Manchester City Centre Active Travel & Permeability Strategy

Manchester City Centre Active Travel & Permeability Strategy

The Challenge

SYSTRA were appointed by TfGM to undertake a Permeability and Active Travel study for the centre of Manchester, including the area covered by the University of Manchester. This is part of the development of a new overarching Greater Manchester Transport Strategy for 2040 which TfGM are developing in partnership with Manchester City Council (MCC) and Salford City Council (SCC). The overall objective is to develop a long-term strategy for improving transport in Manchester City Centre in order to support significant economic growth and regeneration; improved quality of life for all those who live or work in the city centre, as well as those who visit for leisure purposes; and to provide a better built and natural environment.


The Permeability and Active travel study provides a high level baseline of the conditions for walking and cycling in the city centre and in conjunction with other work streams will explore how the need for movement around the city centre by all modes of transport can be integrated with the enhancement of the city centre as a place. SYSTRA are also considering the implications of anticipated growth, including the impact of HS2, on the demand for walking and cycling.

A number of key issues for walking and cycling were identified. The links from the key stations into the city centre are a particular issue both from the perspective of pedestrian congestion but also from the perspective of the ease of use of these routes. Other key issues include the barrier that is presented by the ring road, current speeds and lack of comfort and priority for walking and cycling. The lack of wayfinding also presents a challenge to moving around the city on foot in particular.

We developed a high level strategy for improving the walking and cycling environment which includes the need for the development of a clear hierarchy of streets and spaces where walking and cycling are prioritised in the City Centre ‘core’. Precedent examples have also been used to illustrate how key problems such as addressing the barriers presented by the ring road and railway viaducts can be addressed. The strategy also identifies the approaches and projects that will need to be developed to deliver the strategy. This included setting out the strategic business case for investing in the public realm and actives modes infrastructure in the city centre.

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