Pavements for People

Do you park on the pavement or have a wayward front garden? Please spare a thought for friends and neighbours who want – and need – to use the pavement unimpeded, says Glynis Francis of Walk Ride Chorlton. 

Hands up who wants to grow old in Chorlton? I certainly do – this is where my family and friends live. I’ve walked, run, cycled and driven here for most of my life. 

Future-proofing getting around Chorlton is challenging, but with only 55.5% of Manchester people owning a car these days, there’s plenty of talk about giving up car ownership. Making our streets more much accessible for walkers, cyclists and people with limited mobility – together with the called-for improvements to public transport –  is perhaps more important than ever. 

Sean, Manchester born and bred, is 84 and partially sighted. He lives on Edge Lane and goes out for a walk every day. He’s determined to keep doing so for as long as possible, because he knows it helps keep him mobile and in better health than many others his age. 

Your heart then sinks when he tells you the things he has to remember. There are the unkempt holly bushes with branches at eye level; there are the lamp-posts in the middle of the pavement and there are forests of carelessly-returned empty bins that block the footpaths every Wednesday. He also has to find his way round cars parked on the pavement. Despite those challenges, lifelong walker Sean – an inspiration – is still out there. 

In London, pavement parking is illegal unless it’s in a designated parking space. A recent inquiry by the Government’s Transport Committee into the problems of pavement parking is recommending a London-style ban in Manchester.

I can already hear the cheers of Chorlton’s walkers; its children and young people; its pedestrians; its mobility scooter and wheelchair users; its baby-buggy pushers and child minders and its postal workers.

Meanwhile, people like Sean (and the Chorlton couple pictured above) will keep walking. They understand why people sometimes park on pavements, but they are always grateful when drivers leave enough space for them to pass by safely together, instead of being forced out into the road. 

As you can see, the space they need to walk together and support each other is pretty much the full width of this pavement – approximately two metres or six-and-a-half feet in old money. That also happens to be the same space that two wheelchairs users need to be able to go out together or pass in different directions. 

If you would like to get more actively involved in making Chorlton the best place to breathe, walk and ride around and even grow old in, join the Walk Ride Chorlton Face Book page. 

The group is looking at closing some roads to through-traffic (except for bicycles and pedestrians) as in Cundiff Road and South Meade. They’re also looking at the use more one-way systems, like we have on Brundretts, Warwick and Keppel Roads. It seems that drivers are less likely to park on the pavements of one-way streets. 

We are part of a Greater Manchester Walk Ride campaign to address air pollution by making walking and cycling the natural choice for everyday journeys across the region. The campaign has four priority themes: Bikes on Metrolink; Traffic-free town centre; Civilise the school run, and Pavements for people, not parking. 

Find out more at @WalkRideGM.

This article originally appeared in Open Up Chorlton magazine, July-August 2019.