The money for the active neighbourhood trials comes from the ‘Mayor’s Challenge Fund’, which is being used to implement a Greater Manchester-wide high quality walking and cycling network.
The Fund is for the purpose of designing a Greater Manchester wide walking and cycling network which, when completed, will be one of the largest in the world.
The GM Bee Network project, headed by Chris Boardman recognises that previous attempts to improve walking and cycling through infrastructure has failed – it has not enabled the shift to walking and cycling from car use that it was supposed to. That’s because it’s been of poor quality, not following examples of places that have managed that shift. So the MCF only hands out money according to strict criteria that meets international best practice.
One of the key criteria is the ’12 year old on a bike test’.
On busy main roads, such as the A6, international best practice shows that you need to physically separate cyclists from motor vehicles with segregated cycle tracks. Would you want your 12 year old relative cycling on the A6 with anything less?
But that’s just part of the picture. Most local journeys in Levenshulme and Burnage are not on those main roads, but on the quieter ones. We need a walking and cycling infrastructure network that caters for those journeys too.
Otherwise, as London experienced with their Cycle Superhighway schemes, the main beneficiaries will be commuters accessing the city centre. What about the parents taking their children to school, what about the journey to the mosque, and what about local shopping?
There’s not the space on most of our streets to put in segregated cycle lanes, especially since most of our street space is used for car parking. So you have to manage car movements in a way that will make that 12 year old comfortable enough to cycle on the road to school. International best practice shows that neither traffic calming nor one way streets achieve that if traffic volume is too high.
The only way is to prevent rat running is through the use of ‘modal filters’ – so that only people actually driving on each street are the ones driving to that street.
How many modal filters you use in an area depends on the volume of traffic going down each through road. Unfortunately, where we live, every through road has too much traffic for comfortable cycling, and so all back streets require filtering.
So there’s no scenario where our community will gain from £2.5 million of improvements for walking and cycling without the widespread use of modal filters.
Our local councillors all know that. Unfortunately, they keep telling people (or at least heavily implying) that’s not the case, in a bid to quell opposition from a vocal minority, rather than take arguments head on.
There’s two interrelated problems with that strategy: 1 – it’s dishonest. Our campaign believes that you must win people over with conviction and confidence. 2 – people here are smart, and will record everything you say to discredit both you and the project in the future.
Please, stop messing the community about. We have a fantastic opportunity to make a huge difference to physical and mental health, to reduce transport-related inequalities, and to do our bit to stop the worst of climate change.
Be brave and make these arguments, and ensure that the project you started – which was a brilliant and brave thing to do – is successful. Thank you.
Streets for People, Levenshulme and Burnage are proud to unvail our new leaflet and poster, which we will post through every door in the low traffic neighbourhood trial area.
We’re asking for participation from our supporters to distribute the leaflets. If you can, please email email@example.com with the names of the roads you would like deliver leaflets to (Covid secure instructions will be provided).
Printing thousands of leaflets costs money, and our group has no source of funding. Therefore, we have launched a Go Fund Me campaign to raise £1000 for materials. Please go here to donate, and please share the link with your friends and family: https://uk.gofundme.com/f/poster-levenshulme-amp-burnage?
Finally, here is a link to the poster iteself, for printing at home:
“Roads are blocked to cars” is a statement we hear at least once a day about the active neighbourhood scheme, and yet it is clear from the map that anywhere a car can access before, it will still be able to.
But access to where? From where?
What the concern is for many is that they may have to find new routes out of their street, a concern that is valid. The Council can still do more to signpost how people’s driving patterns will have to change should they be unable to shift to cycling or walking. Even if we do walk and cycle more, some trips will still be made by car, and that’s alright.
To address these access concerns, and give people a clearer idea of how the overall scheme will look, Streets for People have created a colour coded “Access Map” that allows you to see where you will have to exit your street. We have also added in ALL street names, and even a couple of streets, that were missing.
