road users with pedestrians at the top. We try to give greater priority to those who live or work in a place than to those simply passing through. We do encourage people to walk, cycle or switch to public transport as far as possible because it is more sustainable, and we are investing to improve quality and capacity. ( On my train to Warrington this morning I got a seat and was able to work. I might not have been so lucky if I was coming the other way). A balanced transport system has to have a place for the car, it just shouldn't, as it once was, be dominated by the car.

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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