At 2pm next Wednesday, (24th June), elected councillors will meet online to scrutinise the (in) actions of Manchester City Council. They will have the opportunity to ask specific questions about the progress of pop-up cycle lanes to the Executive Member for the Environment, Planning and Transport, and also (probably) a senior officer.
You can read more about the cycle lanes issue here, here, here and here. The short version is this: right now, it seems Manchester City Council is simply not interested in collaborating with other councils who are busy installing temporary (and cheap) cycle lanes so that people who do not have cars and don’t want to use public transport can get from A to B to C. The Council claims this is because they have plans for (longer-term) permanent cycling provision that somehow means that they don’t need to act now. It’s a straightforward social justice issue – people who can’t drive or afford cars, the disabled, those who can’t walk far – are going to have to crowd back onto buses and trams, walk or go without. For those who need to use public transport, this puts them at greater risk of catching COVID-19 and all the consequences that this entails.
Here’s what you can do.
Before the meeting
Write to the councillors on the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee (NESC). You can find out who they are here. Explain that you want them to ask short, specific questions about what is and is not being done about pop-up cycle lanes for commuters and cyclists both within Manchester City Council’s boundaries and on routes in from other local authorities.
Urge them to seek specific commitments from the relevant Executive Member and senior officers for regular (e.g. weekly) clear and public announcements about what is being done where (e.g. a website page that is updated, and regular tweets).
Emphasise that fob-offs, distractions and vague promises to “get back at a later date” would be an insult to people who need to know what is being done to make traveling safer for people who do not have the privilege of a car.
On the day
CEM will be holding an online pre-meeting about the NESC, from 1.30pm. The purpose of that pre-meeting is to give you the latest info we have about the issue, but also explain what happens in a scrutiny meeting (they can be deeply confusing and odd).
Watch the meeting from 2pm, either live or once it has been archived. The link to the agenda and webcast is here – https://democracy.manchester.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=148&MId=3385
If you are watching it live, you can perhaps also tweet – we will be using the hashtag #cyclelanesjustice
After the meeting
Once you have watched the meeting, write to any councillors you think have done a good job, thanking them for what they have done
(yes, they are “paid” – but not that much, and if they have done a good job, then saying thank you is going to make them more likely to be bolder and clearer in future.)
You can commit to keeping tabs on what progress is actually made – whatever is and is not promised – through keeping in touch with your councillors, and using the Freedom of Information Act if you need to…
Also, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE connect with other people who are taking an active interest in cycle lanes and also more broadly climate issues. Manchester urgently needs a diverse, wide network of individuals and organisations tackling the political and bureaucratic inertia and waffle that has plagued the city these last ten plus years. You can also contact us at email@example.com – we have loads of different tasks, big and small, requiring all levels of expertise or none, which need doing. We’d love to hear from you.