Physical inactivity is one of the world’s leading causes for poor health, while air pollution is a major environmental concern in cities throughout the world. These are also two important issues that are high on the agenda in Greater Manchester. And one solution to combat both of these challenges could lie in implementing healthy, active and sustainable transport options within our city region.
The Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040, which sets out the vision for what travel could look like in 20 years, has a clear ambition to make half of all journeys car-free by 2040. This could have a profound impact on travel in our region, and the lives and health of the people that live here.
If we look for inspiration overseas, France is a fantastic example of a country that is actively encouraging its citizens to embrace more sustainable travel options. In May it launched a €20 million scheme to promote cycling, which includes making everyone eligible for up to €50 worth of bike repairs, as well as free cycle training and temporary parking spaces within its cities.
It’s clear that sustainable travel is becoming increasingly important. Through the delivery of routes that encourage active travel, such as improved cycling and walking infrastructure, as well as the implementation of efficient and well-connected public transport networks, we hope that Crossford Bridge Community Sports Village could have a positive impact on the physical and environmental health of our communities.
As a region, we have a responsibility to consider the impact of how we get around, so let’s take a look at the ways that a sustainable transport system around Crossford Bridge could benefit Greater Manchester.
The environmental impact
Transport is responsible for a third of carbon emissions in Greater Manchester, and while most people know that walking, cycling, or taking public transport is better for the environment, it can be difficult to integrate these options into everyday life if certain routes aren’t nearby.
Interestingly, thanks to smart decisions made by the local authorities, around 70% of Greater Manchester’s Metrolink system is powered by wind or solar sources, while the rest is from other sources like recycling waste and water power. Here in Sale, we are lucky to have so many sustainable transport links, including the Metrolink, on our doorstep.
A sporting hub that champions public transport and facilitates other sustainable travel options in and around Sale could create even more viable options for everyone within the community.
The physical impact
Unfortunately, half of all journeys made in Greater Manchester are less than two kilometres in length, yet 38% of these short trips are made by car. At Crossford Bridge, there is an opportunity to create the conditions that make these journeys easier by healthier means, such as walking and cycling.
Once again, it is useful to turn to those cities paving the way for healthy travel infrastructure. Copenhagen is consistently ranked among the world’s most bike-friendly cities. It achieves this through continued investment in infrastructure. Incredibly, in 2018, bikes outnumbered cars by more than five-to-one in Copenhagen. This no doubt contributes to the city ranking as one of the healthiest cities in Europe, boasting the second highest quality of life and second lowest CO2 emissions.
COVID-19 has made all of us increasingly aware of our health, and now is the time to invest in our infrastructure to enable the Greater Manchester community to make healthier choices. Research commissioned by Sport England in April, found that 62% of adults say it’s more important to be active now compared to before the pandemic, while 65% say that sport is helping them with their mental health during this difficult time.
We have an opportunity to implement change that positively impacts Greater Manchester for generations. Following feedback from the community in the first phase of consultation detailed transport and movement plans for Crossford Bridge Community Sports Village will be created. These will focus on making greener, more active transport a practical choice for people across the region. The aim is for this to encourage people to live healthier, more activity lifestyles, hopefully reducing our carbon footprint as a result.