Active Neighbourhood Trials Analysis and research

Active Neighbourhood: Access All Areas

“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!

Don’t forget to leave your feedback on the scheme on Commonplace

Happy travels!

Active Neighbourhood Trials

Our community deserves better: Streets for People statement

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.

Councillors have told us that resourcing problems are due to a general lack of funds with MCC. To this, we argue that our councillors should not simply accept the situation as it is. What are they doing to fight for more resources for our community? Why is it that vanity projects like the Great Ancoats Street ‘European Boulevard’ project receive £10 million in public funding, despite doing nothing for walking and cycling (and with, as it happens, very little consultation at all), while communities like ours are left to fight over scraps? It isn’t good enough. The project requires a full time Project Manager, dedicated solely to making it a success.

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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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?
  5. 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.

Please engage with current proposals here.

Sign our collective letter to councillors here.

Other events and consultations

Clean Air Day

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.

Clean Air Levenshulme braving the bad weather to discuss ways to combat pollution!

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 ( 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

School streets

Levy School Streets: The report Manchester Council don’t want you to see

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.

St Andrew’s school, Broom Avenue: How pupils travel to school (left) compared to how they’d like to travel to school (right).

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?

Manchester City Council have indicated that they are currently working out how to implement School Streets, following the installation of the first phase of the filtered neighbourhood in Levenshulme, stating that they are “working with the schools in the area to look at whether one day school street timed closures can be trialled”.

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).

As was made clear by many parents in our recent public meeting, the issue of traffic and school streets are inseparable. Indeed, groups such as Clean Air Levenshulme have been campaigning on this issue for a number of years.

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.

Please engage with current proposals here.

Read the Sustrans report here:

Sign our collective letter to councillors here.

Active Neighbourhood Trials

Update: Levenshulme and North Burnage Active Neighbourhood

Streets for People Statement

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

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.

Drag the circle in the centre to compare between the two.

Left legend is for the original scheme, with the right legend being for phase 1 of the new scheme. Note crossings and traffic calming have not been placed on phase 1 map yet as the council is still consulting on their locations.

Larger version can be seen here.

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.

To answer this consultation specifically go here.

Table of filters and changes

Filter Number (Street)Status
1. Longden RoadNo change
2. Armitage avenueNo change
3. Mayford roadNo change
4. Guildford roadChanged from diagonal filter to standard filter
5. Manor road 1No change
6. Manor road 2No change
7. Caremine avenueNew filter
8. Portville roadNo change
9. Dunstable streetNo change
10. Barlow roadNo change
11. Cardus street (North)New filter
12. Cardus street (South)No change
13. Chapel street (West)No change
14. Chapel street (East)No change
15. Atlas placeNo change
16. Delamere road (West)No change
17. Delamere road/Gordon roadNo change
18. Crayfield roadNo change
19. Marley roadNo change
20. Dorset roadNo change
21. Molyneux roadNo change
22. Osborne roadNo change
23. Victoria roadChanged from diagonal filter to standard filter
24. Buckhurst roadNo change
25. Henderson streetNo change
x. Green driveFilter removed (This is a private road)
x. Lytham roadFilter removed

There have also been changes in road direction and the introduction of new turning directions which we will be investigating further.

Public meetings School streets

Sunday’s Public Meeting: A Written Account

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.”

Some images from the campaigning work of Levy Clean Air

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.

A map of local schools, from which the proposed walking bus and park and stride locations were based

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.

Public meetings

Video of the Public Meeting

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.

Other events and consultations

Take action

Contact councillors

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

Ben Clay (Burnage Ward): Tel 07966 296 332, email

Azra Ali (Burnage): Tel 07852 511 785, email

Bev Craig (Burnage): Tel 0161 234 1842, email

Basat Sheikh (Levenshulme): Tel 07900 170 000, email

Dzidra Noor (Levenshulme): Tel 07852 343 781, email

(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:

Public meetings School streets

Public meeting: Safe roads for kids – What’s happened to the Low Traffic Neighbourhood plans?

The Levenshulme Low Traffic Neighbourhood trials were paused in early July, to allow for more community engagement. Since then, Manchester City Council have conducted no engagement at all, and the vast majority of residents are in the dark as to what’s happening.

What’s more, the chaos outside our schools that we have spent the summer warning councillors about has come to pass, causing big safety issues for parents and kids. There were plans to reduce traffic outside schools with School Streets, but those have been shelved, along with the rest of the Low Traffic Neighbourhood, with no Plan B in place.

