Greater Manchester signs up for people-friendly streets

Guywood Lane Romiley 1 low res

To mark the city-region’s Clean Air Week, Greater Manchester has today joined Edinburgh, Paris, New York and Bogota in signing up to the Open Streets movement – a programme of events that temporarily open streets to people by closing them to cars.

The Open Streets concept started in the USA in 2011 and aims to improve the quality of life for people by bringing residents together to create more vibrant and healthy communities.

Since then, many cities worldwide have hosted regular events ranging from street parties to festivals, often using these events as a way to temporarily reconfigure streets so that they work for people first. Streets can even be used to host performances, open air fitness classes and giant chess games.

Closing streets to vehicles, even for just a few hours, can have a major impact on air quality. Paris’ car-free Sundays see cars banned from key areas of the city, including the Champs-Elysees from 9am-4pm. According to air quality network Airpartif, which monitors pollution levels in Paris, there is a 35% drop in harmful nitrogen dioxide exhaust emissions during these times.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has today launched a new 10-step guide to help residents and communities interested in hosting an Open Streets event.

Successful Open Streets events have already been held in Romiley and Levenshulme, with further events planned this week in Chorlton.

The roll out of temporary street closures was one of the steps identified in Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s Made to Move report, authored by the city-region’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner, Chris Boardman.

He said: “I’m really pleased that Open Streets is being embraced by local residents across Greater Manchester. I’ve seen first-hand the difference these events can make in cities like New York and Paris and, more recently, Edinburgh.

“Not only has this try-before-you-buy approach led to Times Square being transformed permanently into a more people-friendly space, it’s led to lots of smaller, local events where people close their local high street or residential roads to motor traffic on a regular basis, perhaps once a month.

“My hope is these events can act as a catalyst for permanent change here in Greater Manchester too.

“Residents across the city-region can use the guide to organise their own events and reap the many rewards. By taking control and making their own streets more people-friendly, even just for a few hours, residents can inspire their communities and show just how much better our local areas are with fewer vehicle journeys.”

As well as accessing the guide, residents interested in hosting events can borrow equipment, including diversion signage and temporary items like planters, from TfGM. Visit tfgm.com/bee for more details.

Greater Manchester is currently asking residents and businesses for their views on its Clean Air Plan proposals, designed to tackle air pollution across the city-region.

For further information, and to give feedback through an online survey, go to CleanAirGM.com.