Manchester City Council

Traffic and the City Centre

This post is very much linked to last week's on clean air. We are in the process of updating the City Centre Transport Strategy  but long standing objectives have been to reduce vehicular traffic ( we will have a number of car free days this year ), create far more pedestrian dominated spaces ( like the pedestrianisation of all of Albert Square except the Princess St side ), and eliminate through traffic altogether.

That's where the IRR ( Inner Relief Road ) comes in. Instead of going through the city centre, this is designed to take traffic round it, although this doesn't apply to pedestrians or cyclists who we do expect to go through rather than round.  Ideally we would like to divert traffic as far out as possible, round the M60 or the Ring Road, but that's not possible for all traffic.


And we don't want people driving round the city centre unnecessarily looking for somewhere to park. We want to move parking closer to the IRR to reduce the amount of unnecessary traffic penetration into the core of the city. Although it's only intended for the short term, the proposal to use Central Retail Park as a car park is wholly consistent with this, it's already laid out as a car park,  and it will save council tax payers money.


And let's be clear we're not planning to ban cars, though we do want to make them much cleaner and to be used less, but, for a whole range of reasons, many people need to use a car. Public transport doesn't offer a 24/7 go anywhere service, and not everybody can or wants to ride a bike. 


Of course this only works if traffic can get round the IRR, and if it can't it will start to rat run through backstreets. Great Ancoats Street is part of the IRR and this had to be taken into account when designing an improvement scheme that runs from Oldham Road to Old Mill Street, a scheme that doesn't increase but does maintain capacity. Bikes aren't being ignored, with significant investment in quicker, safer routes running parallel on both sides.


However, this length of Great Ancoats Street does have a  very different character to most of the IRR and that character is changing with far more people living on either side of it -  but it is still a crucial part of diverting traffic from the city centre. 


It's a street with a poor pedestrian accident rate, and the Great Ancoats Street scheme is principally about tackling that, making it easier and safer for pedestrians, who along with disabled people are top of our hierarchy of road users, to cross the road. The scheme will also improve the physical appearance but, and it bears repetition, the primary purpose is so people can safely cross the road.

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

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