Time for Car Free Superblocks in Manchester City Centre @Chris_Boardman

Barcelona has pioneered the concept of car-free superblocks in its City centre.


The basic concept being that through traffic is only permitted on a few grid roads, within the superblocks ‘filtered permeability’ applies with no through car traffic and priority to  pedestrians and cyclists.

We learn this week that Melbourne is looking to adopt a similar scheme.  The new Spanish government is looking to do this in all major cities for air quality reasons.

The City Centre in England with the strongest gridded pattern in Manchester.  In teh City yesterday was thinking on St peters Street, why is there through traffic, there is nowhere to park in this whole superblock?  Yes there needs to be access to the big hotels for taxis but that can be manged, as can bus access; by induction bollards for example. There is no need for through traffic.

Manchester has pedestrian areas, such as Piccadilly and Market Street and St Peters Sqaure and by GMEX, but they don’t link up.  It is streets between them, such as Deasgate and Cross Street that seem to be struggling.

So heres a rough plan.  It should be possible to penetrate into the city centre from the ring road but not pass through it unless you are a bus, walker or cyclist.  Access should only be main car parks like Arndale and specialist areas like parking for Chinatown.  All other car parks north of Canal street should be removed, quite simply by stopping up orders on the streets that access them.  That includes all NCP car parks other than China Town.   They should be redeveloped for housing, though one central one should be redeveloped as a secure automated cycle park.  Deansgate and Cross Street (north of Peter Street) should be pedestrian, cyclists and buses only (other than Taxi access on Peter Street), with the area between them the first ‘Super Block’.

It should no longer be possible to drive east west- west east from Bridge Street-Princess Street or Peter Street- Quat Street.

The route from Piccadilly Gardens to Piccadilly Station should be bus, cycle and pedestrian only.

The free bus routes should be extended to all day and should include a service to link the edge of cengre parking areas such as at Ardale to the main cultural attractions such as the Exchange, Bridgewater Hall/GMEX, Chinatown, the Gay Village etc.

The Second phase would be to extend superblocks to Chinatown, the Gay Village, Castelfields, the Northern Quarter and Salford Central.



Buenos Aires Bins Bidets


The city government of Buenos Aires is set to approve a series of housing reforms Thursday that include eliminating a requirement that homes have bidets and bathtubs.

Current housing codes — set in place in 1943 and last updated in 1977 — state that bidets and bathtubs must be built in all homes. The fountains have become a cultural staple in Buenos Aires, a city of three million people that clings to its European roots.

The bill passed the first hurdle in the city’s legislature in September. The final vote is set for Thursday. Lawmakers have called the measure, among others, as a way to modernize an outdated housing code.

Doing away with bidets and bathtubs are just two of many reforms City Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta is doing in order to spread out the Buenos Aires workforce. Few neighborhoods are zoned as mixed use and as a result, workers must spend hours crossing the city to get from residential areas to the downtown work areas. Larreta’s plan would allow more office buildings to be built in residential areas.

Every day, most city residents, known as “portenos,” cram into buses, trains and subways that all converge in downtown Buenos Aires, an often overcrowded area. It’s common at rush hour to wait for two or three packed subways to pass before squeezing into one.

Other changes in the bill include:

  • Unisex bathrooms in public spaces such as universities

  • Mandatory drainage systems for flood prevention in new buildings

  • So-called green roofs to cool buildings

  • Unifying the legal height of buildings

  • A website so residents can see new housing codes on each block

Policy Exchange – Birmingham should Double in Size

Birmingham Mail

They are actually recommending less growth by 2040 than the modelling by the 3 LEPs report recommends.

Birmingham should be twice the size in order to become a wealthy “global city”, according to a major new report.

That would mean doubling the population to two million people, from around one million today.

And the West Midlands Combined Authority, chaired by mayor Andy Street, should help ensure Birmingham’s population grows by at least 200,000 people by 2040.

Those are some of the findings in a study by think tank Policy Exchange.

Researchers looked at the Government’s Midlands Engine policy, which is supposed to grow the economies of both the West Midlands and the East Midlands, and to encourage the two regions to work more closely together.

One of their findings was that the Midlands would be more successful if Birmingham grows significantly.

The theory is that economies are more productive if there are more people around. This is known as agglomeration.

The Policy Exchange report said: “By locating close together, workers, businesses and families can access a common pool of ideas, skills and people, creating a city that is greater than the sum of its parts.”

If the UK was like most other developed countries then Birmingham would have around two million people, the report said.

Referring to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which includes 36 wealthy countries, the report said: “If Birmingham matched the OECD average for the relative size of a second city, it would be almost twice as large, or around 2 million people.

“By itself, assuming standard agglomeration effects, this might increase productivity by 3-8 per cent, helping close the gap with the South East.

The report said that the UK currently only has one “global city”, which is London, but it could have more.

It said: “Given its population and economy, the UK should be able to support more than one global city.

“In 1950 both Manchester and Birmingham were among the 30 largest cities in the world – today, neither make the top 100 and are rarely brought up in other lists of global power or influence.”

The Rotunda towers over the Bullring shopping centre.

And it said that the West Midlands Combined Authority, the region’s new council which is chaired by the mayor, should help ensure the city grows by at least 20% by 2040, which would mean roughly 200,000 extra people.

Policy Exchange’s Head of Economics and Social Policy Warwick Lightfoot said: “Britain stands out among advanced economies for the poor productivity performance of its second cities. This is not the result of a law of nature. Regional decline has been as much a result of political mistakes as economic destiny.

“The Midlands currently punches below its weight economically – but is fortunate. Unlike some areas of the UK, many of the fundamentals are in its favour, from technological developments in manufacturing to the region’s geography and close connection to London.

“While more needs to be done to address the region’s underlying weaknesses with skills and infrastructure, the reality is that these are secondary to developing world-leading sectors.

“If the Midlands is to substantially close the productivity gap with the rest of the G7, it will have to develop more world leading technologies of its own – and not just be a local base for production.”