Closer to the start of the trial, when filters have been finalised, it should be possible to create a visualisation that shows, where certain streets have a filter in the middle, which house numbers are on which side. This will particularly help delivery drivers and others whose work means lots of visits to different houses where it cannot be done without a car . This would be much better done through the official channels, but in absence of that Streets for People want to ensure there is no uneccessary delay due to lost drivers.
Access all areas: Google maps
Another issue, and often the reason there is so much through traffic on side roads, is navigation apps. Other active neighbourhoos schemes have found it takes Google Maps up to 6 weeks to update road closures, which could cause problems for anyone using GPS well into the trial. We would ask the council to consider contacting Google in advance of the trial to inform them of road closures.
Streets for People are going to begin to submit reports to google of the planned road closures prior to and immediately after installation, mentioning the date in case google decide to jump the gun. The more people report it the more likely they are to update, and the more we can avoid uneccesary congestion.
Here’s a handy video guide on how it works once you load up Google Maps. This uses Marley Road/Stockport Road filter location as an example but the process is similar for all of them. Google does not differentiate between a junction closure and a road closure, so you will have to specify a junction in your comment.
We hope this helped you understand a little bit more about the way the trial will work, and how you can still get to and from your residence. Streets for People are continuing to analyse the proposed plans and will be giving you more information soon.
If you want the full high quality version it is in downloadable PNG form below. Please report any mistakes! We’ve already identified a few places where roads were missing from the original map but there’s always room for improvement.
This map will have its own place on the site soon, but feel free to share (with credit). The more people see this map the more informed they will be about the upcoming scheme. We will make sure to update if the council make any changes!
Statement from Streets for People – Levenshulme and Burnage organising group
Streets for People are pleased to see lots of engagement with Manchester City Council’s feedback site for the filtered neighbourhood plans for Levenshulme and North Burnage. We understand that residents in these areas are also receiving brochures, and there are plans for Webinars, public meetings, or similar.
However, we are concerned with some of the quality of the engagement material, and apparent delays in reaching residents. We have been told that the Project Manager has quit, leaving his boss in charge, and this explains many of the delays and mistakes in the project, including engagement. We were always worried about the amount of work being asked of the Project Manager (who was also responsible for several other high profile schemes), and it now appears that the pressures on him led to his resignation.
We believe that the Project Manager situation is illustrative of Manchester City Council not putting in the financial and personnel resources required for a successful project, including the much-needed funding of School Street trials. Too much of the engagement work has fallen on too few shoulders, with many of the tasks performed by already overstreched neighbourhood officers, and in some cases, councillors themselves.
Yes, the Covid situation has made everything more difficult, but social distancing requirements mean more space for pedestrians is a priority, not something that should fall down the agenda, as recent national and local government statements have made clear.
Furthermore, while we agree that all residents should have as much information about the trials as possible, and opportunities to influence the details of the trial, we do not understand the purpose of collecting positive and negative feedback on the trials as whole prior to them taking place. Commenting on individual filter or crossing locations clearly makes sense, but the purpose of the ‘Have Your Say on the Scheme Overall’ section is less apparent.
Anyone glancing at the existing comments will see over 400 comments, balanced largely between extreme support and extreme opposition. We don’t think that adequately reflects the views of the community. It’s likely that many want to see the trials in action before they make their minds up either way, or have become tired of responding again and again to such similar questions.
There are also a number of questions regarding this engagement (consultation?) process:
How will responses, including the ‘have your say on the scheme overall’ play into shaping transport policy in Levenshulme and Burnage? It is simply a listening exercise, or will it stand in favour of, or detriment to, creating a ‘filtered neighbourhood’? What does a successful engagement look like?
How will the many thousands of responses already collected in previous consultation responses to this project, including previous Commonplace exercises, public meetings, meetings with schools and community groups, and postal responses, feature in any such evaluation?
It appears that the Commonplace site has been subject to spamming from all sides. How will the Council account for that? It is easy to set up new email addresses, fake postal addresses and fake IP addresses. How do the Council know comments received are genuine?
Similarly, postal forms are completely anonymised. What’s to stop highly motivated individuals from submitting multiple forms, thus skewing results one way or the other?
