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Photo by Livia Lazar

Tackle planning law as part of climate crisis

Our UK charity Sustrans has launched its own Manifesto to show how the next Government could support local authorities to reduce emissions from transport, which would have far-reaching health and social reforms too.

Transport accounts for 26% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions, with the main sources being petrol and diesel cars. In Manchester 30% of trips under 1km were made in the car. That’s just 15 minutes on foot. If more people could choose to leave their cars behind and walk or cycle their daily journeys carbon emissions would decline. We could also begin to tackle health problems related to physical inactivity and poor air quality. 

Bold action

Sustrans’ Manifesto calls on all political parties to take bold action on road transport emissions and prioritise funding for spaces for walking and cycling, to tackle the climate crisis for future generations. It highlights the need to make routes safer, greener, and more aesthetically pleasing and to remove incentives for driving. We also ask planners to stop agreeing to build out-of-town houses and shopping centres, making people dependant on cars, and increasingly cut-off and lonely.  

Photo by Chris Foster.Chris Boardman’s Bee Network proposal of 1800 miles of walking and cycling routes across Greater Manchester, sets the right level of ambition for UK towns and cities. The Network will connect with ‘active neighbourhoods’ in residential areas, where streets are prioritised for people over vehicles. Sustrans is working with Levenshulme Bee Network on the first of these neighbourhoods, to find out what issues Levenshulme schools and residents face on their streets and find ways to make roads safer and more attractive places for walking, cycling and socialising. 

Long term funding

The Network will help encourage thousands more people in the City region to feel more confident to leave their cars at home, but it needs long term funding and support from central Government. It will also be much more effective if people are actively disincentivised to drive and planners of new housing and developments change their ways too. 

Sustrans calls on the next UK Government to take on five main asks:

  • Provide sustained long-term investment in walking and cycling. This includes at least 5% of the transport budget to be spent on walking and cycling by 2020/21, rising to at least 10% before 2024/25; and £72m investment per year in the National Cycle Network.
  • Commit to a 20-minute neighbourhood planning principle for all cities and towns.
  • Transform the school journey to help children walk, cycle and scoot in safety and with confidence.
  • Ensure places are accessible for everyone to walk, cycle and wheel by implementing a 20mph default speed limit in all built-up areas and ban pavement parking.
  • Establish a UK-wide Greenways programme so that everyone has equal access to the natural environment. 

The next Government must show leadership to discouraging driving and curb transport emissions so walking and cycling are the easiest and most convenient options for more people in Greater Manchester, regardless of gender, age and abilities. Neighbourhoods where people live within a safe and pleasant 20-minute walk of everyday services will be critical to creating a healthy, zero-carbon future for everyone.


Photos by Livia Lazar and Chris Foster