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Walk Ride invites Stockport councillors and officers on an ‘Infrastructure Safari’

Members of Walk Ride Stockport have invited the borough’s councillors and officers to experience the modern, best-practice infrastructure that is increasingly evident in parts of Greater Manchester.

The ride – coined as an ‘infrastructure safari‘ – will give participants the opportunity to feel firsthand how some of the protected lanes, CYCLOPS junctions, and other measures in central Manchester and Salford – measures that have only been possible thanks to carrying out the Government-mandated exercise to reallocate road space. Studies have shown that, where implemented, “road space reallocation could have positive impacts on health by reducing overall levels of private motorised traffic, encouraging walking, wheeling and cycling, realising benefits from alternative uses of space and supporting local businesses.

Rather than targeting those who already cycle regularly, the intention of the ‘infrastructure safari’ is to show councillors and officers who don’t currently cycle how much of a difference this infrastructure makes to the experience. Survey after survey shows the pent up demand for healthy travel choices that’s prevented by our currently hostile road network. So elected members need to be the ones to understand and lead on enabling supply of safe infrastructure to meet the demand from their voters (who time and again vote in favour of active travel measures).

Sustrans Walking & Cycling Index 2021 data showing city residents want to cycle

Build It and They Will Come

The phenomenon of induced demand is evident along the Oxford Road cycleway. It continues to break its own records for ridership, demonstrating how a safer moving environment can affect positive behaviour change.

Our Invitation

The below email text and appendix has been sent to councillors and officers at Stockport Council. It sets out why familiarising with one of the key solutions to our climate emergency would fulfil local policy and lead to improvements to all residents’ lives:


Dear Councillor,

Thank you for completing our Walk Ride Stockport questionnaire ahead of the recent election, and for your commitment to humanising our streets during your time as an elected representative, putting pedestrians first and facilitating active movement modes like cycling to enable people to get around.

It is in this context that we’d be delighted if you would join us for an ‘Infrastructure Safari’ group cycle ride to witness firsthand some of the region’s best practice street designs. Here’s a video of one we hosted earlier this year.

We appreciate some Councillors may be nervous about cycling, or not have access to a bicycle/tricycle. If this is the case, we can help by providing a bicycle/tricycle (or we would recommend the Beryl/TfGM cycle hire scheme), or a one-to-one practice and cycle training, or a separate visit to some of the key locations on foot.

We would like you, on behalf of the residents in your ward, to experience firsthand the changes that are required to help your voters live healthier, happier lives on your watch.

To achieve this better future, we would urge you to use your position to follow progressive authorities like Cambridgeshire in implementing a ‘Decide and Provide’ approach to transport planning – demanding that the council’s traffic engineers and transport planners prioritise modal shift policy that has been in place for years and yet so often ignored to the detriment of us all. This is a political decision, and one that you have the option to make.

Walk Ride Stockport has members living and working in several wards along the A6, including established Walk Ride community groups in Hazel Grove, SK3, Marple/High Lane, and The Heatons, as well as groups located further away from the A6, like in Romiley, Gatley, and the Cheadles. Together, we would like to demonstrate firsthand why change is needed along the A6 and would really appreciate you taking the time to join us for this.

Infrastructure Safari invitation appendix & info pack

During the safari, we will invite you to consider how this infrastructure would improve our living environment across Stockport.

For example, comparison with what it is like to cycle along the A6 – a key, direct road through Stockport to Manchester in the north and Derbyshire in the south that links many of our communities, and why the current amount of walking and cycling trips (although rising steadily) is far lower than it would be if better footways and protected lanes were provided. For example, routes in the Greater Manchester area that have protected cycle lanes for active travel [1] are well-used – the Oxford Road/Wilmslow Road corridor lanes have seen large increases in trips by people both walking and cycling over the past year compared with previous years, and the Manchester-Chorlton cycleway has enabled cycling trips for many who wouldn’t usually cycle. We would also like to invite you to join a group cycle ride along the A6 to experience the difference in quality – and consequently uptake – by users across a variety of demographics.

