Sustainable cities need sustainable transport systems. But with many people still opting to jump in their cars to travel short distances it’s clear more needs to be done to make us ditch our motors.
A third of all journeys under a kilometre are still made in cars. So, how can we bring about change and encourage greater take-up of cycling, walking and public transport as a means of getting from A to B? It’s a question that was posed to the expert speakers on Bruntwood’s sustainable transport panel at the RHS Tatton Flower Show this week.
It was great to have Nicola Kane, Head of Strategic Planning at Transport for Greater Manchester and Martin Key, senior transport advisor to Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham with me at the event to talk about why sustainable transport is a key driver of sustainable urban development.
It was a subject that stirred up a lot of interest and there were questions about everything from what the world would be like with driverless cars, to politeness on the road, to dealing with hills on a bike. It shows it is a subject that touches everyone's lives, which is exactly what attracted me to join the department for transport 25 years ago at the start of my career.
According to Martin, who works alongside former Olympian Chris Boardman, the mayor’s cycling and walking commissioner, we need nothing less than a massive cultural shift across the region, if we want to achieve optimum sustainability.
Safety is a major concern, of course and making commuters feel safer on their bikes is a key focus for Martin, who urged police in Greater Manchester to follow the example of the West Midlands and crackdown on dangerous drivers who threaten the safety of cyclists.
But where else can we be making a difference? Work-place design undoubtedly plays a role and there was a consensus on the need for offices to help facilitate cycling and walking.
Sustainability and workplace wellbeing has always been central to Bruntwood’s philosophy and a key consideration in all of our workspaces. More than 75 per cent of our buildings have secure bike storage and shower facilities and at Circle Square in Manchester we’re incorporating a total of 1000 bicycle spaces.
As a developer, we are in a privileged position of being able to help create beautiful, liveable, walkable cities. But we can’t do this alone and sustainable transport infrastructure must be a priority for our local authorities.
Just last month Chris Boardman unveiled proposals for a thousand miles of interlinked bike and walking lanes across the Greater Manchester region. Known as ‘Beelines’, the 10-year, £1.5bn proposal includes 75 miles of segregated cycle lanes similar to those found in European countries like Holland and Denmark.
The future looks promising and Bruntwood will continue to be at the forefront of the push for green, sustainable cities. In the meantime, we can all be doing our bit by occasionally leaving the car at home.