Velocity

We still face the almost impossible challenge of meeting the transport aspirations of every road user . . .

Even when all the current highways infrastructure work is finished, the Council is still going to face an almost impossible challenge of meeting the transport aspirations of every road user and that's largely because the city is built on a historic legacy of an enormous network of relatively narrow roads. That's one of the reasons we have been investing so much in improving public transport.

One even half-full bus or tram takes significantly less road space than the equivalent number of cars and creates far less air pollution. If at peak times, we could get many people off the roads who don't need to use their cars then that would make journeys far smoother and more reliable for those that do.

Air quality is a growing concern and walking and cycling are both pretty much zero emission so we need to promote these as much as possible. Transport often leads to quite hostile and polarised debates, and I'm often accused of being anti-car or anti-bike, neither of which are true. This is not one form of transport versus another - it's how we make the best use of a limited and constrained resource. I'm a commuter cyclist but on occasions, for example this Tuesday when I had an evening meeting in Moss Side, it is far more convenient to use the car. So I do.

However, we do need to try to make cycling easier and safer, hence the very extensive works on the Wilmslow Road corridor. These works have been funded by central government under a scheme, called 'Velocity', where the money can only be used for investment in cycling. It is an attempt to introduce good practice from elsewhere in Europe to improve conditions here. It is not some wild experiment as there is lots of evidence that this approach does work elsewhere.

However, at the moment it doesn't seem to be working here, although it is still a bit difficult to judge as many of the current problems are caused by the works themselves rather than by the finished product. What we must do as the work is finished is to take the issues raised by many road users very seriously, fully evaluate the impact of the scheme and if necessary make changes.

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