47 Comments

long time since I've been on Parsonage Road and I don't know what I think about this particular LTN, but I'll say one thing: the guy who says that roads are not for walking as that is what footpaths are for... Ok mate, how about from now on traffic wardens ticket every single car in South Manchester that parks on a pavement. I'm up for that, are you?

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I was about to make a similar comment. I spend more time walking on the road to get around parked cars than I do on the footpath.

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That’s one of the main things that nearly gets me angry!

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As a resident in the area, the scheme has been brilliant. There's no more rat-running, no more boy racers using the streets as a race track each night, it's much calmer due to reduced volume of car traffic meaning a safer environment for all the kids going to school (there's 3 primary schools within walking distance) and encourages walking and cycling.

I've found the "no to safer streets" campaign completely disheartening if I'm honest - not primarily because of their opposition to the trial but the level of dishonestly in their campaign. They just recycle the same "myths" on social media like "no-one was consulted" (there was a 2 year consultation process) or "there are better solutions" (like what exactly? they won't expand of what these areas other than spurious claims about speed bumps) or "these schemes don't work" (but all the actual evidence says they do). If you ever bring up any of these points with them - as lots of people have tried on the FB group, you just get shouted down.

I'm not expecting everyone to agree with the trial but there's a significant portion of their supporters who are just ideologically opposed to the trial - because it's imposing a short additional delay on some of their car journeys - and are hiding their real preferences behind faux outrage about "community impact".

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It was the same with the Clean Air Zone, those opposed claimed they weren't told anything about it despite there being a publicised consultation process, it makes their opposition appear somewhat disingenuous to say the least!

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Oct 23, 2023Liked by Joshi Herrmann

Really good piece and the last paragraph really sums up the opportunity and the challenge... striving for more liveable streets and fewer cars on the roads is definitely worth the struggle (in fact it's imperative), we just need to take people with us and not be surprised if they push back if they think change is being done to them, not with them.

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author

Thanks Steve.

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I frequently visit Parsonage Road. My grandchildren can now walk safely to school, to the post office to buy sweets, to the houses of their nearby friends and learn greater independence. The air pollution at the school is less. These things are far more important than me having to drive a bit further or catch the bus. How many of those objecting are those who drove down Parsonage Road and Heaton Road well over 20mph? 2 people have died on one of the roads. How many of the objectors are those who waited on the road running their polluting engines, on double yellow lines, across peoples drives, across the children’s crossing? Blame themselves if they don’t like what has been done to improve the area. Parents collecting children in cars for school have long been a problem. Nothing to do with class - most to do with safety of our all of children and cyclists.

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I know that you stumbled onto what you described as a protest Josh on what was your day off and perhaps that is why the standard of journalism was more superficial than might have been expected from The Mill. In fact it was a gathering of 70 people opposed to what is euphemistically known as the Parsonage safer roads scheme and was requested as a photo call by the Manchester Evening News to accompany an article which remarkably, given it is a tabloid, was more balanced than what you have hastily thrown together. Most particularly I take offence at your attention grabbing headline "I was literally manhandled and my banner violently thrown to the floor"

since it bears no relation to reality. (But hey why let the truth get in the way of a good caption?) The woman who made this claim turned up unannounced with the sole purpose of disrupting the peaceful and good natured event and her accusation is wildly off the mark. She walked in front of someone who knocked her slightly as they went past. They should have noticed this and apologised but she did walk into their path. She then insinuated herself into the middle of the group and tried to pull down the banner people were holding and knock placards out of their hands. At one point another of her supporters - because apparently it is a total affront to them to suggest we have any right to a different point of view " - even went as far as to shout out "child killers" at us. Over the last two months people who have suggested the scheme is flawed, makes Parsonage Rd quieter at the expense of smaller streets, has led to unprecedented traffic build ups on major roads surrounding the maze and led to a loss of jobs at the Post office (among many other issues) have been vilified and insulted. One councillor referred to us as a mob, we have been told we are selfish and ill informed and that we do not care for the safety of children, ignoring the large number of families with children who have not bought into this badly thought out scheme. We find the consultation process marred and undemocratic and have marshalled 8 pages of detailed and thoughtful observations on the scheme which we have also posted to the feedback process though there is little to suggest this is anything but a paper exercise. I also emailed the document to you because as a Mill subscriber I did expect this issue would be treated to an impartial and fair treatment which went a little below the surface. Your response has been a big disappointment - but as you said you merely stumbled across us (though I wrote to you about this scheme initially two months ago) so we have just got the superficial treatment where things can look good on the surface unless you dig a little deeper. And what a pity you missed the rat runner who contrary to those who mistakenly believe that Parsonage Road has become a pedestrianised haven (forgetting perhaps it is still open to cars) screeched down Alan Road and onto Parsonage going at a speed of at least 70 miles per hour shortly after people dispersed, though there were other witnesses. At the time I was engaged in a discussion with the Withington constituency Labour Party secretary about how introducing chicanes and speed bumps could slow traffic more effectively while still allowing access and egress only to witness this abject example of the failure of the barriers to contain this irresponsible speed merchant. Despite the evidence of his own eyes this had little effect on my companion who can only recognise one point of view. Yes, I was the person who wanted us ALL to have safer streets instead of this botched mess which is Draconian in application Divisive in character and as I witnessed still very Dangerous. Incidentally 57 LTNs have already been removed and a number more adapted for similar reasons. This scheme is not bedding in-quite the contrary. We will continue till we get a scheme which improves safety for the many not the few, though I am aware this is no longer a slogan with any traction within the ranks of the Labour Party.

