Join the ‘Congestion Conversation’
Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has 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. Here’s how we’ll be responding, and would encourage you to respond.
Update: you can download the full Manchester Friends of the Earth response to the Congestion Conversation.
The consultation asks about your experiences of congestion and your views on how to reduce it. The issues within it are core to the thinking and campaigning that Manchester FOE has been doing.
We’d therefore like to share our thoughts on what we think will take Greater Manchester’s transport in a more sustainable, congestion-busting direction, and encourage you to respond to the consultation.
Responding to the consultation
We have listed below our preferences and also additional points you may wish to include. We hope that seeing our response will be useful in thinking about what to write, but would encourage you personalise your response.
Our view on the causes of road congestion:
We strongly disagree that congestion is caused by making space for buses, bikes and pedestrians: these are more efficient uses of road space and therefore congestion-busting modes. Congestion is worsened by a lack of investment in public transport and active travel, leaving these options seeming impractical and unattractive for many people. We agree that delivery vehicles are increasingly adding to congestion.
Our view on the most effective ways to reduce road congestion:
We strongly disagree that providing more space for private cars and vans is a way to reduce congestion. History has shown that this is at most a temporary solution, as roads fill up and bottlenecks appear further upstream. It’s also a very limited approach as it does nothing to address the other impacts of growing dependence on private vehicles, which include climate change, unhealthy air, physical inactivity and obesity.
We therefore support reducing the amount of cars and vans using road space at the same time, i.e. time shift, but urge for stronger action that recognises the need to reduce traffic levels overall through mode shift and reducing the need to travel. To do this effectively it is necessary to better understand the causes of congestion.
TfGM needs to employ a range of strong measures that discourage single-occupancy vehicle use and encourage the use of public transport, walking and cycling and recognise the impacts of congestion on our health, the environment and the economy. These include:
– Clean Air Zones that charge the most polluting vehicles more
– Workplace parking levy, whereby large businesses are charged per car parking space
– Constraints on the availability of parking places
– Working with delivery companies to reduce their impact at busy times and develop more sustainable approaches like cycle logistics
– Educational approaches and personalised journey planning.
The impact of congestion on Greater Manchester:
We agree that congestion discourages investment and visitors from the city, as well as making the air we breathe unhealthy. It should be emphasised that congestion affects all road users and that people walking, cycling or taking public transport are also inconvenienced by it. The impacts upon health, whether through unhealthy air, stress, or lack of physical activity must not be underestimated.
Further thoughts regarding congestion or reducing congestion:
TfGM’s own ‘Transport Strategy 2040’ and Greater Manchester’s Spatial Framework (GMSF) both recognise that expanding highway capacity to meet demand for car travel is ‘not sustainable, or physically or financially practical’ (GMSF), and we now need to see strong leadership from the Mayor on this.