Council publishes road map for ambitious Active Travel plans

  • Thursday 2 February 2023

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Map of the proposed active travel network for Manchester.

The proposed active travel network.

Manchester City Council is to set out a bold and ambitious strategy which seeks to dramatically increase the number of people using Active Travel across Manchester.

It is the Council’s view that everybody in Manchester should be able to walk, wheel or cycle as part of their everyday lives – for school, work, shopping and socialising, in safety, comfort and happiness.

As a result the Council has been developing the Manchester Active Travel Strategy and Investment Plan (MATSIP) to achieve this goal.

Therefore, a target has been set to make walking the natural choice for short journeys and that the mode share* of people cycling in the city will double by 2028.

Other key ambitions within this strategy include:

  • Making walking the natural choice for short journeys.
  • Reducing the default speed limit in the city to 20mph, and reduce 40mph speed limits to 30mph by 2028 where justified and consistent with road safety.
  • Deliver one school street per ward by 2028.
  • Enable at least 70% of primary school and 40% of secondary school pupils to walk or cycle to school by 2028.
  • Remove all access barriers to walking and cycling paths which prevent access to non-standard cycles by 2024.
  • This is a key part of the Council’s desire to create an inclusive and accessible Active Travel network.

The draft MATSIP will set out the significant benefits that Active Travel will bring across a range of policy areas including public health, clean air and zero carbon.

Four broad aims have been set that will allow the Council to measure the success of this plan.

They are:

  • Improving access to the city centre, district centres, parks and other key destinations.
  • Enabling safe access to schools and colleges.
  • Improving citywide health and wellbeing.
  • Reflecting the diversity of Manchester and addressing transport inequalities.

A solid base already exists on which the Council can grow this plan. In Manchester walking is the dominant mode of transport for journeys under 2km, with 59% of journeys being made this way (based on figures from 2021). Currently cycling has a 6% share for all journeys in the city, a figure which the Council aims to grow to 12% by 2028.

As well as working with partners across Greater Manchester on how this plan can be developed, the Council also reached out to communities in Manchester to learn what their priorities were.

One of the most cited barriers to people walking, wheeling or cycling was the speed and volume of traffic – with 64% of respondents mentioning this problem.

Additionally 53% said crossing busy roads and junctions was a barrier, and 42% citing the poor physical condition of pavements.

When exploring solutions to the above barriers, 70% of respondents suggested creating segregated spaces for cyclists, 53% suggested putting filters in place to create low-traffic streets, and 38% thought level surfaces and dropped kerbs would remove barriers.

These proposals on the MATSIP will be heard by Councillors on the Environment and Climate Change Scrutiny Committee on February 9, before going before the Council’s Executive on February 15.

Updated July 4 - Download the accessible Manchester Active Travel Strategy 

Councillor Tracey Rawlins, Executive Member for Environment and Transport said:

“Active Travel is one of the most important policies in recent memory that Manchester City Council has proposed.

“We know how important it will be in not only creating a greener and less polluted city – contributing to our goal of becoming zero carbon by 2038 or earlier - but in shaping our neighbourhoods to become more vibrant and safer, as well as improving health across generations.

“School safety also plays an incredibly important part in the work we are doing. Providing safe and accessible spaces for our young residents is something the Council is eager to work on as in many areas schools lie at the heart of our communities.

“Most importantly, this work will be inclusive and we will work hard to make sure that every one of our residents is represented. Our city is for everyone to enjoy and it is crucial that no one is left behind for any reason. We must work tirelessly to identify barriers that get in the way of active travel ensure that Active Travel works for everyone.

Councillor Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council said:

“We want Manchester to be one of the best places in the country to live and work. That means attractive, green, and connected neighbourhoods with safe streets which prioritise residents.

“Running alongside Greater Manchester’s launch of the Bee Network we feel this policy puts detail on Manchester City Council’s long-running ambition to make sure our roads our safer and that air pollution can be tackled.” 

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