As a result, we are organising a public meeting on the issue of what’s happening with the Low Traffic Neighbourhood proposals, and especially the council’s inaction on the dangerous situation outside schools caused by motor traffic. It will be held on Sunday 20th September at 3pm on Zoom.

We challenge the Levenshulme and Burnage councillors and council leadership to attend this meeting and explain to residents what is happening. We will also hear from local parents and campaigners about the work they have been doing to make our streets safer for all, to tackle air pollution and make lives easier for those that don’t always have access to a car.

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Please note that to attend this event, you must live, work, have kids that go to school in Levenshulme or Burnage, or be responsible for a business or community organisation in either of those wards. All are welcome to attend. We know that those with kids will be especially interested in coming. We would like you to feel welcome to join our meeting even if it coincides with childcare – kids are welcome! If you struggle with Zoom or have any questions, please email us at:

School streets

Don’t Pollute the School Route: The case for “School Streets”

There is a catastrophe on the horizon as schools look set to go back next week. Not just because of covid, masks, and social distancing, but the return of the school run, a currently car-heavy routine that will see clouds of pollution descend back in front of our school gates.

School Streets were due to be in place by the return to school, as part of the Low Traffic Neighbourhood trials. However, with those trials put back until who knows when, at this moment Manchester City Council have no plans to reduce traffic around schools to make the school run safer and nicer for children in our area.

To tell us more about these concerns, Streets for People are happy to have the backing of local parent Helen Rimmer, from Clean Air Levenshulme.

Why we need School Streets in Levenshulme and Burnage:

Across the country schools are closing their roads to cars, making the journey to school safer, encouraging active travel and cutting air pollution and congestion.

School Streets are temporary closure of the roads around schools, for around 30 mins at school drop-off and pick-up times. In the Covid19 era, local authorities have been instructed by the government to be “strongly promoting active travel” including “implementing ‘safe streets’ policies outside schools” (Department for Education, August 2020). 

In Levenshulme and Burnage we need School Streets for every school where it’s possible, and a big push to promote active travel to school. The school run typically accounts for one in five of all cars on the road in the morning rush hour according to the National Travel Survey. Our community suffers illegal levels of air pollution along the A6 and monitoring by local parents has found high air pollution throughout our community including near schools and nurseries. Walking and cycling also exposes children to less air pollution than driving. Asthma expert Prof Stephen Holgate says evidence shows pollution is nine to 12 times higher inside a car than outside, as cars suck in exhaust fumes from vehicles ahead.

Air pollution is particularly harmful to children, stunting the development of young lungs, and is linked to first time asthma and worsening asthma symptoms. Central Manchester has the highest rate of emergency hospital admissions for asthma in the whole country. Anecdotal evidence from parents in Levenshulme and Burnage indicates high incidences of wheezing, respiratory conditions, and use of inhalers amongst babies and toddlers.

School Streets would also make access to school safer for children, freeing school gates from the chaos of traffic congestion, pavement driving and parking, and idling, and would give space to parents and carers for social distancing during the Covid19 pandemic. Access is maintained for any children or carers with mobility issues and for residents. Parents who still need to drive (such as for work) are encouraged to ‘park and stride ’, finding a parking space a 10 min walk away from the school. Initiatives such as walking buses, can also help busy parents.

Concerns that School Street closures would displace traffic elsewhere are not backed up by research. A recent review of evidence by Edinburgh Napier University found that for almost all examples of School Streets, the total number of cars on streets in the vicinity of schools decreased significantly. It also found that School Streets improve air quality, congestion and physical activity amongst children as more walk, scoot or cycle to school. Around 80% of children currently fail to meet the minimum daily recommendation for exercise. Parents would also benefit from regular exercise, especially now during the government’s drive to get people fit during the pandemic.

One Greater Manchester primary school which is determined to enable children to have a safer, more active and less polluted school run is Russell Scott Primary in Denton. Headteacher Steve Marsland held a School Street closure last year and says “We wanted to win back the street and tell the community the world doesn’t stop when a road is closed. It showed roads can be closed and children can ride scooters on them.” By educating parents there has been an 80% increase in the number of children walking to school in just eighteen months.

For many parents in Levenshulme and Burnage, School Streets can’t come soon enough. We hope our council will show leadership and enable children to arrive at school happy, healthy, refreshed and ready to learn.


Thanks to Helen again for this vital post. If you want to support for a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (including school streets) in Levenshulme and Burnage and live in the local area, you can help by signing our collective letter to councillors and local leaders.

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