A new updated transport strategy for Manchester city centre, setting out how walking, cycling and public transport trips will be prioritised over the coming decades, is open for public consultation.
The strategy, developed jointly by Manchester City Council, Salford City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester, outlines how the city centre’s streets can be best managed with the goals of further improving the city's public transport network, making walking the predominant mode of travel within the city centre and reducing dependency on car journeys.
The strategy’s central aim is for 90 per cent of all trips into the city centre to be made on foot, by cycle or using public transport before 2040. This will help to reduce air pollution and contribute to Manchester’s ambitious goal of becoming a zero-carbon city by 2038 at the latest.
The consultation, giving the public their chance to have their say on the plan, is open until Wednesday 4 November.
Seven ambitions to improve city centre travel are outlined:
- The city centre is more attractive for walking
- The city centre is cleaner and less congested
- More people choose to cycle to destinations within the city centre
- The city centre benefits from better public transport connections
- Parking is smarter and integrated with other modes
- Goods are moved and delivered sustainably and efficiently to and within the city centre
- Innovation is embraced where it benefits the city centre and its users
The draft strategy prioritises walking routes, followed by cyclists, public transport and finally motor vehicle traffic. It is aligned with wider efforts across the city region to develop recovery strategies in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, supporting a strong and sustainable recovery for the city.
It proposes fresh investment in creating more attractive walking routes and public spaces, making it safer and easier to cross streets and catering for everyone, no matter what their age or mobility needs. This investment would build on the successful transformation of St Peter’s Square and the redevelopment of Albert Square, which is taking place as part of the ongoing Our Town Hall project.
A key proposal is to formalise the current traffic-free trial along part of Deansgate, permanently making it a more attractive street for pedestrians, a move which would be subject to a separate consultation.
The strategy also sets out how the city centre’s cycle network can be enhanced, to support the growing numbers of people opting to travel into and through the city by bike - with projects including the Northern Quarter ‘busy-beeway’ and Manchester to Chorlton cycling and walking route already underway. The development of an integrated city centre walking and cycling “Triangle” is being proposed, formed around three major routes - Deansgate, Whitworth Street West and the Northern Quarter busy-beeway.
The number of vehicles entering the city centre has declined over the last 10 years and the aspiration is for this trend to continue. Where trips by cars or goods vehicles are required, a push will be made for them to be cleaner, lower-polluting vehicles, in line with the region’s commitments to improve air quality and work towards a net-zero carbon future.
The draft strategy is aligned with the 2040 Greater Manchester Transport Strategy - which aims for 50 per cent of all journeys in the region to be taken by public transport, bike or on foot - and with the findings of an initial Manchester City Centre Strategy Transport Conversation, which was held in autumn 2018.
90 per cent of 3,700 respondents to that conversation identified air quality as an important issue, while 80 per cent agreed that improving public transport, cycling and walking would be the best way to reduce air pollution. Some 70 per cent of respondents said that reducing traffic levels would be the best way to create a high-quality city centre.
The previous City Centre Transport Strategy, which was adopted in 2010, led to successful schemes including the Second City Metrolink crossing, Oxford Road bus and cycle enhancements, the redevelopment of St Peter’s Square and the Ordsall Chord scheme to provide a direct rail connection between Piccadilly and Victoria stations.
Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for the Environment, Planning and Transport, Councillor Angeliki Stogia, said: "As Manchester continues on the road to recovery from the pandemic and plans for growing numbers of city centre jobs and homes, more than ever, a strategy is required to guide the future of transport in the region's capital.
"This ambitious strategy envisions a well-connected, zero-carbon city centre at the heart of the North, offering residents, workers and visitors a great place to live, work and visit.
“It reflects the thousands of voices — including residents, commuters, and business and interest groups — who’ve contributed to years of discussion and consultation about how they want to travel into and around the city centre.
“What’s emerged is a strategy that reflects the strongest calls - for more and better space for pedestrians and bikes, more sustainable travel options that keep the air clean and cut carbon, less congestion, improvements in public transport, parking and deliveries that don’t choke our streets and air, plus smart use of new technology to help make all of this happen.
“We’re excited to invite everyone to get on board and have their say on this bold, environment-enhancing strategy for a cleaner, sustainable, inclusive Manchester.”
Councillor Roger Jones, Executive Support Member for Transport at Salford City Council said: “It is important we have a vision for the future and not let the way we travel around the city centre area develop in an uncontrolled way.
“This strategy is a partnership approach and sets out ideas of how the city centre area can be best managed for all - with a special emphasis on cycling and walking and aiming for a cleaner, greener future.
“We have worked hard with colleagues at Manchester City Council and Transport for Greater Manchester on this latest update and would invite people to have their say and help shape the future of travelling in our forward-thinking cities.”
Councillor Mark Aldred, Chair of the Greater Manchester Transport Committee, said: “Greater Manchester is growing and evolving, and this strategy looks to the future and how we can actively create a successful, resilient and thriving city centre.
“Our vision for Greater Manchester is that by 2040, half of all journeys in the city-region will be made by walking, cycling and public transport.
“As we look to build back cleaner and greener from the coronavirus pandemic, we need to ensure that our transport network can meet the changes in demand, provide accessible and better integrated services and play a big part in our journey to zero-carbon by 2038.
“We want to hear from everyone to bring about the strategy’s positive changes together and ensure that modern, active transport is prioritised in one of the most dynamic cities and economies in the UK.”
To find out more and take part in the consultation, go to www.manchester.gov.uk/consultations. A posted copy of the materials can be requested by calling 0161 244 1100.