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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:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEpcumhrTIuHdGTblC1IxQsKItAZ_lyzWVH

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: streets4peoplelb@gmail.com

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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.

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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.

Help us get these measures trialled!

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Burnage Corner: A Blog

You will notice that our group are called “Streets for People Levenshulme and Burnage”. This is because, whilst the majority of the area of the low traffic neighbourhood that we still hope to get is Levenshulme, there is also a part of Burnage that sits within the area (see below). It’s also because we don’t want to see the rest of Burnage left behind. We encourage Burnage councillors to engage with the Greater Manchester Bee Network process, and submit a bid to improve all streets in the Burnage ward for walking, cycling, and the use of mobility devices (such as mobility scooters and wheelchairs).

A lot of the discussion, including scheme websites and social media group names, often omits Burnage, and so we thought we’d give Burnage its own blog to itself. This may start out brief, and expand over time as more information is learned. Due to only a corner of Burnage ward being in the previously proposed Levenshulme Bee Network scheme it is sometimes difficult to get data for this area alone. (There’s also a teensy bit of Rusholme and Longsight sneaking in. We see you!)

That being said, we’ve tried our best, and rather than relying on the 2011 census data, we’ve delved into the depths of the council website and pulled up something a little more interesting. A Mosaic Profile!

We know what you’re thinking “What’s this cubist monstrosity hovering over my neighbourhood?”

That would be the Levenshulme (and bit of Burnage) Mosaic Profile. According to Experian, a mosaic profile is a population segmentation tool that uses a range of data and analytical methods to identify 15 summary groups and 66 detailed types of local area that are “easy to interpret and understand”.

The easy to interpret to understand is… debatable, so what we at Streets for People have done is produce a version that is more straightforward and more importantly, colourblind friendly, to allow anyone who wants to interpret this data the ability to do so for their local area (Data from December 2015). We believe the more data local residents have access too, regardless of their views, the more successful this scheme will be.

However, this is Burnage’s blog, so we will zoom in on the bit of Burnage in the previously proposed Levenshulme Bee Network scheme.

The map shows where within the neighbourhood each type of household is most commonly found. [We have the HD ones somewhere, just need to renumber and will upload]

This area of Burnage (the one in the scheme) contains the following mosaic profiles (most common in bold).

NumberProfile nameDescription
14Cafes and catchmentsAffluent families with growing children living in upmarket housing in city environs
35Primary ambitionsFamilies with school-age children, who have bought the best house they can afford within popular neighbourhoods
37Community eldersEstablished older neighbourhoods owning city homes in diverse neighbourhoods
38Asian HeritageLarge extended families in neighbourhoods with a strong South Asian tradition
39Ageing AccessOlder residents owning small inner suburban properties with good access to amenities
43Student SchemeStudents living in high density accommodation close to universities and educational centres
44Flexible WorkforceYoung renters ready to move to follow worthwhile incomes from service sector jobs
52Midlife StopgapMaturing singles in employment who are renting affordable homes for the short term
58Retirement communitiesOlder people living in retirement homes or designated complexes
Note: The names are chosen by Experian for these categories, and are different in the most recent version of their tool.

From this brief glance, it seems this part of Burnage is home to a large proportion of elderly residents, with at least two dedicated retirement apartment blocks. Thus, it would be worthwhile looking at how an active travel scheme might benefit these people.

According to Age UK’s report “The Future of Transport in an Ageing Society” improving the built environment can encourage older people to walk, cycle and exercise. Physical activity among older people has been linked to better cognitive performance, reductions in morbidity and mortality, and increased mental wellbeing.

Less traffic on the streets would also make it easier for the elderly to cross roads, as current road crossings do not give older people time to cross. (Pelican crossings assume a walk time of 1.2 metres per second. 76% of men and 85% of women over 65 walk slower than this.)

Cycling can also provide advantages for the elderly: a study by King’s College London on a group of cyclists aged 55 to 79 found these cyclists had levels of physiological function that are comparable to people much younger. For those who wish to continue cycling without the physical exertion, electric bikes – and trikes! – are now an up and coming option as well. Of course mobility scooters also provide a valuable service – but as they are speed limited by law to 8mph, using them on the roads in the area at the moment is a hair-raising experience, and using them on pavements difficult due to the high levels of pavement parking and lack of dropped kerbs.