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What is “ euphemistic” about the phrase “Parsonage safer road scheme”?

It IS safer! For pedestrians, cyclists, residents.

Your solution of chicanes and humps only addresses one problem- speeding. It does not address the problems of people parking illegally, on pavements, across people’s drives and even across the children’s crossing! It does not address the problem of air pollution, especially by people sitting in their cars with their diesel engines running, near to schools.

I am not a member of the Labour Party. This isn’t “ politics “. It’s about the safety of our children and air pollution affecting not just children but vulnerable adults.

I don’t live there and it’s only taken me a couple of journeys to find an alternative route as I visit a house there. There is a map which can be provided by local Councillors. Everyone will get used to it and drive on the main roads of Mauldeth and Wilmslow Rd instead. THEN they can go at 30 mph!!

If someone drives at 70 mph as you’ve described then take the reg and phone the police.

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A euphemism is where you use an innocuous word in place of something unpleasant you wish to disguise. The scheme you are defending calls itself the Parsonage safer roads scheme yet it neither makes Parsonage Road safer as the rat runner who tore down it last Saturday demonstrated ,nor does it just affect Parsonage Road. Instead it exports its traffic problems to the whole surrounding area who now have roads rendered increasingly unsafe. I also am genuinely confused by people who talk about it being safer to walk or for children to play in the street since the scheme has not pedestrianised it and presumably people on Parsonage Road with cars also drive down it too. The problem of parked cars on pavements is certainly an issue that needs addressing. I never really understand if people have drives why they need to park on the road and that would reduce the problem at least to an extent if those that could took their cars off the road. I am glad your visit to a single house in the area has not caused you much delay. Unfortunately for people like delivery drivers working ridiculous shifts delay for every delivery leads to an inevitable backlog. Of course they should not have to work like that but for many not only is a vehicle necessary for their work but where many calls are made in a day each individual delay mounts up. The same applies to Carers. Not just that but the planters do not address the problem of air pollution either - they increase it because far more people are now travelling further. With more cars with engines idling in traffic jams on the main roads they are forced onto, emissions are increasing not decreasing.

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There is a contradiction in terms here. SUVs diesel or otherwise on the school run create pollution but, a longer journey inevitably uses more fuel causing more fumes, especially for those living on main roads and increased fumes caused by idling more in traffic, which increases fumes for cyclists as Cycle lanes are on the busiest routes in the main. Manchester CC needs a better approach and to REALLY consult, not just a few streets. None of this makes and difference however as a flawed long term strategy was developed years ago which as we can see across Manchester is causing chaos. Make it law, and enforceable that it is illegal to park on footpaths. Decrease the trend for over sized vehicles in urban settings (global profiteering sadly wont change), and everyone stop this head wobbling. Visit countries were there is an integrated PUBLIC bus, tram, rail, cycle network, that is very cheap and then we might get somewhere if we adopt those policies. Sticking planters ie: sticking plasters doesnt work, it just moves the problem, and pray you dont need emergency services.

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Suvs and other vehicles as appropriate.

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I’m glad you included reference to the support for the Safer Streets scheme. There are as many supporters as those who oppose. The census shows that 30% of people in Withington do not have access to a car. That’s really important to be aware of in this debate.

