The temporary pedestrianisation of part of Deansgate came into effect this weekend (Saturday 16 May), creating a new shared space for pedestrians and people on bikes between Blackfriars Street and King Street West.
Removable barriers have been installed, which will prevent traffic from accessing this stretch of Deansgate, with the exception of time windows for loading and essential access by emergency services.
The move will aid the city’s economic recovery by making it easier for people to socially distance while getting to work or visiting local businesses, as and when restrictions on movement to restrict the spread of coronavirus are eased.
Manchester City Council’s aspiration is for the change – initially being brought forward on a temporary basis – to become permanent, pending feedback gained through an open conversation with local residents, businesses and other parties about the effects of the closure. Comments from the public can be submitted via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Elsewhere in Manchester, more than a dozen footway widening schemes are set to be carried out, to make more space for people to walk to and from major public transport hubs, around the city centre and in busy district centres. This work will involve the installation of temporary barriers or cones, with bus stops being relocated and parking bays suspended where required.
Schemes have already been completed at London Road and Princess Street in the city centre and a range of further locations are due to be progressed in the coming weeks.
A footway “decluttering” work programme is also to be completed in the city centre and district centres, to further help with social distancing. This work will involve reviewing whether existing signs, bins, benches, bollards and guard-railings and poles can be removed or relocated to increase available space for pedestrians.
Extra work which will help people to socially distance is also planned, including new signage for benches to mark out safe seating areas, markings for footways and grassed areas and a review of the potential for extending traffic-free hours for city centre areas which have already been pedestrianised – including Canal Street, King Street, Market Street, Exchange Street (St Ann’s Square) and Thomas Street.
Executive Member for the Environment, Planning and Transport, Councillor Angeliki Stogia, said: “The temporary pedestrianisation of part of Deansgate is about people and their safety as they gradually return to work or visit local businesses. It will aid the city’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic by making sure that there is more space for people in this area. I’d encourage everyone to give us their feedback and let us know how the scheme affects them, so that we can work together to make it a success.
“We’re also decluttering and widening footways at a series of other busy locations across the city, This will make it easier for people to socially distance as they get around our city centre, as they return to work or if they wish to visit shops and businesses once they are able to reopen.”