You may not have heard about the public consultation regarding the latest Greater Manchester Transport Plan, probably because local authorities like to keep consultations low-key to avoid having to take ordinary people’s views on board. You may see this as a bad thing, but just take a moment to think about who you perceive to be the “Ordinary person.” If it has managed to escape your attention, the plan can be found here.
The report makes the usual references to cycle infrastructure and trying to create a modal shift away from the car. The cycle plans are largely vague and involve opening up parts of the public right of way network to bikes. Interestingly there are also promises of a “Core cycle network implemented locally,” allowing users to “Cycle with ease, convenience and safety.” I am slightly concerned that the people writing this believe that the bits of existing cycle infrastructure in Manchester believe that they are also easy, convenient and safe when in fact they are difficult to use, inconvenient and actively dangerous. Generally the report acknowledges the benefits of producing a pro-cycling culture but the proposals go nowhere near far enough to produce it.
The report mentions marketing several times, both to encourage people not to make pointlessly short car journeys, not to kill or maim anyone whilst making those pointlessly short journeys and to consider cycling, walking or getting a bus. I get the impression that a large part of Manchester’s Local Transport Plan will take the form of billboards and local radio ads.
Interestingly the report suggests the installation of better bicycle parking at Metrolink stations to encourage multi-modal transport whilst ignoring the elephant in the room; the replacement of bike-friendly trains with bike-hostile Metrolink, such as is currently underway on the Oldham Loop railway line.
The most interesting part of the report for me was the statistics for Greater Manchester:
- 70% of journeys into the city centre in the morning rush are made by public transport, walking or cycling.
- 33% of households in Greater Manchester have no car.
- 48% of Manchester households are car-free.
- Morning rush-hour travel into the city centre by car has decreased by 15% over the past 10 years
- 80% of cars observed on “Key,” commuter routes have a single occupant.
- In the satellite towns around Manchester (Ashton, Rochdale, Stockport etc) the car is used for 60% of journeys into town.
- 15% of people commuting by car travel less than 2 km (just over a mile).
- 30% of people commuting by car travel less than 5 km (just over 3 miles).
- 30% of Greater Manchester’s carbon dioxide emissions are from transport.
- An estimated 2,000 people per year (50,000 nationally) will die prematurely in Greater Manchester due to the effects of air pollution from transport.
- 9,000 people were reported injured by Greater Manchester motorists last year.
- 794 of those were killed or seriously injured.
The plan does include provisions to increase or maintain car dependency, such as widening the M60 westbound to increase the volume of congestion and introducing various hard-shoulder running schemes at various parts of the motorway. It also suggests allocating city centre parking for short stay use only to encourage people to use other transport modes, I would suggest removing town centre parking at street level entirely and either widening pavements or introducing Dutch-style cycle infrastructure, but there is no reference to anything like this in the report.
Lastly, the report acknowledges that as the safety of the road network has increased (apparently), the main cause of incidents is now driver behaviour. Sadly they plan to deal with this with re-education and marketing. Perhaps ASBOs could be used to exclude these people from driving in Greater Manchester instead? If you want to respond to the consultation, the form is here.