Encouraging active travel among older people could therefore not only extend people’s transport options, especially for those who may be unable to drive for medical reasons, but could also confer health benefits. With the low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) we have the opportunity to remove barriers to transport, as well as helping people achieve better health.

It’s of course worth remembering, the ward lines are invisible, and any advantages in this bit of Burnage will be enjoyed by Levenshulmians and Burnagers alike, especially if they are brought closer by the low traffic neighbourhood plans.

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See the original proposed LTN for this region set against the mosaic profile below.

Use the slider to switch between mosaic and original LTN proposal

Full MOSAIC profile numbered with Key by streets for people is HERE:

If you want to show your support for a Low Traffic Neighbourhood in Burnage and Levenshulme, and live in the local area, you can help by signing our collective letter to councillors and local leaders.

Help us get these measures trialled!

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Without a car: Who relies on active travel?

Are you enhancing inequality in Greater Manchester by taking planning priority away from those with cars? Is a modal shift unequal? Let’s take a look at the data.

The primary aim of low traffic/active neighbourhoods is to encourage people to change the mode by which they make short journeys. By reducing rat running and improving infrastructure, walking and cycling around the local area is made much easier. As a result, people who usually jump in the car to go to grocery shopping, to take their children to school, or to do whatever else they need, may choose to use an alternative method instead.

But whilst this mode change is one reason to bring in a low traffic neighbourhood, there is another group who this will benefit. Those who are already undertaking “active travel” journeys every day, those households who have no car.

These people who have been travelling by foot, bike or mobility aid before any of this new infrastructure. Who are they, in Greater Manchester, and in our local area? Most importantly, what could be done to make their lives easier?

The carless: Who and how many?

Percentage of households owning at least one car.
Source: Tom Forth’s Ward Explorer: Based on 2011 census data

As can be seen, Levenshulme and Burnage both have a fairly average level of car ownership, compared to the rest of GM, with Burnage’s skewing slightly higher.

So who are the carless? Well, the Bike Life 2019 survey by Sustrans collected recent data on this group.

Taken from Sustrans Bike Life survey 2019 (both cyclists and non-cyclists) – 850,000 is from 2011 census and has likely increased.

This data suggests that improving active travel infrastructure and prioritising non-car travel would be catering to many within the lowest socio-economic groups, as defined by based on occupation maintained by the Market Research Society. Data from the DfT also demonstrates that car ownership is correlated with income, with poorer households having lower access to cars.

30% of this group have also expressed an interest in starting cycling. When asked why they don’t cycle or cycle less often, they stated safety concerns (35%), lack of confidence (25%) or a feeling that cycling is “not for people like me” (20%). The last one is upsetting, considering this is exactly who cycling could help. Not having a car can increase the risk of social exclusion, dept and transport poverty, but this shouldn’t be the case. Cycling over a longer distance, to a place of work and outside of the neighbourhood, will be discussed at another time, due to this being a different issue to that of low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs).

So we know a little bit about people without cars, and who within the carless could have the most to gain from an LTN, but what can we work out about our own local area?

The carless: Levenshulme & Burnage

The spread of carless households across the area of the previously proposed Levenshulme Bee Network scheme appears to be split. The region of Burnage in the proposed LTN in particular has fewer carless households, whilst the East side of Levenshulme (particularly near Longsight) has more carless households. These areas will stand to benefit from an LTN even with no change in behaviour.

More yellow = More carless households.
Data from 2011 Census (Most recent car/household data)

The census data is of course from 2011, so what could we do to get a more recent estimate of car numbers in M19?

To go back up to a bigger scale, the MEN reported in 2017 that Manchester still had fewer cars per head than any city other than London, with 0.27 cars per head, compared to Birmingham’s 0.53 and Leeds’ 0.44.

This is all we can work out about our car situation, hopefully the next data we can analyse will be from the trial of the LTN itself.

The ‘carless’ and the ‘car less’

Coming back to the LTN and modal shift, by prioritising active travel over cars, we can make life easier for people who have no choice but to walk or cycle. In the same way that by choosing not to drive, we clear space for those who have no option but to use the road. Even if we still own cars, we can “car less”, and in so, care more for our fellow neighbours who rely on active travel.