When will the public meetings take place? They need to happen soon.
Clearly, there will have to be a formal consultation on the scheme conducted in the fullness of time. The only sure way to ensure that it is fair and representative is to give each person on the electoral and/or council tax registers one feedback form each, with provision for those not on the register for whatever reason to have their say as well, and once everyone has had the opportunity to experience the changes first hand, following a period of bedding-in.
It would be a tragedy if, after all of these maps, announcements, online questionnaires, street clutter surveys, postcards, public meetings, meetings with schools, places of worship and community groups, and emails and collective letters to councillors, that the real voice of the community is not heard.
Streets for People are clear that we are in favour of the scheme going ahead, but that it is crucial to generate as much feedback as possible from as wide a section of the community as possible to ensure that it best serves the community.
Thursday 8th October is Clean Air Day, a national day to promote clean air initiatives and encourage people to think about what they can do themselves. What small steps can you take to to reduce pollution where you live? Clean air is something which we all value, but too often taken for granted. We know from research that 30% of all car journeys are less than 1km, a distance that can be walked in less than 15 minutes, and a 60% of car trips are less than 2km, which can be cycled in less than 10 minutes. If we got half of these people walking or cycling it would result in a 30% drop in car use.
Just think how much cleaner our air would be.
Our Friends at Clean Air Levenshulme have created a petition for school Head teachers and local Councillors to ask them to support Clean Air Day and also take steps to help people to reduce their carbon use and make our streets healthier and more pleasant.
If you are a parent please add your name and the school that your children attend to their open letter at this link.
There is more information about Clean Air Day on their website (www.cleanairday.org.uk). Everyone has a part to play and we challenge you to think of one way that you can help to reduce pollution or take steps to help others reduce their carbon foot print on Thursday 8th October.
Can you walk or cycle for one less journey?
Share a journey with somebody else?
Walk to school with some friends?
Take public transport instead of driving?
There are plenty of ways that everyone can get involved and help clean up our air again. Why not Tweet your pledge #CleanAirDay and inspire others as well?
For more info about Clean Air Levenshulme and what they do you can follow them on Twitter @LevyCleanAir
Schoolchildren denied their own school safety measures.
It’s the report Manchester City Council didn’t want you to see, which has been sat on by Manchester City Council since 4 June 2020.
The leaked report contains details of extensive consultation done at both primary and secondary schools in Levenshulme and Burnage. The local community, parents and pupils themselves had a key role in designing measures that would benefit them.
The report makes clear that many more school children would prefer to walk or cycle to school than are currently able to. School streets and traffic reduction across the neighbourhood is needed to allow them to do that.
The initial six schools were:
Chapel Street Primary School
St Andrew’s Primary School
Acacias Primary School
Cringle Brook Primary School
St Mary’s Primary School
Alma Park Primary School
Draft designs for each school have been produced, but in common across all six is the need for wider measures beyond school streets themselves, with Low traffic Neighbourhoods and filtering allowing safe travel the entire school commute route. It also allows “park and stride” projects to take place, where children travel to school in a “walking school bus”.
The report states, “plans for initial street trials were cancelled due to Covid-19 and draft designs will be shared online for further feedback.”
Further meetings to discuss tweaks to designs took place between Sustrans, the Levenshulme Bee Network project team and six schools with provisional dates discussed to trial school streets with all six schools in July. Next steps were being planned along with wider consultation of the individual school plans on commonplace with the community. This further feedback should be already taking place, enabling some form of school streets to be implemented from September, with the renewed need for space due to social distancing guidelines. Instead we heard nothing.
Each school has a “proposals map” with clear school street closure, cycling infrastructure and traffic calming plans, along with a plan on how to trial these measures. All the pieces were in place to make our streets safer for these six schools, and still nothing has been done. In fact, one of these areas, containing Alma park and St Mary’s, has had their plans pushed back even further. Is this fair? We’ve seen rising traffic outside of schools and rising Covid cases within them. Something has to be done, and the plans are there to do it. What is the blockage?
