The Council and democracy State of the city report 2020

A connected city

Connections are necessary so that people can access work opportunities, education and services, and so that businesses can access markets and their customers. It is only through excellent connectivity that the economy can continue to grow, educational standards can increase, and the city can become more equitable and liveable. Manchester already benefits from strong connections, but is continuing to make improvements through major investment in infrastructure. More people are travelling into the city centre by sustainable transport, but changes are needed to tackle congestion, improve air quality and reduce emissions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced society into making immediate and drastic adaptations to the way people live; these changes have had the biggest impact in cities. Manchester has already accelerated plans to make the city centre more human-centred and less reliant on the use of private motor vehicles by partly closing roads and widening pavements to aid social distancing. These physical adaptations of our built environment are seen as a blueprint for how to enable connectivity in a more sustainable, zero-carbon, people-friendly way.

The transport system is a major source of emissions that are damaging health and contribute to climate change. Manchester is taking action to reduce the harmful levels of pollutants that exist in some areas of the city. This work includes working with the other nine Greater Manchester authorities to develop a Clean Air Plan for the region. The introduction of a Clean Air Zone forms part of the Plan. A 70-75% decrease in traffic volumes during the COVID-19 spring lockdown led to a substantial reduction in nitrogen dioxide concentrations in central Manchester.

Manchester remains at the forefront of work to research, pilot and implement the use of digital technology to transform connectivity and how the city functions. The innovative solutions being developed by the facilities associated with Manchester Science Partnerships along the Oxford Road Corridor have been ground-breaking. Maintaining and enhancing Manchester’s digital infrastructure to ensure high levels of connectivity is critical to sustaining the city’s ambition to be a leading international city.

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