Across England, 25% of all car journeys are under two miles. In Greater Manchester, this is even higher. 30% of trips under 1km are made by car. That is on average a 15 minute walk or 4 minute cycle ride.

Taken from the made to move report pg. 17

If everybody who is able chose to walk rather than drive for even just the shortest of these trips, there would be far fewer cars travelling down residential roads. The changes needed to achieve this modal shift in residential areas may seem drastic, but the health benefits would be significant. Within the low traffic neighbourhood, the resulting reduction in car journeys would lead to a reduction in noise and air pollution, and there are huge health benefits to everyone who makes use of the opportunity for a more physically active way to travel – even for those living on roads outside of the previously proposed scheme area. Indeed, air pollution and inactivity are two major threats to our health, with an estimated combined cost to the NHS of in excess of £1bn. In Greater Manchester, 10 people every day die early from air pollution.

For some, these benefits will be paid for in a reduction in convenience as some car journeys become slightly longer. For others who do not own a car at all, their day-to-day lives will be greatly facilitated.

People belonging to these carless households are already reliant on walking, cycling and public transport to go about their lives. Those using public transport still need to get themselves to the train station or bus stop without a car. It’s entirely understandable that people who rely on their cars may have concerns that certain things may become more difficult under a low traffic neighbourhood scheme – and any concerns should be addressed as best as possible. As a community, however, we have a responsibility to enable those who do not have access to a car to carry out their lives with ease and in safety. We can only do this by actively prioritising our roads to pedestrians and cyclists, and this invariably requires making cars less of a priority.

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If you want to show your support for a Low Traffic Neighbourhood in Burnage and Levenshulme, and live in the local area, you can help by signing our collective letter to councillors and local leaders.

Help us get these measures trialled!

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Fallowfield Loop consultation: have your say

Stay in the loop about the “Floop”! Click here to submit your comments for consultation before the 21st of August

The Fallowfield Loop, or “Floop”, is the route of an old railway line that used to link up Manchester Central Station (now Manchester Central Convention Complex and formally the Gmex) with Guide Bridge station in Ashton, as well as stations at Chorlton, Fallowfield and Levenshulme.

The line closed in 1988, and lay empty until 2001, where after several years of campaigning it was converted into a walking and cycling route. It has remained popular ever since. In 2016, barriers originally designed to block cars, were removed to allow those travelling along the Fallowfield Loop to move more freely.

It is managed by Sustrans and the Friends of the Fallowfield Loop.

It is popular with pedestrians, joggers and cyclists alike and provides an 8-mile traffic-free green route across South Manchester. 

Manchester City council have allocated £5million for improvements and they want to know your views. Whether it be wider paths more security less barrier, or anything else that will help promote the Fallowfield Loop.

You can respond on Manchester Council’s Consultation page above or by clicking here. This takes you to a Commonplace site: an online page where you can leave your own comments as well as seeing what other people have said.

The consultation closes on Friday the 21st of August so make sure your get your comments in if you want to have your say!

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Do all roads lead to equality?

Occasionally we will be undertaking larger analysis to see what the effects of a filtered neighbourhood on Burnage and Levenshulme might be, and in our first we are starting with one of the biggest.

“The roads receiving the most benefit from the scheme are the most affluent and well-off already, and the ones receiving the least benefit are the most deprived. This scheme will only make inequality worse.”

Is this true? Well, let us look at the data. Specifically for the original Levenshulme Bee Network active neighbourhood plans. These came in for criticism regarding some of the planned changes, and are set to be modified, but they represent the most recent map we have. So we will be using this to judge “the schemes” plans, and to define affected and unaffected roads.

First we defined deprivation by the Indices of Multiple Deprivation (Last published 2019). We took unfiltered non-main roads (i.e. Roads that were through roads and still will be through roads) and the filtered roads (roads that allowed through traffic that will now be resident access only) and looked at how highly ranked for deprivation they were.

Figure 1: Overall index of multiple deprivation rank by postcode/street

As we can see, there is no clear split between filtered and unfiltered roads. In fact the least deprived roads are the ones that would still be receiving through traffic.

