I wrote this piece at the request of the Manchester Meteor as part of a series they’re curating from community groups on the realities of trying to engage with Manchester City Council.
The Meteor series was triggered by blog post from Council leader Sir Richard Leese urging people to work with the council on solutions to the climate crisis.
I’m one of a group of people who last year set up WalkRide Greater Manchester to campaign for better walking, cycling and public transport in the city region.
One of our goals is for our urban centres to be designed and built around people not cars – and specifically we are campaigning for Manchester’s showpiece shopping street, Deansgate, to become traffic free*.
Earlier this year, one of our group came up with a proposal to turn part of Deansgate over to a large ‘open streets’ event on the longest day of the year, for people to be able to try it out as a traffic-free zone, with fun activities such as yoga, picnics and five a side – as well as to learn more about ‘active travel’.
Deansgate is closed to through-traffic about 10-12 times a year – but that’s in order to use the space for events like parades or races – so people don’t really get to experience it as their own, pedestrian place.
We called our idea, the People’s Takeover and asked for meetings with the council, TfGM and the Walking and Cycling Beelines team to progress it.
This coalition of groups were ostensibly enthusiastic, so we adapted the proposal to meet everyone’s requirements – and then asked what we’d need to do to make it happen. We even found an agreed source of funding.
We thought we had done the easy bit. Continue reading “What happened when we tried to pedestrianise Manchester’s showpiece street for one day via official channels?”