Campaigners welcome plans to pedestrianise Deansgate and call on Government to relax side-road zebra crossing rules
Manchester Friends of the Earth welcomes the plans announced by Manchester City Council to pedestrianise part of Deansgate and to create extended footways in other busy areas of Manchester, and calls on the Government to allow councils to install side-road zebra crossings without expensive Belisha beacons. 
The restrictions introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic have seen substantial reductions in traffic levels in Greater Manchester and more people have been walking and cycling for their daily exercise, to travel to work or to the shops.
Even after the lockdown restrictions are eased people will still need to maintain physical distancing for many months to come. Cities around the world have been widening footways and creating safe cycle routes for essential journeys and to enable people to exercise safely.
It is essential that the Greater Manchester local authorities take the actions necessary to create safe space for walking and cycling.
Catherine Thomson, Manchester Friends of the Earth joint co-ordinator said: “We welcome the plans to pedestrianise part of Deansgate and create extended footways in busy areas of Manchester.
We look forward to seeing details of more schemes across Greater Manchester to provide the safe spaces that people need to be able to walk and cycle for essential journeys and their daily exercise.”
One such change that Greater Manchester wanted to introduce was to install 20,000 ‘implied zebra’ crossings as part of the Bee Network. Unlike standard zebra crossings, “implied zebras” don’t have flashing beacons. That makes them quick and cheap to install – costing as little as £300, compared with £30,000 or more for a standard zebra crossing.
Unfortunately, so far the Department for Transport has refused to change the traffic sign regulations and general directions  and give Greater Manchester permission to install side road zebra crossings without the need for beacons or zigzag lines.
Interim results from research by Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), commissioned by Greater Manchester Combined Authority have shown that the UK-invented zebra crossing is near-universally recognisable to walkers and drivers alike, even without zig-zag markings and Belisha beacons which are currently required. 
Manchester Friends of the Earth have created an easy-to-use online action for people to email Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, asking him to change the traffic regulations and give Greater Manchester permission to install thousands of side-road zebra crossings. 
Catherine Thomson added: “Implied zebras are a really quick and simple way to give priority to people walking and to make crossing roads in our local neighbourhoods safer for everyone. Now is the time for Grant Shapps to show leadership and change the regulations to enable local councils to make walking safer in residential areas.”
Contact for comments:
Pete Abel, Manchester Friends of the Earth. Mobile: 07951 642858. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
3) People recognised the non-standard zebra stripes 94% of the time, against the next highest contender, painted footprints, at 66%. TfGM website
4) Ask the Government to give the green light to “implied zebras” – https://actionnetwork.org/letters/ask-the-government-to-give-the-green-light-to-implied-zebras
5) Manchester Friends of the Earth is an award-winning environmental campaign group, raising awareness and lobbying for policy changes at a local, regional, national and international level. The group consists entirely of volunteers, and its campaigns are funded by membership fees and individual donations. Up-to-date information is available on the group’s website: www.manchesterfoe.org.uk. Manchester Friends of the Earth is a Licensed Local Group of Friends of the Earth, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. www.foe.co.uk