Manchester City Council


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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There are 7 responses to “Velocity”

  1. Not fooled Says:

    So if Manchester is built on a " historic legacy of an enormous network of relatively narrow roads" then surely gridlock is the predictable result when you throw up endless tower block buildings in every conceivable space a bid to attract more and more people in to the city?
    A child could understand you simply can't have it both ways.
    Rather than rushing to copy the hell hole that is London surely the best alternative is to try learn from it?
    Then answer is surely more creative ways of working than "9 to 5" rather than just creating "more of the same?"

  2. Daniel Says:

    Sir Richard,

    As you've identified in your posting, the large number of cars coming into the city centre are causing the congestion and air pollution, which harms other transport users and local residents. You are improving public transport and cycling via various schemes which is great, but I think there also needs to be direct action taken to reduce the number of cars.

    8 years ago the council held a vote on the congestion charge (and lost). In contrast, Ken Livingstone as London mayor introduced the congestion charge without a vote. Whilst controversial at the time, I don't think any mainstream London politician would now argue against it. I believe you and your council should consider introducing this in Manchester city centre without a vote. This would aid many of your transport objectives, and if it cannot be done at a time when all 95 Manchester councillors are Labour, it makes me worry that it will never be introduced.

  3. Didsbury resident Says:

    I realise it's not the key issue but he quality of the work on Wilmslow road has been particularly poor. Where cycle lanes have been created they have not been made level meaning that curbs and pavements are now easily flooded with the slightest rain. The fact that the main part of the road hasn't been resurfaced between withington and dids village means that cars now swerve to miss the many many pot holes and as the road is now much less wide, an accident is inevitable. Who has signed it off and why when it is obvious to see that it is a substandard job? Also unclear how (previously necessary and regular) street cleaning machines will now access curbs within the cycle lanes.

  4. Anon Says:

    I guess sometimes the best practice found elsewhere doesn't transfer well because of cultural factors. For examples, Home Zones of residential streets without pavements or markings should slow down car drivers and make the street safer, but not for walkers with poor vision. Equally, drivers in many other countries are much more considerate to walkers. Cross a road in Spain or Canada - you will feel much safer. And Wilmslow Road is a student village, without cyclists of all ages to temper the dafter impulses and certainties of youth, mixed with the British car driver who is at the sociopath end of the drivers of the world spectrum.

  5. Franky Says:

    I agree that the Manchester air is almost poison, I would, like to see the centre almost vehicle free so that shoppers and workers could enjoy the clean air.

  6. Ian Says:


    The ability to vote is at the centre of our culture and trying to force through a congestion charge would see the end of any Councilior who agreed to this.

    The vote was lost by a vast percentage of the votors of GM.

    I sometimes wonder if MCC is trying to get this through again with all these road works causing hugh delays.

    Just wonder after Oxford road closes were do the cars go which road will they force to a stand still with this great plan of buses only on the main road into Manchester.

  7. Matt Says:

    "One even half-full bus or tram takes significantly less road space than the equivalent number of cars and creates far less air pollution." - yes Richard, but one half full car will definitely turn up and leave on time rather than not appear without explanation or apology. And in general will include much fewer stinking people sat nearby. If you want to get people on public transport, make public transport better rather than making private transport untenable.



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

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