To our knowledge, very little of that work is taking place, and, in private conversations, councillors keep wanting to separate the issue of School Streets from the Levenshulme and North Burnage Active Neighbourhood (as the Low Traffic Neighbourhood project is now called).
It’s good to restrict access to motor vehicles outside schools, but without giving parents and kids safe and comfortable walking and cycling routes to school, you’re unlikely to see the shift to walking and cycling to school that the kids themselves say they want, and which is vital for their health and wellbeing. There now appears to be a plan for the filtered neighbourhood but we need to know the council’s plan for school streets. Why is there not even a commonplace consultation happening?
As recent data has shown, the car use in the area vastly increased when schools returned, suggesting that much of the rush our traffic is caused by local school journeys. Many of those, usually very short trips, can be made by walking and cycling. But that can only happen with the combination of filtered streets, crossings of through roads, and school streets. That is what this report, sponsored but withheld by Manchester City Council, promises.
We encourage readers to make clear their support for a low traffic neighbourhood, including the much-needed trial for ‘filters’, which reduce through traffic in our community, through the new Commonplace engagement site. The council are unlikely to proceed with any positive changes, unless they can be sure they are supported by the community.
But this scheme will never realise its full potential unless the Council respond to parents and children, and ensure School Streets are implemented too. We therefore encourage positive engagement with the council’s current plans for a low traffic neighbourhood, while also urging them to bring forward school streets to complement those plans.
We welcome the announcement from Manchester City Council that the active neighbourhood trial is still going ahead, and thank the councillors who have shown determination to get the trial started. We recognise that significant consultation has already taken place, but that some felt their opinions had not been heard. It is positive that the council is now pursuing further engagement through commonplace and public meetings. Streets for People will be doing our own work to ensure that as many people in the local area are informed about the consultation and trial as possible. The best way forward is to ensure everyone has access to clear information about the upcoming trial.
To that effect, we have created a comparison map and table of both the old scheme and new scheme at the bottom of our statement so that people can see where changes have occurred, with the keys of both the old and new maps provided.
We believe as a group that a trial is still the only way to find out how these measures will benefit our local area. We are glad to see that there are now several traffic and air pollution monitoring devices installed, especially on roads with high volume of traffic such as Broom Lane and Barlow Road. This data is public and will give us all a live look into how the trial measures affect traffic and pollution in several areas of Levenshulme.
From the information provided by the council, it is not 100% clear whether or not the much needed pedestrian crossing sites and traffic calming measures will be implemented during the trial period. We will seek urgent clarification from the council on this matter. Streets for People supports traffic calming measures for the whole of Levenshulme and Burnage. We want slower traffic and lower traffic.
We are also seeking clarification from the council as to how this engagement data will be used. The council must be clear that this is community engagement to improve the trials and the overall scheme. It is not a referendum on whether the trial should go ahead at all.
We are disappointed with some developments, particularly the further delay of School Streets programs that were due to begin in September. We are a month into the start of the school year and there has been continuing complaints from parents about the situation at the school gates. Recent data from Manchester Urban Observatory shows a distinct uptick in traffic around school times, and there have been multiple coronavirus outbreaks at local schools. Schools require action now and it is unclear based on the council’s information provided when measures will be implemented. A one-day school street closure will be nice, but won’t provide long term protection from both pollution and covid-19 around the school gates.
We are also disappointed about the delay of the Burnage part of the scheme.We spoke to many Burnage residents both online and in person who were looking forward to the trials. Two primary schools fall within the area which is now being delayed. Regardless, we look forward to this section of our community joining the trials in 2021, and the chance to see a low traffic neighbourhood working across the whole of the scheme area.
We will now take time to examine the plans in greater detail and to collect wider opinion from our supporters and signatories. We will examine the commonplace site to investigate the new feedback and see what the common themes are. We will be producing further information and comment on the plans as well as seeking clarification from the council where needed. If you want to let us know your thoughts on the plans, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is just the start of what we hope will be many years of improvements for our community, including to areas of Burnage not covered by the current scheme.
