Chris Boardman says that he and colleagues at Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and at local authorities across the city-region will resist intimidation from people who have vandalised or moved planters used to block streets to rat-running drivers as part of the creation of low traffic neighbourhoods.
As we reported on Friday, footage even emerged online taken inside a vehicle being used by its driver to ram one of the planters, which had been installed in the Levenshulme Active Neighbourhood at the start of the week.
— James Stafford (@Jamesdestafford) January 7, 2021
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Boardman, who is Greater Manchester’s cycling and walking commissioner, said it was “understandable” that some people were resistant to such schemes, but underlined that the way to ensure their voices were heard was to do so through consultations.
“I hope that the people of Levenshulme are willing to give it a chance and see what happens when people are given the choice of not having to drive or allowing our kids to safely play in the streets,” said Boardman.
“A lot of this is new territory – it has never been done before on this scale.It’s going to be a year of people saying that they didn’t know about it as they begin to notice and pay attention to what’s happening.”
Regarding the damage to planters on Delamere Road shortly after they were installed last week, he said: “We’re looking into it as it’s just straight vandalism of public property.
“There’s no way we’re going to be intimidated by a few vandals who want to stop something that benefits the vast majority of residents.
“If people don’t agree with it then fine, but they need to tell us in a consultation. We cannot tolerate people just damaging public property because they don’t like it.
“That’s not what democracy is – we shouldn't stand for it.”
The local authority, Manchester City Council, has now anchored the planters to the road surface, and bollards are also being put in place at a number of places to stop motorists from going onto the pavement to try and get round them.
According to Boardman, one of the advantages of such schemes is that they can be fine-tuned.
He said: “I’m a massive fan of temporary measures. I think we should try before we buy.
“Let’s try it, but do it properly, for six months – a meaningful amount of time. Let’s then assess it and see if we want to change it or take it out.
“If this isn’t going to make lives better, we shouldn’t be doing it. But to know if it’s going to make lives better, we need to be willing to try something different.”
Manchester City Council’s executive member for the environment, planning and transport, Councillor Angeliki Stogia, commented: “This six-month trial will provide evidence to show how an active neighbourhood scheme works in practice for Levenshulme and was always intended to be responsive to residents' feedback.
“We know that some members of the community fully support the aims of this scheme, while others have expressed reservations about how it could affect the neighbourhood.
“That is why we consulted at length prior to installing any planters and only proceeded at locations where a clear majority of those responding were in favour.”
The councillor described the vandalism of the planters as “unacceptable” and condemned motorists who had taken to the pavement, and also urged people to give the council feedback on the scheme.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.