Pedestrians in Manchester. Josh Taylor; Pedestrians in Manchester. Josh Taylor;

Manchester City Centre Walkability Study, Manchester

How can Arup’s new uMove toolkit help to create safe, inclusive and welcoming cities?

The city of Manchester has a fast-growing population and is one of the UK’s most important commercial, retail and entertainment destinations. Regardless of how residents and visitors move around the city, almost everyone will walk or wheel as part of their journey. With aims to achieve a 70% increase in the number of trips into the city centre by active modes by 2040, targeted and transformational improvements to the city centre walking network will be required to create a more liveable and sustainable city.

Arup was commissioned by Manchester City Council (MCC) to undertake a review of the city centre walking network and develop a prioritised schedule of small-scale interventions to improve the environment for walking. The proposed interventions will seek to improve aspects such as walking connections between key attractions, street clutter, crossings and junctions, and help to ensure the areas are safe and attractive both during the day and at night.

Using our uMove toolkit, which relies on open source data, we were able to review a large study area in a few short days and prioritise improvements based on key journey metrics and walkability analysis. Stakeholder engagement was central to the study, helping to make sure that there is both local and wider stakeholder buy-in to the proposals coming forward.

Project Summary

100s of kilometres of streets analysed for walk quality

30,000buildings analysed to estimate footfall demand

70%increase in walking and cycling trips into the city centre by 2040 targeted

Analysing city walkability

The study area for the project covers the entire city centre of Manchester. On a tight programme, MCC needed a fast and efficient method to understand the locations that improvements would provide the most impact. To do this, all of the streets within the city centre needed to be assessed in an efficient and consistent way. Arup’s new urban modelling toolkit, uMove, offered a unique and robust method to do this.

Using data to better understand pedestrian mobility

uMove is our new, digital and data-driven toolkit developed to better understand pedestrian mobility and travel demand in cities and public realm around the world. We believe in a human-centric approach that can truly recognise the needs and experience of everyday lives and uMove can examine key mobility and land-use metrics to understand this, such as urban vitality, productivity, wellbeing and equality.

Our toolkit uses rich spatial data to answer the key questions that influence our planning decisions: Why do people travel? When do they travel? Where do they go to? How do they travel? The toolkit generates quick and flexible analysis without the need for detailed data collection. In a few short days, uMove enabled our team to analyse and prioritise hundreds of kilometres streets – demonstrating its ability to provide a rapid approach to surveying.

Manchester city centre study area map Manchester city centre study area map Manchester city centre study area map
Our leading urban modelling toolkit offers a unique perspective on the entirety of Manchester city centre. (Click to zoom)

An evidence-driven approach

Another benefit of using uMove was the evidence-base it provided for the project outcomes. A person’s experience of a street is shaped by their own personal needs and abilities – Do they feel confident crossing a road? Do they have any accessibility needs? What is their gender? How old are they? – Applying the uMove toolkit took subjectivity out of the analysis and provided the consistent and objective assessment our client was looking for.

Enabling more people to walk will support ambitions to reduce the amount of traffic in the city, providing air and noise quality improvements and making the city centre a safer environment for people to move around in. These environmental benefits will benefit specific groups in particular such as children and older people, making the city centre a more equitable and inclusive space.

uMove: providing ongoing value

The project team has established a scalable methodology for MCC that can be repeated in future for small neighbourhoods or at a city scale. The uMove analysis is able to provide MCC with an ongoing pipeline of priority locations for enhancement as and when funding for projects arise. The prioritisation is automated so can be quickly updated when significant changes and developments arise as the city evolves.