By Justin Rowlatt Chief Environment correspondent
- 5 hours ago
Barriers closed a stretch of Deansgate, Manchester’s main thoroughfare, to motor vehicles on Saturday.
Elsewhere in the city, new pedestrian walkways and pop-up bike lanes have appeared.
It is part of a nationwide effort to create more space for social distancing as the country gradually begins to lift the coronavirus restrictions.
Glasgow, Leicester, York and Brighton have also created new space for walking or cycling this week.
And dozens more UK towns and cities plan to do so.
On Friday, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said he would be shutting some of the busiest roads in the city.
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He said his plan to close large swathes of London to cars and vans would create one of the largest car-free areas of any city in the world.
“Many Londoners have rediscovered the joys of walking and cycling during lockdown”, Mr Khan said. “By quickly and cheaply widening pavements, creating temporary cycle lanes and closing roads to through traffic we will enable millions more people to change the way they get around our city.”
He acknowledged that the changes would cause disruption for many Londoners but said he had no choice but to rapidly repurpose London’s streets for people.
“By ensuring our city’s recovery is green, we will also tackle our toxic air, which is vital to make sure we don’t replace one public health crisis with another.”
Most of the changes being brought in around the country are a temporary response to the coronavirus crisis, but many local authorities say that – following consultation with local communities – they would like to make them permanent.
“We hope that pedestrians and cyclists will reclaim the streets of this city”, councillor Angeliki Stogia, Manchester’s lead member for Transport and Environment, told the BBC.