For now, we encourage people to read the information we already have on our site (that we’ll be adding to regularly!) and comment their opinions on commonplace, as well as like comments they agree with. There is also no replacement for talking to those you know, letting them know about the scheme and what you think of it, ask them to comment and chat to others too (and sign the collective letter if they haven’t already!). The more information the council has about the scheme the more it is likely to reflect the views of the people of Levenshulme and Burnage.
Comparison map and table
See below for an interactive example of the two projects side by side. Bear in mind the original active neighbourhood vision map that includes crossings was for both during trial (filters) and post-trial, whilst MCCs phase 1 map is for the 6 month trial only.
Whilst the crossings in the original map were for post-trial, the council seems to have announced traffic calming measures and crossings to be implemented alongside the filtered neighbourhood in phase one, with the locations for these easures being decided now through commonplace. We are seeking clarification, but if true this is brilliant news.
Last Sunday, Streets for People Levenshulme and Burnage was proud to hold its first public meeting. It is now over two months since plans to trial a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) were paused and there has been no formal public engagement from the council in that time, leaving parents in the dark about urgently needed School Streets, and £2.5m in funding potentially at risk. In the absence of leadership from local councillors we decided to start the conversation with an online public meeting, a recording of which is available to view.
Despite sending out invites to all six councillors from both Levenshulme and Burnage wards, no councillors attended. Angeliki Stogia (Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport) was also unable to attend. At the request of Cllr Ben Clay, S4PLB has made an online poll available to ensure there is council representation at future meetings, but so far only two Levenshulme councillors have indicated their availability.
In the meeting, S4PLB members provided information about the delayed trials and explained to residents their concerns about the lack of communication from councillors. A panel of speakers presented information about school streets, walking buses, and overcoming barriers for women in cycling. The family-friendly meeting had over 60 attendees, which included concerned parents and other concerned members of the community. All were given the opportunity to put questions to the speakers.
Our first speaker Joe represented S4PLB, and explained how our volunteer group came together after the planned LTN trial was paused because we recognise the urgent need to make our neighbourhood more welcoming and safe for people to travel on foot, by bike, or by wheelchair. A high volume of cars, inadequate crossings, pavement congestion and rat running all cause difficulty for those who wish to travel by active transport. Crucially, this includes the significant number of households who have no access to a car. We believe that most people in our community want to see improvements in this area, and over 500 people have now signed our open letter to the councillors to support this view.
Next to speak was Helen from Levy Clean Air, whose pollution monitoring work showed that almost the entirety of Levenshulme is plagued by very high levels of air pollution, frequently exceeding the legal limit. Helen highlighted that pollution could be reduced by shifting some of the many short journeys currently undertaken by motor vehicles to active travel methods, particularly for the school run in Levenshulme since the schools have small catchment areas. The group have led a variety of campaigns, more recently on school streets, which would provide local children with improved air quality and safety from heavy traffic around the school. Commenting on the current situation outside school entrances, Helen said “It’s generally quite an unsafe environment and this is exacerbated now by Covid-19 and the need for social distancing.”
Our third speaker Giselle, a local resident and parent, introduced us to her work on walking busses where children walk to school in a big group with adult ‘bus drivers’. Even in absence of a council-run formal bus, informal walking busses can share the responsibility of doing the school run between a group of parents, saving them time where they may otherwise be forced to drive. Also discussed was the potential for a “park and stride” whereby parents travelling from further afield can park in a safe place and continue their journey to school on foot. Giselle highlighted that 42% of school journeys are done in a car or van in the UK so working on these ideas could significantly reduce air pollution and congestion, while providing children with more exercise and a chance to socialise.
The final speaker was Vieve from Joyriders, an organisation based in Waltham Forest that aims to empower women through cycling. They run informal rides of varying lengths for women from a broad range of backgrounds. Joyriders have found that many women are interested in cycling but don’t think it is for them – although Vieve herself is a cycling instructor, she said that many women see a lack of road safety as a major barrier, with the Waltham Forest LTN proving beneficial to their outreach work.