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I am afraid your claim that the scheme has majority support is shot through with holes. Not only was the scheme pushed through with the support of only 12% of the households consulted (and some streets affected by the scheme were never included in the so called consultation process) but those involved in the initial discussions that shaped this scheme reduce to a handful - and they had to apply to go on a Zoom call and were told the numbers were restricted. The whole scheme was driven by a petition of just 52 people and their claim to have priority on the basis of the level of traffic accidents is not supported either by the figures. The views of 88% of the residents this scheme affects are not known nor were the views of many requiring vehicular access to the whole estate garnered such as the emergency services who find the practical problems it has caused a nightmare. The petition to remove road closures and find a better alternative for safer roads already has 1,300 signatories and grows daily. This is very much a case of a minority led scheme imposed on a much larger majority and for this reason alone is unacceptable and undemocratic.

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Plus, the petition has been shared in multiple anti-LTN groups nationally. So there’s no validity to the signatures coming from local people. In my view it should be completely discounted.

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Hi Hazel, it’s pretty clear from the Withington Facebook groups that opinions are evenly split. You must have seen them. The ones against are shouting the loudest, but the support is definitely out there. There are also multiple ‘groups’ forming who support the scheme and wish for it to continue.

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Oct 26, 2023·edited Oct 26, 2023

Opinions are certainly split, but there are solutions that could be found if some consensus was sought. Instead anyone who does not wholeheartedly support the draconian measures introduced by a minority, unprepared to consider alternatives, forces the issue and divides the community more and more. Derogatory and offensive comments have become the norm for those defending the planters against those who do not buy into the scheme or find it flawed. How is this helping a resolution?

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Oct 24, 2023·edited Oct 24, 2023

I always get the impression the flames are stoked on the LTNs by the MEN and the Reach plc's of this world as it generates more click throughs and therefore revenue, in their piece they spoke to someone who was against it because his drive to West Didsbury Metrolink (which doesn't have dedicated parking fyi) was increased from five to ten minutes and can't help but think that he and others are whipped up into such a frenzy that they continually miss the point - that is precisely what an LTN should do, it's supposed to make driving more unattractive and push other forms of transport to become more attractive (Parsonage Road is in between Europe's busiest bus corridor and Mauldeth Road train station, it's ideally situated to encourage modal shift away from the car).

As always these days it becomes a culture war type issue just like CAZ and ULEZ, market research typically shows the majority are in favour of it, it's just as stated in the article it means that more moderate voices become drowned out by others from more entrenched views (and it also means that those who *may* have more legitimate concerns like the Post Office owner who's footfall has decreased get conflated with less justified opposition to the scheme).

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founding

Streets are for People.......we all need help and encouragement to walk and cycle more and drive less for personal health, better air quality and countering climate change. Low Traffic Neighbourhoods along with lower bus fares are a vital part of this process. I am a cycle instructor and have worked at St Paul's School in Withington training their children to ride competently and confidently on local roads including to school. The LTN will make it easier for this to happen. Car ownership in the Netherlands and Germany is as high as here but they cycle in much greater numbers - blessed by lower speed limits and well developed cycle infrastructure. In the UK we are sadly very car dependent. But change is possible. In Waltham Forest, east London there was fierce resistance to a Borough-wide LTN. Now all enjoy the benefits of "Little Holland" and the original opponents have no desire to return to the car-dominated past. The Parsonage LTN has been in place for less than three months but could be a shining example to Greater Manchester and beyond. I urge Withingtonians to be patient, local councillors to hold their nerve. Vincent Walsh, Birch-in-Rusholme

PS Happy to provide bulbs for your planters.......will deliver by bike (we gave up our car years ago!).

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Glad that you can give up your car. My work prohibits that, as does the fact that I am a carer for two elders, unless you propose I cycle on the M60, M61 and M55. Sadly we dont a a Dutch system, more pity us and this and successive and consecutive governments wont oblige because the transport system is privatised. Profit does not equate to people centred well being on this crucial topic.

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The demonisation of the car driver continues with virtue signalling from those who have a work, leisure life style where they can walk or cycle. Rather than this divide and conquer wouldn't it be better to have a better over all plan for public transport. If your neighbour has to use their car for work do you dismiss them? Genuine question. Creating such friction, and animosity where there is such disharmony everywhere does nothing for neighbourhoods. It simply moves the problem. MCC is appalling at town planning, transport is no better. The transport minister needs to study Holland's system and the govt stop issuing licenses to drill for oil. What a contradiction. Demonise individual drivers but dont penalise the big corporates or support renewables. Time to calm down, change strategy and smell the coffee.

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I think this is unusually a really shallow and one sided piece, it reads like a comment or op ed.

I live on one of the affected streets (Delaine) which has now become a thoroughfare for west to east traffic of Wilmslow Road. Cars still speed down Heaton Road (the main danger on this side of the affected area) but my road is now less safe for my kids.

