In a week that has seen people across Greater Manchester panic buying fuel, two forward-thinking streets in Chorlton have closed off to local car traffic to start conversations on ways to reduce carbon emissions and to drive less locally.
Residents on Burrows Avenue and Westfield Road have signed up to take part in an ‘Open streets’ trial, where roads are re-prioritised for people over cars.
Neighbours on the streets are taking part in the week of change by reducing their own reliance on cars, pledging to walk, cycle or use public transport to work, school, or go to the shops.
Burrows Avenue opened the street for play and conversation from Monday to Wednesday (Sept 27-29) and Westfield Avenue from Thursday through to Saturday (Sept 30-Oct 2) and restricted through-traffic to act as a showcase on what changes people would like to see on their streets and get people talking about ‘who our streets are currently designed for?’
Burrows Avenue resident Mike Lever said: We’ve needed change on the street for a while. The number of cars that speed down this road is scary, especially at night when you feel it shaking the houses.
“These three days have been peaceful – the last time it was anything like this was the first lockdown. It’s given everyone on the street an opportunity to come out and chat again.”
Mary, long term resident on Burrows Avenue and supporter of the project added: “It’s for the kids this. They’ve never been able to play on the street because of the cars. And now look at them, all playing together.”
The project – the first of its kind in Manchester – is supported by Our Streets Chorlton with an aim of getting residents thinking about how they can re-imagine what could be possible on their streets when car traffic was not the main feature.
Daily activities have been taking place from 3pm until 7pm, including e-bike and cargo bike testers, talks on climate actions and the promotion of new car sharing schemes.
Data is being collected from residents across Chorlton through an interactive heatmap on the changes people would like to see to enable driving less. The findings will be shared with Manchester City Council to work on lasting solutions to reduce carbon emissions and get more cars off the road in Chorlton.
Project coordinator Pauline Jonhston said: “It has been so encouraging to see action taken by residents on these two streets. We worked with the streets to develop and deliver a project that they care about and can get behind.
“It could not be more apt timing with people panic buying fuel. There are many alternatives to getting in the car that are better for individual health, air quality, our pockets and our planet.
“The residents here are making the case for change here and elsewhere by leaving their cars at home and trying out sustainable forms of transport.
“Hats off to Manchester City Council and our local councillors for being supportive of the project. It’s a first for Manchester that roads have been closed for three consecutive days with a play street permit and no on-street marshalling required. Only barriers and road closure signage used so that opens up opportunities to try it elsewhere too.
“In all weather, residents have got together to socialise, engage in conversations about climate change and re-imagining a neighbourhood that is less dependent on cars to get about. Now we have more data that can be shared and positive feedback, we can look at longer-term solutions to reduce unnecessary short and local car trips, leaving the streets clear for the people that need to use cars.”
Our Streets Chorlton is a community led project funded by the National Lottery’s Climate Action Fund.