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  • Over 4 in 5 Mancunians want cars to give way to bikes, buses and walking to tackle urban air pollution

    A YouGov poll of residents in greater Manchester reveals overwhelming support for measures to protect health by tackling air pollution emissions from cars. More than four in five Mancunians (82%) are in favour of measures to reduce car emissions and use, with just 8% rejecting action. A similarly high level of support is observed between men and women, and among different age and income groups.

    The survey, with supporting analysis by transport think-tank Transport & Environment, finds that reallocating road space (as one of the measure to control air pollution) to create more room for pedestrians is supported by 78% of respondents (just 10% opposed). Additional cycle lanes are supported by 66% (19% against), with more support in younger age groups, and additional bus lanes are supported by 58% (20% against). The introduction of Zero Emission Zones that ban polluting cars from cities receives support from 78% of respondents with opposition from just 12%.

    Greg Archer, UK Director of Transport & Environment said, “Mancunians have appreciated the cleaner air and quieter streets during the lockdown and recognise Manchester with fewer cars is a better place to live. The survey shows strong support for cities to ban polluting cars, speed up bus trips and provide safe routes to walk and cycle.

    The survey also finds that reluctance to use public transport, observed since the lockdown, will not persist if buses and trains are safe to use. Among those who say they used public transport in greater Manchester before the pandemic, 25% say they will continue to use it regardless of the risk and 55% say they will start using public transport again if sufficient hygiene measures are taken. 12% say they will no longer use buses and trains due to the risk of contagion.

    The survey also finds that, since lockdown began, there has been a surge in interest to buy battery electric cars. In total 31% say their interest has increased, 20% saying “increased a little”, while a further 11% say “increased a lot”.

    Greg Archer added, “The Coronavirus tragedy has also shown breathing choking car fumes is not inevitable in Manchester. More people now want to walk, cycle and drive pollution-free cars, and – once buses and trains are safe – passengers will be happy to use them again. Public attitudes have changed and political leaders need to listen. We need the ultra low emissions zone introduced quickly and further investment to restrict car use and support cleaner transport across the city.

    Notes to editors

    The survey was conducted online by YouGov, using a sample of 1,000 adults in 5 cities in the UK. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th – 19th May 2020. The figures have been weighted and are representative of greater London, greater Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Glasgow adults.

    [1]“Cities must take effective measures to protect citizens from air pollution, even if this requires reallocating public space to walking, cycling and public transport.”