Manchester residents are being encouraged to apply to temporarily close their local roads, to create traffic-free spaces for family play sessions and other community activities on their streets.
The call comes ahead of World Car-Free Day - an annual global event which is this year being marked on Sunday 22 September, when cities around the world look to highlight how local roads can be used in different ways and encourage motorists to give up use of their cars for the day.
Following new guidance from the Department for Transport, Manchester City Council is supporting resident-led groups who want to close their local street for a limited time - not just on World Car-Free Day, but year-round. 26 events have already taken place in Manchester this year and a further 73 are currently planned citywide this autumn.
The council is also working with the Department for Transport to make it easier for regular traffic-free events to take place, where local community groups are keen to hold them.
Last weekend, a ‘Sports-tacular’ event organised by local residents and the Brunswick Parish Church in Ardwick benefited from road closures on surrounding streets, allowing outdoor sporting activities ranging from football to netball, plus cycling taster sessions supported by Transport for Greater Manchester and a cycle-maintenance drop-in, allowing local children to have their bikes repaired for free.
Rev Simon Gatenby, rector at Brunswick Church, helped to organise the event, to kick off a fundraising drive for a new sports hall. He said: “It was an amazing day, with more than 200 people attending and different community organisations pulling together as a team to make it happen.
“We planned to showcase different sports within our existing sports hall, but thanks to the road closures, we had extra space to do a lot more. The council were tremendously supportive with the process after we made our request.
“We had a football cage on the street, plus basketball and netball activities. The uptake was very high, which really showed the appetite for sports, which we want to support by creating a new sports hall.
“We have a very diverse community here and we were able to celebrate this through food stalls on the street, all free, serving everything from pakoras to patties.
“A local PCSO offered free cycle maintenance for children and the loan of an e-bike, through Transport for Greater Manchester, allowed people to try out cycling in a safe environment with no traffic.
"We had tremendous feedback, including a request to do it all again next weekend! We probably need a breather first, but would love to hold a similar event in the future."
Executive Member for the Environment, Planning and Transport, Councillor Angeliki Stogia, said: “World Car-Free Day highlights the many benefits of going car-free, such as reducing air pollution and creating a safer environment for walking and cycling, while giving children the opportunity to play right outside their homes.
“It’s the perfect opportunity for people to try leaving the car at home and using one of Manchester’s public transport options, from bus to Metrolink, or riding or walking - which we are keen to promote as part of the city’s ambitious goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2038 at the latest.
“Car-free events can happen on any day of the year. To help create more vibrant neighbourhoods and improve air quality, we will work with residents who want to temporarily close their road for a community event wherever possible. We’re keen for more people to talk to their neighbours and see what ideas they can spark for their own special events.”
Traffic-free events are best suited to residential streets that are not on bus routes and do not have businesses attracting external traffic. It’s important that all local residents and businesses are engaged and supportive of a proposed event.
Once proposed locations are received, the council’s local Neighbourhood team will provide information and support residents through the application process. The council can loan signs, barriers and high visibility clothing to residents free of charge.
If you are interested in organising a temporary road closure to facilitate an event, email firstname.lastname@example.org