Following the speakers there was an open discussion, which featured a wide range of viewpoints from across the community. Attendees of the meeting represented both supporters and objectors to the trials, along with many residents who wanted to find out more about the scheme but have been unable to since Manchester City Council (MCC) took back control of £2.5 million of funding from the original Levenshulme Bee Network group.
Harriet, a mother of a visually impaired child, asked to speak for children in the area who don’t have a voice in the meeting “I think we’ve come to a place, especially in Levenshulme, where cars rule. I see very reasonable people making lazy choices like dropping off children at crossings and mounting pavements to park the car.”
Susan, also a Levenshulme parent, was concerned about a lack of voice for people on the boundary roads like herself “We see children nearly run over everyday. We suffer fumes, so we have a relevant voice and a right to raise it.”
Dianna, a resident from the West Point area covered by the plans, felt that many people supported the trials in some form but was concerned where the funding had gone, “My question is, who has got the money? As I understand it the money was given to a local voluntary group of local people.”
Under the original Bee Network plan, six primary schools were set to start School Streets trials in September. MCC took back control of the project in July and now over four weeks into the new school year, parents and children are still waiting for news of when the trials will start. While School Streets trials have been implemented in cities across the country and also at St Paul’s C of E Primary in Withington, parents from Levenshulme and Burnage schools face a congested school run as shown by several social media posts.
“As a campaign group, Streets for People have spent the summer warning councillors about the problem of social distancing and air pollution that is going to be coming up in September. We didn’t find any plan-B to the postponed trials”, said Tom Haines-Doran. As the R-Rate continues to rise in wards covered by the proposed trials, social distancing outside schools is a serious public health issue and the need to provide for active travel for families without cars is important for key workers.
S4PLB are calling on residents to add their names to the 500+ who have already signed an open letter calling for the councillors to do everything in their power to ensure greatly improved walking and cycling facilities as a matter of urgency across Levenshulme & Burnage. The campaign group will continue to represent local residents and hold elected officials to account.
On Sunday 20th September 2020, 62 people from Levenshulme and Burnage attended a public meeting about the safety of roads in our area, especially for children’s journeys to school, and how to reduce the amount of local journeys by car.
Streets for People are proud to have hosted this meeting, which saw contributions from all sides of the debate. There was also an overwhelming sense of disappointment and confusion at the lack of Manchester City Council and local councillor representation at the meeting, despite the best efforts of Streets for People to encourage councillors to attend. Please see the ‘take action’ section of our website to help us persuade councillors that they need to speak in public about their views on these matters, whatever they may be.
Please phone or email the following local councillors, asking them to attend a public meeting, to answer questions from the community (a phone call is most effective, but don’t phone more than once without reply):
Angeliki Stogia (Manchester City Council Executive Member for Transport): Tel 07901 528 750, email email@example.com
Ben Clay (Burnage Ward): Tel 07966 296 332, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Azra Ali (Burnage): Tel 07852 511 785, email email@example.com
Bev Craig (Burnage): Tel 0161 234 1842, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Basat Sheikh (Levenshulme): Tel 07900 170 000, email email@example.com
Dzidra Noor (Levenshulme): Tel 07852 343 781, email firstname.lastname@example.org
(Bernard Stone [Levenshulme] has already indicated when he is available for a public meeting)
Gather signatories for our collective letter
Speak to neighbours and friends about our collective letter. Ask them to sign it online here. Signatories must either live, work or have kids that go to school in Levenshulme or Burnage Wards, or be responsible for businesses or community organisations in Levenshulme or Burnage Wards. Business owners or community organisation leaders may sign either as individuals or as the business or community organisation. Names will not be published, but will be sent to the councillors and other officials that the Collective Letter is addressed to. Streets for People administrators will check names against previous signatories to prevent duplicate signatures.
Join our organising team
We’re always looking for more people to help with our campaign. If you are interested in joining our organising group, please email: email@example.com