Why walking & cycling are essential services to support recovery and help get Manchester back on its feet during Covid19

Image from @juststepsways

This is a humanitarian, as well as a health crisis.

Tens of thousands of people have died in the UK, with millions on the front line providing health care or other essential services; with unprecedented numbers relying on foodbanks and social support, and many more with no or reduced income.

Despite this only 9% of people want to go back to how it was – and high up among those things we all want to keep are the quieter & safer streets, cleaner air, and greener neighbourhoods brought about by the drastic reduction in road traffic due to lockdown.

Here’s my proposal for the critical role walking and cycling can play in our renewal – enabling us to rebuild a cleaner, greener & more inclusive future, keeping the best of what we had and leaving the worst behind.

(best viewed in presenter mode)

Published 4 May 2020

Discovering nature’s secrets are right on our doorstep during lockdown. Join me on a 10,000-step trip round mine!

Click here for a full page version of the map

In the week since Lockdown, all our horizons have closed in.

For me, the 1km radius around my home has become my whole world.
I already spent a lot of time in it, working from home a lot, and car-free.

So many ‘freedoms’ have been withdrawn, the world seemingly ‘shrunk’, due to Covid19 – yet strangely it seems like I’m seeing everything around me in close up with a new observer’s excited eye.

It’s like because the world got smaller, our eyes got bigger, our ears more sensitive. It’s as if someone has adjusted the scale on my brain, like the dial on a microscope, to see smaller changes, greater depth.

Is this how we notice? Is this how we re-attach ourselves to nature?
Is this how we remember that society is hosted, generously, by our ecosystem, not the other way around?

The little noticings that in the past I might have missed, busy on a phone running late on a tram into town, or catching a train to a weekend away; there is no escaping the doorstep now, indeed it is all we have.

Continue reading “Discovering nature’s secrets are right on our doorstep during lockdown. Join me on a 10,000-step trip round mine!”

What happened when we tried to pedestrianise Manchester’s showpiece street for one day via official channels?

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?”