On Saturday 27th June 2020 at 12.00pm residents of areas adjoining the A6/Stockport Road will take to the pavements to protest inaction on pop-up cycle lanes in Manchester. The action, organised by residents and representatives of environmental groups across Manchester, will see protesters lining the pavements of the A6 towards Manchester city centre, starting from the Antiques Village in Levenshulme in what is being described as “a safe, socially distanced chain of people and bikes”.
The protest follows what organisers call “inaction” by Manchester City Council in response to government guidance for local authorities, which requires that more space be provided for walking and cycling in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Other councils across Greater Manchester have responded to the call by instigating “pop up” lanes along arterial routes into the city. However, Manchester City Council have declined to participate, leaving significant gaps in cycling provision, including for residents in communities along the A6, where dedicated cycle lanes will only be available across the border in Stockport.
With public transport running at 10% capacity while social distancing measures remain in place, train and bus routes into the city already overstretched prior to the pandemic, and shops and workplaces now slowly opening within the city, commuters face a stark choice. Without dedicated cycle lanes on the A6, they must choose to either commute by car – contributing to already-illegal levels of air pollution on the route , risk their safety by cycling on roads that were already overcrowded before what is anticipated to be a significant uptick in traffic, or risk their own health and public safety by crowding onto the public transport network.
The residents, who organised the protest argue that the choice is particularly stark in communities like those alongside the A6, where car ownership is low and a significant BAME population– who are at greater risk of becoming very sick with COVID-19 than other groups – reside.
The protest organisers said:
There can be no doubt whatsoever that this is a social justice issue. Communities who have already suffered disproportionately at the hands of Covid-19 are now having this injustice further compounded by the inaction of a council who are supposed to have their best interests at heart. We call on Manchester City Council to urgently review this decision – we will continue to make our feelings known until they do.
A representative from the Friends of Levenshulme Station added:
We are sadly aware that trains, the sustainable transport choice for many living in South Manchester, will be off the menu for the foreseeable future. We strongly support action to ensure that Levenshulme’s commuters are able to access safe alternatives that do not contribute to the air pollution on our roads.
[the above is a press release from A6 Cycle Action]