What is actually needed is proper traffic calming to slow everything down. The planters just concentrate or shift the issues elsewhere.

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Driving down Kingsway I remembered I had to stop off in Withington so turned off, assuming I could find my way through. I suddenly came across a line of planters across the road.. Annoyed, I attempted a detour to be met with another row of wooden sentries.. I asked a pedestrian who grumbled and said I'd be lucky to get through. Round and round I went, disorientated and confused as I met more lines of bloody planters. Eventually someone pointed out the escape route.

Of course this Kafkaesque experience for me has worked for others. 1. I will never, as long as I live, turn hopefully off Kingsway again. 2. If I lived on these particular roads I would think the plan a great idea.

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Yeah that sounds infuriating. Would that issue be resolved by GPS/phone map software knowing where the planters are? Or do you not use those things?

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Don't have one although my son tells me I could use my phone. I enjoy a sense of adventure normally.

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I suspect, given that much of Withington was built before mass car ownership, that the roads are there for horses pulling carriages, not for cars. But then I read the Mill and I don't drive, so I'm probably a middle class eco warrior!

I do find it amusing that the Post Office man talks about reduced 'footfall' resulting from the fact that it is now more pleasant to arrive on foot, and more difficult to arrive by car.

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Yes two people have lost their jobs. Hilarious.

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People can say anything. I simply don't believe that two jobs have been lost without any supporting evidence.

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This stuff does affect local businesses though - see the Facebook comments from barbakan covered in the MEN at the weekend about what’s going on in Chorlton and the fact they’ve lowered hours and lost staff as well. Fine if you feel that’s a price worth paying for the underlying aim, but no need for anyone to make smartarse comments about it.

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Sorry Lee, wasn’t meant as a smartarsed anything, just an observation on the use of a word.

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Had the same thought

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I live on a road not far from here which is used as a major rat run, I walk to school with my two daughters and it’s a really unpleasant experience due to a mix of pavement parking and people trying to cut out traffic on the main road adjacent. I would absolutely love to see something like this brought in here and would fight tooth and nail to protect if it ever happened.

Ultimately it’s still early days and I imagine supporters / MCC will say there will be a period of adjustment whilst people get used to it and the important thing will be for the council to listen to concerns and make changes rather than get rid of it.

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'I walk to school with my two daughters and it’s a really unpleasant experience due to a mix of pavement parking and people trying to cut out traffic on the main road adjacent' - yep this feels like the thing that needs to be improved. So many streets just don't feel at all pleasant to walk down, so inevitably people would rather drive.

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In 2021 16,654 pedestrians were injured, seriously injured or killed on our streets (government statistics). My road is 20 mph. Almost no one drives at 20 - frequently cars drive down my road at 40. I have been told by 'careful' drivers that 25 mph is acceptable in a 20 mph road. If (as I have) you have done a speed awareness course (or just read the Highway Code) you will know that 20 is not the obligatory speed - it is the MAXIMUM. Most often it is still too fast. There is a reason why our streets are empty - why you don't see children playing on them - they are just too dangerous. Almost everybody speeds (government statistics - look it up). Why is it considered radical to want to live in a place were children can walk safely to school? More LTNs please. And traffic calming on all other roads, lower speed limits and enforcement. Lets make Manchester a Low Traffic City

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Retailers having been making arguments about footfall going back years now, as least as far as 1962 when the main street in Copenhagen was pedestrianised [1]. They have been wrong just as long. For instance Sastre et al. (2013) in a study on pedestrianisation in Spain report that cities around the world saw increases in commercial activity ranging from 13 to 40% following pedestrianisation (Fig 7)[2].

1. https://globaldesigningcities.org/publication/global-street-design-guide/streets/pedestrian-priority-spaces/pedestrian-only-streets/pedestrian-streets-case-study-stroget-copenhagen/ Pedestrian activity increased by 35% in the first year.

2. Sastre, J., Sastre, A. M., Gamo, A. M., & Gaztelu, T. (2013). “Economic impact of pedestrianisation in historic Urban Centre, the Valdemoro Case – Study (Spain).” Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 104, 737–745. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.11.168

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Thanks for the mention Joshi. I'm looking forward to reading The Dispatch and commenting on issues that affect Birmingham and the West Midlands similar to those raised in Monday's briefing. Wherever we live we are affected by traffic problems and soon there'll be all sorts of goings on local to me under the banner of 'improvements' to infrastructure. The bottom line is there are too many cars in a country that's sticking its head in the sand as regards to efficient and truly public transport.

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