Transforming the daily commute
Living in a greener, leafier town
Stockport has a great mix of the rural and urban. The town centre is the hub of commerce and business, while outlying areas such as The Heatons, Marple, Hazel Grove and Bramhall offer great places to live in a greener, leafier setting.
Dave Butler is Policy Officer at the Greater Manchester Cycling Campaign and has lived in Heaton Moor for 40 years.
Increasingly the cycle ways and off-road trails that cross the borough are offering an alternative way to get to work, as well as something for everyone to enjoy at the weekend.
The Alan Newton Way, named after Stockport’s Olympic medal winning cyclist, leads from Marple to Stockport via the Goyt Valley, providing a safe off-road route towards the town centre. The National Cycle Network Route 55 also runs from Marple through Romiley and Lower Bredbury, and a seven mile stretch of the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT) crosses the north of the borough.
“The TPT enters via the Tame Valley in Reddish Vale Country Park and goes through the town centre before continuing along the Mersey Valley and has become a popular route for people to get to work,” says Don Naylor, Senior Transportation Officer at Stockport Council.
Stockport’s new landmark, Aurora industrial park, which sits close to junction one of the M60, not only has great links to the motorway, but also has car-free access to the site from the TPT. With a bridle bridge over the River Mersey that can be used by cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders, too, the route continues on to the Kings Reach Business Park.
The closeness of the TPT has been popular with businesses and a recent upgrade of part of the trail, with the addition of picnic benches and seats, has made it a popular place for people to enjoy their lunch.
“Businesses are becoming more and more conscious of the benefits for their employees of having direct transport links that utilise greenspace,” says Naylor. “It’s something that Stockport’s lucky to have a lot of. We expect to carry on joining up the various projects and create continuous links.”
Further measures are included in the Council’s new cycling and walking strategy and other initiatives are being developed through the Cycle City Ambition Grant and Town Centre Access Programme (TCAP).
Cycling is also being encouraged on Stockport’s roads, with cycle lanes introduced to new road schemes and junctions remodelled to make them safer for both cyclists and pedestrians. The town also has a growing number of cycle hubs, offering cyclists somewhere secure to store their bikes.
A number of TCAP schemes are helping to make the town centre easier for walking and cycling, with vehicle access being restricted on a number of streets.
“Of course, walking and cycling aren’t a panacea for everything but they can both bring significant benefits,” adds Naylor. “It’s about recognising the positive roles they can play in a number of key areas.
“Take health; travelling actively to work, rather than relying on the car, means people take more exercise. Environmentally there are wins: better air quality and fewer greenhouse gas emissions. In terms of personal economy, it’s cheaper to walk or cycle than it is to run a car. It’s about showing that there are alternatives.”