Campaigners are calling for Manchester City Council to pedestrianise the central Manchester road Deansgate in a bid to “Prioritise people, not cars.”
The campaign has gained momentum after Extinction Rebellion (XR) protests temporarily shut down the street at the beginning of September. In a petition created by Claire Stocks, she urges Manchester City Council to pedestrianise the area, writing:
“The historic street is one of the most polluted in the city with illegal levels of toxic emissions from vehicles. The street is regularly closed to traffic for almost a dozen events each year – from Manchester Pride to sporting events and other parades. We call on the council to go the whole hog and close it to traffic all year round and make it the living, breathing, vibrant street it wants to be!”
In an interview with the Manchester Evening News she stated: “We are catering far more to these boxes of metal and not catering for people that want to walk around”, and explained that the XR protests gave Mancunians a taste of what life would be like with a vehicle-free Deansgate:
“What we found is the action attracted a lot more people than usual, a lot of people enjoyed being on Deansgate without any vehicles.”
The petition has now gained over 1,700 signatures in just over a week, and has not gone unnoticed by the council, who commented that plans to pedestrianise the road have “been under active consideration for some time.”
However, the main issue for the council to overcome is dealing with the bus routes that would be affected by the street’s closure.
This is not the first time this issue has been brought to the council’s attention. Back in 2009, a BBC News article titled “A Walk Down Deansgate” highlighted that the then closure of the road, for fixing some gas pipes, attracted more footfall and stores such as House of Fraser “saw an upturn in trade.”
Back then, the decision would have been seen as an “investment” into Manchester shopping culture, whereas now it is being campaigned as a way to seriously reduce the toxic levels of pollution in the city’s air.