Manchester Friends of the Earth response to the ‘Congestion Conversation’

2nd November 2017

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham launched a ‘Congestion Conversation’ in which he would like to hear about ‘how congestion is impacting people’s lives’ and canvas ideas for reducing it.

Manchester Friends of the Earth encouraged people to response to the online survey and produced a handy sustainable transport guide.

We also submitted a more detailed collective response. Outline below

The Greater Manchester Congestion Conversation

The Greater Manchester Congestion Conversation

Greater Manchester faces multiple challenges around transport and urban design and we need to choose solutions that address them all together, not alone or in silos.

  • Congestion
  • Illegal air pollution
  • Climate change
  • Physical inactivity and obesity levels
  • Revitalising our town centres and district centres

In short, the conversation should not be limited to congestion but be broadened out to consider the ways in which transport planning can contribute to creating a thriving, healthy, liveable conurbation.

Half of all trips made in Greater Manchester are less than 2km (1.25 miles) and 30% of these trips are by cars. 88% of trips within Greater Manchester are of 5 miles or less, and more than half of these are by car.

In 1950, there were two million cars in the UK but by 2016 the number of cars had increased to over 26 million. As well as 4 million white vans. This growth in motorised vehicles does not just impact in terms of congestion and air quality – it also has significant impacts on the amount of urban space devoted to the car.

Across the UK, 7 million front gardens have been concreted over for car parking. Surface parking lots create heat islands and sources of polluted storm-water runoff.

And yet, for up to 96% of the time the car sits unused and empty and we do not calculate (or charge) the true costs of parking. It has been estimated that 94% of all parking away from the home are free. But there is no such thing as free parking – the true costs are borne by society.

Manchester Friends of the Earth’s vision for Greater Manchester’s transport system is one in which there has been substantial modal shift away from the private car and towards public transport, walking and cycling. All vehicles have zero tailpipe emissions. Transport provision is affordable and well integrated with easy-to-use journey planning tools and everyone has the services they need within easy access in their district centre so that there is less need to travel.

In this vision, these changes have greatly increased the level of active travel and improved air quality across Greater Manchester. This has seen improvements in the health and wellbeing of the people living and working in the region helping to reduce pressure on the health service. Better spatial planning, focused on improving access and opportunities in district centres across the region, has reduced the need to travel and has resulted in a low carbon footprint for the conurbation’s transport system and a thriving economy.

Our response is arranged in 9 sections, namely:

  1. Building more roads is not a sustainable solution.
  2. Priority for Whom? Congestion doesn’t just affect motor vehicles
  3. Air pollution
  4. Climate Change
  5. Public Transport
  6. Revitalising district and town centres
  7. Cycling
  8. Noise pollution
  9. Conclusion

We look forward to working with you as Greater Manchester Mayor to help achieve our vision.

You can download the Manchester Friends of Earth response.