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Manchester Active Travel walking and cycling scheme axed amid Wythenshawe residents’ concerns

The Wythenshawe Active Travel Scheme was designed to make walking and cycling easier but residents disagreed.

Plans to improve walking and cycling in Manchester have been pulled after residents said the scheme would not make walking and cycling any easier.

Manchester city council has closed a consultation on the Wythenshawe Active Travel Scheme after receiving hundreds of responses from local residents.

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The council had initially proposed creating a continuous route from Chorlton Park to Manchester Airport with links to Wythenshawe Park and the hospital.

But the latest proposal for the fund worth £1.5m just featured two bus gates –stretches of road which are only open to buses, black cabs and pedal cycles.

Cycling in Manchester Credit: Manchester city council

The council ended its consultation on the latest plans earlier than expected and withdrew the proposal after receiving nearly 600 responses in 15 days.

In an email to respondents, the council said any future proposals would be shared with local people via the website, social media and local mailings.

It said: “It is clear that local residents have been keen to comment on the scheme and understandably they want their opinions to be taken on board.

“The responses have raised concerns that the proposals will not make walking and cycling easier in their local area.

“Given the high number of responses and the feeling that the proposals may need to be reworked, we have decided to withdraw the proposals, end the consultation and end the online event.

“In the meantime, we will review the proposals for the new walking and cycling routes in Wythenshawe and explore how the Active Travel Fund can be used in the most appropriate way for local residents.”

The council had said the scheme would improve and provide new dedicated cycling and walking infrastructure from Simonsway, crossing Hollyhedge Road, down Hall Lane, through Wythenshawe Park and to Chorlton Water Park.

This route also ties into the Airport via a link at Simonsway to the east – picking up the town centre – and the Wythenshawe Hospital cycle link to the west.

However, the latest consultation launched a year later simply suggested two bus gates near Baguley Park – one in Floatshall Road and another in Hall Lane.

Sam Tate, who describes himself as an active travel advocate, said the initial route proposed was a ‘great idea’, but he was disappointed with the new plans.

The Chorlton resident also suspects some drivers were against the scheme.

He said: “Delivering sections of the route with a low traffic neighbourhood (LTN) would have been an effective way to make existing roads safe and attractive for walking and cycling, but these LTNs needed connecting to other parts of the route via crossings and cycleways.

“A few disjointed bus gates were unlikely to have much effect, apart from making the roads in that estate much safer as the LTNs in Beswick, Longford, and Levenshulme have done.”

Floatshall Road, Wythenshawe. Pictured in November 2020. Credit: Google

Council sources say the £1.5m was ‘only ever for a small part’ of the proposal and it would not be enough for the whole route from Chorlton to the Airport.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service understands there is still an ambition to deliver this route but in stages and in consultation with residents in the area.

The two recently proposed bus gates were unlikely to have required the full £1.5m, but any underspend could have been reallocated to other schemes.

A Manchester City Council spokesperson said: “The council undertook an initial consultation in May 2021 where we asked for suggestions about how we could make improvements which would encourage people to walk and cycle more in Wythenshawe. And we received lots of useful feedback.

“The criteria for what we can spend the Active Travel Fund on is quite specific, and the most recent consultation focused on one area, which would reduce traffic and make walking and cycling in that neighbourhood more attractive.

“The consultation process has now been paused while the proposals are reviewed in line with feedback we have received from local people – and consider how we can best invest our limited funding to encourage more people to choose walking and cycling.

“However, the council continues to have ambitious plans to invest in walking and cycling routes in Wythenshawe and we are currently exploring options ways to do this.”