Stockport’s own local plans (the Plan for Walking and Cycling in Stockport 2019-2029 lists “deliver new walking and cycling infrastructure along the A6” among its actions), along with regional and national guidance and other studies and evidence demonstrate the positive changes that can be enabled:

  • Gender equality and opportunity, including personal safety[2] and road safety[3]
  • Healthy starts to life, including enabling children to cycle safely to school – “I am reluctant to encourage young children to cycle on unsegregated roads.” (Clinical Director for Public Health at Stockport Clinical Commissioning Group)
  • Health and wellbeing by building exercise into daily routines – “If everyone did 30 minutes of exercise five times a week almost every single chronic disease would be reduced by 40%. If this was a pill we’d call it a wonder drug.”[3]
    ○ This is crucial in our borough, where “42.3% of adults and 86.4% of 15-year-olds […] are not physically active enough to maintain their health” (Plan for Walking and Cycling in Stockport 2019-2029).
  • Demand: “67% of Greater Manchester residents support building more protected roadside cycle lanes, even when this could mean less space for other road traffic.”[4]
  • Address congestion and air quality issues[5]
  • Supporting protected cycle routes (together with traffic management schemes in residential areas) is a proven vote-winner; conversely, opposing them is a proven vote-loser[6]
  • Policy drivers from central government via Gear Change (2020)[7]
    ○ 50% of journeys in towns and cities to be cycled or walked by 2030
    ○ Routes must be direct, continuous, and serve the places people actually want to go – e.g. to school, shops, work, visit family/friends, etc.

1. ‘Active travel’ is a term that includes several forms of ‘micro-mobility’ such as walking, and using scooters, wheelchairs or other mobility aids, tricycles, bicycles, mobility scooters, cargo bi/tri-cycles, hand cycles, and so on.
2. Studies have shown that the proportion of female users increases where protected lanes are installed, and in the Netherlands (and other countries where protected lanes have been installed along main, direct routes) women’s cycling mode share is higher than men’s.
Conversely, when currently many of Stockport’s cycle routes are off-road, through parks or diverted along dark, quiet streets with limited passive surveillance, not only are routes made to be indirect (which means they travel a longer distance than the direct route and it therefore takes a cyclist longer to get from A to B than it would if they used the direct route), but this is also an important equality and personal safety issue.
3. In the Bike Life Greater Manchester report in 2017, Dr Vicci Owen-Smith (Clinical Director for Public Health at Stockport Clinical Commissioning Group), states: “more and more people are cycling, but there are too many cars on the road. I am reluctant to encourage young children to cycle on unsegregated roads. I’ve been clipped by a bus twice going up the A6, and that’s a wide enough road to be segregated.” Owen-Smith adds that, “If everyone did 30 minutes of exercise five times a week almost every single chronic disease would be reduced by 40%. If this was a pill we’d call it a wonder drug.”
4. The Sustrans Bike Life report 2019 found that, “67% of Greater Manchester residents support building more protected roadside cycle lanes, even when this could mean less space for other road traffic.”
5. Stockport’s Plan for Walking and Cycling in Stockport 2019-2029 begins by saying, “Congestion is a major challenge in Stockport, impacting on residents and businesses and reducing the quality of environment for local communities. To address congestion there is an underlying need to reduce the number of journeys made by car, and increasing the levels of walking and cycling in Stockport is one way to do this. This will also impact positively on local health by improving air quality and increasing the amount of physical activity people do.”
6. Analysis after the May 2021 elections concludes that candidates in London wards that supported cycling infrastructure saw an increase in support – whereas candidates that opposed the right for residents to cycle safely tended to fare more badly. This was repeated in the 2023 elections. YouGov found in late 2020 that more than half of those asked supported UK government schemes, including new cycle lanes, to encourage people to cycle and walk more (56%), while a fifth opposed them (19%) and only a tenth strongly opposed them (10%).
7. Gear Change (2020) sets the ambition that, “Places will be truly walkable. A travel revolution in our streets, towns and communities will have made cycling a mass form of transit. Cycling and walking will be the natural first choice for many journeys with half of all journeys in towns and cities being cycled or walked by 2030.” As a direct route, the A6 needs treatment in order to facilitate a larger, quicker shift from using a car as the default, as explained in Gear Change: “The routes must be direct. They must be continuous, not giving up at the difficult places. They must serve the places people actually want to go – often major public transport corridors – and the journeys they actually want to make. If it is necessary to reallocate roadspace from parking or motoring to achieve this, it should be done.”

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