A point well worth making is that the index of deprivation rank ranges from 1 (most deprived) to 32,844 (least deprived). This means almost all streets within the scheme, particularly those receiving filters to stop through traffic, are within the 20% or even 10% most deprived areas across the whole of the UK. Do we want to deprive these areas of lower through traffic? We all love Levenshulme and Burnage, but trying to draw lines between which areas are “deprived” and which areas are “affluent” is clearly not something that can be assumed without data.

Most deprived areas

Here below we can see two of the most deprived areas according to IMD, of which both were due to receive interventions. The West Point Gardens area including Buckhurst Road/Osborne Road/Victoria Road has come in for particular criticism, due to some houses being worth a significant amount of money. However searching on Zoopla does not account for the hidden poverty in some properties where 5+ families can live in one converted town house.

But if you are only looking at house prices, you are only seeing a tiny slice of the housing pie as can be seen on Osborne Road.

Home ownership data for Osborne road taken from streetcheck.com, based on 2011 census data [most recent comprehensive housing dataset]. Bear in mind census data, like all other address data, is not perfect, and some streets can include small amounts of data from other adjacent roads.

So now we know looking at house prices alone will not give us the full picture of deprivation, where can we go for this information, and is there anything more recent than 2011?

There is, and it’s what we used to construct the graph at the start of this blog. The indices of multiple deprivation has a visualiser tool.

So let’s look at the Levenshulme and Burnage active neighbourhood proposed map, and put it side by side with the most deprived areas in the neighbourhood.

You can’t see detail yet, but it’s clear the most deprived areas (the darkest) areas are the ones in the top left.

Lets look at these areas the interventions they were due to receive (drag the icon in the centre to swipe between IMD data and the original proposal):

Apologies for the imperfect alignment, but you get the picture!

This area was ranked 2867 out of 32,000, and is the 2nd most deprived in Levenshulme, it was due to receive three filter interventions. Two simple filters (the yellow circles, low cost interventions such as planters), and a split junction to prevent through traffic.

Again not perfect alignment, but the picture is clear.

This is the most deprived area involved in the scheme, and was due to recieve 4 filter interventions. A bus gate, and 3 simple filters, there was also a filter planned for just outside this region that would have further cut through traffic.

So clearly, the two most deprived areas in the scheme were set to recieve alot of attention.

This shows the risk of presuming how deprivation is spread across out neighbourhood, and could end up negatively affecting the very people we want to protect most. The most deprived and most vulnerable. We must ensure we aren’t lead by our assumptions to easy answers, and use data to get as close to the truth as we can.

Of course, this whole discussion about some roads being overburdened more is only a problem if you assume some roads will shoulder a much larger amount of traffic than others due to the scheme. Is this true in the long term?

A trial is needed, but evidence from similar schemes suggests that unfiltered roads do not receive extra traffic, following a period of adjustment. However it is still vital to push for improvements to all streets in the area, whether filtered or unfiltered.

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Thanks for reading. If anyone has any queries about the data, or suggestions on how to capture more information about our neighbourhood, get in touch via our contact page.

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Postcodes for streets were obtained from https://www.freemaptools.com/ by scanning for all postcodes along each street. These were then cross referenced to google maps and https://www.streetlist.co.uk. Not every postcode has a different entry on the IMD (single streets have many postcodes) so this was done to ensure every street was captured fully.

All analysis was performed using R studio.

IMD data using these postcodes was obtained from the governments IMD postcode lookup here: http://imd-by-postcode.opendatacommunities.org/imd/2019

This data was cross referenced to the governments IMD data that sorts by LSOA http://dclgapps.communities.gov.uk/imd/iod_index.html?fbclid=IwAR0SNvoViFKhEofn3XR_2gXwXEjhYwSVgDHBavixNH055wahdSqLUvJg65Q

The majority of the data used for the IMD indicators is sourced from administrative data such as benefit records from the Department for Work and Pensions. Census data is used for a minority of indicators where alternative data from administrative sources is not available. As far as is possible, the data sources used in each indicator were based on data from the most recent time point available.

Street postcodes were elicited and filtered/unfiltered status assigned prior to the obtaining of IMD data, to acocunt for potential risk of bias.

If you feel your street is missing please contact us with its name and filtered/unfiltered status and we will add it to the next iteration of the analysis.