Last year, Manchester Friends of the Earth held a mini-festival on European Car Free Day on Exchange Street which Manchester City Council had arranged to be closed to traffic for the day.
MFoE were asked to give a presentation on their achievements to a regional conference on this year's "In Town Without My Car Day" (the new name for European Car Free Day). The group have also been putting pressure on the Council to meet to discuss their plans.
At the meeting called by the Council on Friday 12 July, the Council announced it be closing part of a major city centre (the Networking Newsletter Project has learned this is to be Deansgate (between St Ann Street and St Mary's Gate)) to all traffic on Sunday 22 September to celebrate In Town Without My Car Day. Manchester Friends of the Earth welcome this and hope it will be the first in a series of major road closures to restrict car traffic in the city centre.
Family fun at European Car Free Day in Manchester 2001
The Council are arranging a high quality craft market along this section on the day, plus some stalls for MFoE, Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign, Health Promotion, GMPTE etc. The conditions of signing up for ITWMC include opening some permanent schemes as well as a significant road closure. So, MCC and Sustrans plan to have the official opening of the entire length of the Fallowfield Loop that day. There will be a cycle ride from Deansgate out to the east end of the Loop, along its entire length and back into town from Chorlton, arriving there about 1400 hrs. Cllr Tom Lister is leading the arrangements for this part of the day, with Sustrans, GMCC and Friends of the Fallowfield Loop involved as well.
The other permanent scheme MCC/GMPTE hope to introduce is a new bus shuttle from Metrolink stations. This was due to start the following weekend, but they see it as a great opportunity to include it on ITWMC day and GMPTE people have undertaken to try and sort this out.
Commenting on this year's events, Manchester FoE's campaigner Dr. Michael Bane said, "Manchester Friends of the Earth welcomes the ambitious plans of local councils for In Town Without My Car Day. We're eager to see their fine words put into action, both for this event but also for longer term measures to reduce traffic on our roads. Public transport was a success during the Commonwealth Games and we're hopeful the authorities will continue to promote this as the clean alternative to driving into city centres."
Dick Venes, Hon Secretary of Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign (GMCC) is enthusiastic: "GMCC welcomes the higher profile being given to ITWMC day by Manchester City Council. The formal opening of the Manchester Urban Cycleway in conjunction with Sustrans marks the culmination of many years campaigning by GMCC and Friends of the Fallowfield Loop. We hope it marks the start of a significant increase in spending on cycling friendly infrastructure by all the Greater Manchester local authorities."
Councillor Neil Swannick, Deputy Executive Member for Planning, Transport and Environment on Manchester City Council, shares the aims of the European-wide In Town Without My Car campaign: "… towns and cities throughout Europe and the UK, will be demonstrating the benefits of leaving the car at home," he said. "Here in Manchester we want people to seriously consider how they can get into town without a car - either on foot or using a bike or public transport. By participating in this one day event, we hope that people will see how much more pleasant it is to be in the City Centre without traffic congestion and exhaust fumes, and, as a result, will choose other forms of transport when they visit the City Centre for work or play in the future."
Manchester Friends of the Earth (0161 834 8221, firstname.lastname@example.org)